Wealden District Council
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Inspector backs Wealden council decision over controversial development

Publish Date: 8 February 2024

A decision to refuse planning permission for a 420-home development in Wealden has been backed by a planning inspector.

Wealden District Council originally turned down plans by developers to build on the site of Downlands Farm, Uckfield, in April last year.

The developers appealed and following a 10-day inquiry in December last year, the government’s planning inspector dismissed the appeal comprehensively backing Wealden council’s decision.

The outline application was for up to 424 residential dwellings including affordable housing, the provision of vehicular, pedestrian and cycle access and separate emergency access from the Uckfield bypass (A22), pedestrian and cycle access from Snatts Road, open spaces including children’s play space, sustainable urban drainage systems, associated landscaping, infrastructure and earthworks.

The appeal was also against the refusal of a full application comprising of the creation of a strategic SANG, associated landscaping and car parking, and demolition of existing residential property and other buildings and provision of pedestrian and cycle access from Rocks Road, associated landscaping, infrastructure and earthworks.

In announcing that the appeal was dismissed, the planning inspector said the main issues were the effects of the proposal on Ancient Woodland; on protected species and whether the proposal provides adequate mitigation in relation to the potential effects of the proposal on Ashdown Forest Special Protection Area (SPA) and Special Area of Conservation (SAC); on the highways network including whether the scheme provides safe and suitable access for all users; on heritage assets, including non-designated heritage assets and historic landscape character: and finally, whether the proposal would be in an appropriate location, having regard to local and national policies which advocate development in locations which are accessible to local services and restraint to development in a countryside location.

Councillor Ian Tysh, Alliance for Wealden (Green Party), and lead councillor for Planning and Environment, said, “We are delighted that the Planning Inspector agreed with the council’s original decision to refuse this application and save this site from development.

“Downlands is an important area, a very, very special place, ecologically sensitive and enclosed on most sides by Ancient Woodland, with many veteran trees within. It also abuts Lake Wood, a local nature reserve run and owned by Woodland Trust. I am pleased we have defended this land from what was a very hostile application which would have caused immeasurable damage to the Wealden landscape.”