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Ask the Leader

The Leader of Wealden District Council is Councillor Bob Standley. He will be pleased to answer any question you may have about Wealden District Council's policies, or other matters involving the Council, which you think are of interest to people living, working or visiting Wealden.

To ask your question, please use our or Ask the Leader - Submit a Question Form

Councillor Standley is the Conservative Leader of the Cabinet of Wealden District Council and has represented Wadhurst since 2004.

Specific inquiries about particular services such as planning applications, licensing or accommodation can be reported online. Please use our 'directory of tasks on online services' to find the appropriate form. You can also email

We will try to respond within ten working days of receiving your question and your question and the Leader's reply will then be posted on the website. Please provide your name, we don't need your address. If we think the question is inappropriate for publication we will contact you by email to say why.

For information on any of the Ask The Leader questions listed please contact our Communications Officer on

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The latest Ask the Leader questions and answers are shown below. To view more questions and answers, use the search above, or the 'In this Section' menu.

Ashdown Forest Court Decision


Question :- Dear Sir Following the recent decision in Ashdown Forest LLP v Wealden. It has been established that the Council Planning Department did not do their job properly. As a result, and despite the spin by Councillor A Newton to Gloss over the climb down, the Council have wasted many tens of thousands of pounds of tax payers money and suffered a humiliating defeat. This defeat is made so much worse because it appears that not only did the Local Planning authority fail to follow the advice of Natural England, they have rigidly and arrogantly continued to ignore common sense. Given the above; a) Who will be held accountable for the above failure? b) Who can we expect to be asked to resign their office or employment? c) Will there be an investigation [by an independent body] to ensure that the Council's Planning department has at all relevant times adhered to the Councils Anti-corruption policy? and if not why not? Mr L. E. Fant


Dear Sir, I cannot agree with your conclusions. As you would expect I have taken a keen interest in this important matter. The Council's Planning policy team followed correct procedures with regard to the 7km Ashdown Forest Protection Zone and followed the advice of our legal advisers. The Court of Appeal hearing was on a single technical matter and the Court decided against the Council. Wealden’s approach to protecting Ashdown Forest satisfied the exacting scrutiny of the Planning Inspector who carried out the original Public Examination of the Core Strategy Local Plan, and of the High Court at the earlier Judicial Review. Only when one technical matter was taken up by the Court of Appeal, did a ruling go against the Council because we had not explicitly, rather than implicitly, considered alternatives. The presiding judge, Lord Justice Richards, said he arrived at his conclusion “with a degree of reluctance”. We have worked closely with Natural England throughout including in relation to the guidance issued earlier this week following the High Court judgement and we will continue to do so. The Habitat Regulations still have to complied with and, as a result of the judgement, applications will now need to be screened over a far wider area than the original 7km Protection Zone. The Council will continue to promote economic growth whilst also protecting our countryside and delivering the Local Plan. If you have any evidence of corruption being involved in our planning procedures, you must report it to the Council Chief Finance Officer rather than make insinuations online. Regards Bob Standley

Ashdown Forest


Dear Mr. Standley, I have asked this question last year when I was told it will be sorted out soon. Now all that time passed but nothing has changed. Dear Sir, my question is about the Ashdown Forest which causing lots of hassle for planning permission. I have a property in Jarvis Brook. I wanted to develop this property by changing the back building into two beds dwelling. In 2011, I went to Crowborough borough council to check if its possible. I was told that it was an ideal thing to do. Since then Wealden dist. council has refused because of this Ashdown Forest, then we appealed which was again turn down by the building inspector. The reason was Ashdown forest. Now it has gone four years I am still waiting. I just want to know will it ever be sorted out so people can develop their properties. Thanks D R Sharma


Dear Mr Sharma, The policy to protect the Ashdown Forest was approved by the Council and reflected the National legislation which protects such areas. The policy has been upheld by Planning Inspectors and the Courts. The Council is actively pursuing the purchase of land that would be suitable for creation of a Suitable Alternative Natural Green Spaces (SANGS). A SANG would allow development of sites that are acceptable in planning terms and do not increase nitrogen deposition on the Forest. Nitrogen deposition is also being monitored by the Council. I am optimistic that a SANG site will soon be available in the Crowborough area and once this site is established, additional developments can be brought forward for consideration through the planning process. Regards Bob Standley

For information on any of the Ask The Leader questions listed please contact our Communications Officer on

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