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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

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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 planning regulations


How long will it be before we have these Ashdown Forest's regulations sorted out so we can carry out residential developments? Dhanraj Sharma


Dear Dhanraj Sharma, There are two issues that affect new residential developments in relation to the designated areas of the Ashdown Forest: the need for alternative recreational space to mitigate the impact of certain development within 7km of Ashdown Forest; and need to ensure any nitrogen deposition from the increase in the number of motor vehicles is not damaging the Forest’s ecology. We have made much progress on both issues, particularly the need for alternative recreational space. Technically known as Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space, we have produced a set of SANGS guidelines to help identify and create functioning alternative greens spaces. These guidelines have been agreed by Natural England. We have also been working with the Conservators of Ashdown Forest and other organisations to draw up a Strategic Access Management and Monitoring Strategy (SAMMS) for the Forest. Both measures are necessary to allow developments which are other wise acceptable to proceed. I am pleased to say that in October, Planning Committee North resolved to approve the District’s first SANGS which will open up 28 ha of green space to the public. Other SANGS are expected to come forward this year. These will allow planned developments to take place where nitrogen emissions are not an issue. Regarding the more complex issue of nitrogen deposition, we commissioned specialist consultants to suggest the most effective ways to monitor nitrogen emissions around the Forest. We then commissioned consultants to devise and implement a nitrogen monitoring and assessment programme. This is necessary to satisfy the environmental concerns of the independent Planning Inspector who reviewed the District’s Core Strategy Local Plan. Air monitoring equipment has now been installed around the Forest and monitoring is taking place but it will be a number of years before we have enough results to know the effect that road traffic is having on the flora and fauna of the Forest. You can find our more about the measures we are taking on the Ashdown Forest Pages of the Wealden website. I am aware that some of the measures I have outlined may appear to be complex. However environmental protection law is based on scientific tenets, and if we fail as a Council to uphold the law, it may prove expensive both to our council tax payers, and our countryside which is undoubtedly one of our greatest assets. Regards Bob Standley

Notification of a planning consultation


Dear Sir Central Grill, High Street, Wadhurst:application for extension of opening hours I refer to the above and write, a) as a complaint b) a request for an explanation. I am informed by my neighbour that they have received notification re; the above. I am very concerned that I have not had the same notification. Your records should show that on 2 previous planning applications I also complained about not being notified, your staff on each occasion assured me they would look into this and ensure, where applicable I would be notified of any future applications. Obviously, since I am writing to you nothing has changed. I would also mention that when the Central Grill applied for change of use, your failure to notify me resulted in my missing the Parish council meeting, my objections were therefore not taken into account, it also meant my objections to the planning committee Wealden District had to be submitted within a very short time, I was not allowed enough time to consider and research in-depth a structured objection. I request therefore, in consideration of the aforementioned, you instruct your staff to provide me with the relevant notification, and, ensure that the date for objections is extended to give me the same time opportunity as other, effected by this proposed extension of opening hours. An explanation, as to why your are still failing to notify me of relevant planning applications, and, what you propose to do to ensure this will not happen again. I look forward to your very early response and immediate receipt of the relevant notification. Yours faithfully R P Gregory


Dear Mr Gregory, I am sorry for the oversight you have experienced. I understand that after you raised the matter with us, our planning department immediately contacted you and provided you with email access to take part in the consultation. You have been allowed the statutory 21 day period to make you views known. I have made enquiries as to how the oversight arose. It would seem that record of your previous objection was deleted, in error, and therefore you were not included in the latest circulation. Whilst this was possibly due to the similarity of the applicant’s address and your own, the oversight should not have occurred and please accept my own and the Council’s apology. Your comments will be taken into account when the application is decided. Regards Bob Standley.

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