Area – Covering 323 square miles, Wealden is the largest district in East Sussex, and is home to over 160,000 people. Half the population live in five main towns: Crowborough, Hailsham, Heathfield, Polegate and Uckfield. The rest live in villages and hamlets in some of the most attractive countryside in the South of England.
Landscape – Wealden is classified as one of the most rural districts in England. Wealden places a high value on protecting the countryside, with two-thirds of the district covered by the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the South Downs National Park. There are 33 conservation areas within Wealden District (excluding that part of the District within the South Downs National Park), and over 2,200 listed buildings and the largest amount of ancient woodland of any district in the country.
Attractions – If you enjoy sightseeing, there are many pretty villages, country houses and gardens, as well as the beautiful countryside and splendid views. If you like history, there are castles and historic houses to discover and you can enjoy a bit of nostalgia on the famous Bluebell Steam Railway. Young families will enjoy a visit to Drusillas Park, the popular zoo and family fun park and the more energetic visitor can choose from many leisure activities such as cycling, horse riding, golfing, swimming, indoor/outdoor climbing, sailing and many more. There is something for all the family to keep them entertained and afterwards they can enjoy local food in the various restaurants, cafes, hotels and of course, the traditional village pub.
Council – The Council has 45 District Councillors elected in 41 wards. There are also 35 Parish Councils, 4 Town Councils and 3 Parish Meetings within the District and 15 County Councillors. The District is currently divided into four Parliamentary constituencies. Elections are held every four years for all District Council seats, the next Election is May 2023. With 29 out of the 45 seats, the Conservative Group has overall control of the Council.
Vision – Whilst we are a smaller Council than in 2012, we are certainly not small in our ambition. Our vision and priorities are outlined in our Corporate Plan, which covers the 4 year period of our current Council (2019-23).
In 2021, the mid-point of the plan, we reviewed our progress and priorities. Alongside dealing with the effects of COVID, we had also adopted a new Climate Change Action Plan following our declaration of a climate emergency. These two significant issues for Wealden have led us to update our Corporate Plan for the remaining two years. Whilst our vision for the future remains strong and our ambitions to achieve it the same, we are re-focussing our efforts on our 8 most important aims
- Ensuring development meets future needs, with associated investment in infrastructure.
- Ensuring that Wealden is Carbon Zero by 2050 at the latest.
- Improving access to essential services for all our communities.
- Promoting a better quality of life for Wealden people through activities that improve health, resilience and wellbeing.
- Generating ongoing sources of income to reinvest in local priorities and optimise funding from external sources.
- Supporting our local businesses, tourism sector and entrepreneurs to achieve a locally sustainable economy.
- Working with partners to regenerate our diverse market towns, creating jobs and attracting investment.
- Protecting and enhancing Wealden’s unique natural environment and heritage.