The Ashdown Forest - stretching across 6000 acres of the High Weald - is an internationally-recognised environment, and is designated as both a Special Area of Conservation and Special Protection Area as well as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It currently enjoys the highest levels of protection.
Safeguarding this internationally important habitat has been a key element in influencing Wealden District Council's submitted Core Strategy, the document which directs where strategic growth should occur within the District.
A key factor is managing the levels of harmful nitrogen deposition which are produced as a result of traffic generation. The Habitats Directive and National Regulations relating to Habitats Assessments mean that additional growth in housing numbers, employment and community projects in and around the Forest, can only take place if such growth does not contribute to harmful nitrogen deposition caused by traffic movements. Where such a case can be shown to be possible, development must also contribute to the provision or improvement of suitable green spaces elsewhere to ensure that the overall level of visitor numbers to the Ashdown Forest does not cause damage through increases in recreational pressures.
This level of protection is entirely consistent with Wealden District Council's aims of protecting the rich and diverse environment which we enjoy, whilst providing appropriate levels and locations for growth.
Many forms of development such as domestic extensions, changes of use and replacement buildings are unaffected by the measures.
Councillor Roy Galley, Cabinet Member for Planning and Development, said "Through its Core Strategy, the Council is providing the foundations for sustainable growth to take place over the next 15 years. Such growth will include the release of suitable land for housing, employment and other uses. It will do so within a carefully drafted policy framework which respects our sensitive and much-envied environment. The response to consultation on our draft Core Strategy, confirmed such a balance was very much favoured by our communities".
Wealden's Planning Service is happy to advise on prospective applications through its duty officers and planning surgeries. Further information is available in the Planning section.