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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 info@wealden.gov.uk.

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 pr@wealden.gov.uk.

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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.

Housing Supply

Question

Why is your council relying on an estimate of housing need of 735 per year despite it having been pointed out many times that this is a grossly inflated figure based on calculations which contain major errors? Why does your council still think that there is an unmet housing need of 97 per year from Eastbourne when it has been pointed out to you that there is no evidence for this need? Why do we have a Portfolio Manager for Planning who has admitted in public that she cannot understand the calculations on housing need provided by the council’s consultants? Why has your council decided to relinquish control of planning by accepting that there is less than 5 years’ land supply for new housing, when it has been repeatedly pointed out to you that you could easily demonstrate more than 5 years’ supply? Why do you employ planning officers who have to take legal advice on how to calculate the 5 year land supply when they should be well-qualified (and well-paid) enough to decide for themselves? Why do you keep blaming Central Government for imposing housing figures on the council when national planning policy directs councils to make up their own minds, based on evidence? Why are the majority of the almost 20,000 new houses in the proposed local plan going to be built on greenfield sites, when your own survey of all households showed that 83% of residents disagreed with this? Why are you imposing a 30% increase in population on residents, all by migration from outside the district, when even now schools, hospitals, roads and railways are over-stretched and many people commute outside the district for work? Can I be forgiven for thinking that there is a conspiracy at the heart of your council to cash in on the proceeds from over-development, regardless of the wishes of the residents and the damage done to the environment and quality of life? Paul Lovatt Smith

Answer

Dear Mr Lovatt Smith The responses received to the Issues, Options and Recommendations Consultation provided a variety of views regarding the Objectively Assessed Housing Need (OAHN). Some responses considered the OAHN was too low and some too high and others considered it was correct. The Council, in consultation with its consultants, consider that the figure as stated is appropriate and defendable taking to account Government guidance and therefore forms part of the Council’s evidence base. The Issues, Options and Recommendations document is an initial step towards the drafting of the Council’s submission Local Plan. The final submission document will be based on the appropriate evidence and will be consistent with national policy. The National Planning Policy Framework, published in 2012, gives a clear presumption in favour of sustainable development and states that the Council should positively seek opportunities to meet the development needs of the area and Local Plans should meet objectively assessed needs unless certain conditions are met. The development of greenfield land is not a restriction that can be imposed without the consideration of a number of other matters that are identified in the National Planning Policy Framework. The evidence base will help those decisions to be made. I note your statistic that 83% of residents disagreed with the use of greenfield sites. If you are referring to the Issues, Options and Recommendations consultation responses it must be appreciated that we received responses from 413 people and organisations not all being residents. With a resident population of 154,000, your figure quoted cannot be representative of all residents within the District. Notwithstanding this we have always made it clear that in terms of Local Plan consultation, it is not the weight of the response that has an impact on decision making, it is the content and the reason for objection. It is acknowledged that appropriate provision of infrastructure has a direct impact upon the quality of life enjoyed by our residents and as a council we are determined that the necessary infrastructure you mention will be delivered at the right time. We work with infrastructure providers to help access all available funding sources including Community Infrastructure Levy, which is funded by development. We also work closely with East Sussex County Council and monitor the progress of delivery – including at design stage. As part of this work, we have set up a revolving infrastructure fund so we can frontload some of the improvements before developments are fully completed. We have a duty to ensure that we take into consideration the social, environmental and economic well-being of the District and we will do all we can within the guidelines to progress the Local Plan to balance all these aspects in order for the District to continue to grow and thrive in a sustainable way. Regards Bob Standley

Visibility and deer along Wealden roads

Question

Can you organise to have the trees cut well back from the road the A27 so that instead of reading how many deer have been killed, they can see the traffic and the drivers can see the deer? Andrew Janes

Answer

Dear Mr Janes, Thank-you for your enquiry. We are not aware of there being a particular deer problem along the A27. Most of the road accidents with deer take place along the A22 running from Maresfield to East Grinstead, and the A26 and A 267 in the north of the District. East Sussex County Council’s Highways Authority is responsible for visibility along the roadside verges. They can be contacted on 0345 60 80 193. regards Bob Standley




For information on any of the Ask The Leader questions listed please contact our Communications Officer on pr@wealden.gov.uk.

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