Wealden District Council

Local Plan Review to go ahead

Media Release : 03 June 2015

Wealden District Council has agreed to proceed with the 2015 Review of its Local Plan and will be seeking to consult with local parishes and organisations throughout the District as part of the process.

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Following the meeting of Full Council on 27 May, Cabinet Member for Planning and Development Ann Newton said the Review would look at all parts of the approved Core Strategy Local Plan including housing, office space and infrastructure.

“We will have revised, objectively-assessed housing need  figures to help guide the Review as well as a Strategic Environmental Assessment and Habitat Regulations Assessment to work with,” said Councillor Newton. “But I am aware of concerns, particularly in the north of the District, and we will be listening to a range of views throughout the Review process.”

The Council agreed to withdraw its Strategic Sites Local Plan after being unable to agree to proposed modifications put forward by a Planning Inspector which departed from the earlier approved Core Strategy Local Plan.

“Our Planning Policy team carefully assesses housing densities throughout the District so that they are suited to the local environment,” said Councillor Newton.  “One of the most damaging aspects of the Strategic Sites Inspector’s report was to propose to increase housing densities at a site in Hailsham. This would have led to challenges from developers all over the District who, having already received planning approval, would then seek to increase housing numbers for a more profitable return.”

Council Leader Bob Standley said when the Local Plan process began in 2004 it was supposed to be a streamlined process but has proved to be the exact opposite. Wealden were one of the first Councils to get a sound plan in 2013 but it will be 2017/18 before the bureaucratic process is complete. The Council will be seeking a meeting with the new Secretary of State of Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark, to air Wealden’s concerns about the frustrating length of time taken to draw up a Local Plan.

The Wealden Core Strategy Local Plan was approved in 2013. It identified the broad location for some 4,070 new homes with associated employment land and infrastructure to be built through to 2027. 

Responding to questions from Members, Councillor Roy Galley, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said the Review would not affect the sale of the Council’s former Pine Grove Offices which it is looking to complete at the earliest opportunity.

“Let me make this abundantly clear. If a suitable bid comes in, we will be accepting it. But the receipts cannot be for Crowborough alone. This is a Wealden-wide project and the receipts are for Wealden as a whole.”

A webcast of the Full Council debate on the Strategic Sites Local Plan examination can be viewed online (external link)