In the 2019 Corporate Plan we highlighted the amount of change in local government we had experienced throughout the period of the previous plan; little did we know what was to come during the period of this plan.
In the latter part of 2019 we saw the emergence of what we now know to be the largest national peacetime emergency in over a century – COVID-19. As a Council and a community we saw a great coming together of effort to combat the pandemic and protect all our residents.
Whilst COVID-19 influenced our activities we continued to deliver on the following ambitions.
Since April 2019 we have delivered:
- Enabled the creation of 2,441 new dwellings averaging around 814 dwellings per year, creating construction jobs in the area.
- 748 new affordable homes provided including 136 new council homes.
- Constructed 34 new homes through our housing company Sussex Weald Homes to meet the local demand of first-time buyers or those looking to downsize. 53 more are underway and 41 more are planned.
- Allocated £4 million of Community Infrastructure Levy towards improvements to highway infrastructure and £9 million towards funding for health and wellbeing infrastructure. In addition to this, over £3.5 million has been transferred to Parish/Town Council’s to spend on infrastructure items in their areas.
- Collected monies from developers through Section 106 agreements for infrastructure including over £8 million for new school places, transport improvements, recycling facilities and library improvements in 2020/21 alone.
- Supported adoption of three Parish Neighbourhood Development Plans.
- We declared a climate emergency and set our detailed Climate Change Action Plan. The action plan sets out how we are working towards both the Council and the wider District being net-zero CO2 by 2050 at the latest.
- Completed a procurement exercise for a partner to deliver an expanded EV charging network within our car parks. The selected provider ConnectedKerb is due to commence work on installing charge points in 11 Wealden owned car parks in the summer of 2022.
- Were part of the Joint East Sussex Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery bid which was successfully awarded £1,357,656 to improve 125 homes across the county.
- Granted planning permission for one of the first solar electric vehicle charging forecourts in the UK.
- Services are now available online and can be accessed 24/7 with more features and functionality such as MyWealden and our self-service portal, all helping us to deal with over 100,000 online customer visits a month
- Increased subscribers to the Council’s ‘Wealden Weekly’ residents’ information service to almost 20,000
- Increased our social media presence with 24.5k residents signed up to Nextdoor, 7.5k followers on Facebook, 1.5k on Instagram, and 8.4k on Twitter.
- Throughout COVID we have paid out£496,000 in household support grants and test and trace support to local residents
- Prevented or relieved 691 households from becoming homeless
- Improved the turnaround time following a demand in service for Land Charges from 9 weeks per search to 3 days.
Promote a better quality of life for Wealden people through activities that improve health, resilience and wellbeing
- Delivered a community grants programme providing almost £1 million to support our partners and local groups for the benefit of our communities.
- Healthy Wealden website launched to encourage and enable residents to be more active.
- Supported initiatives through the Wealden Dementia Action Alliance.
- Secured more than £ 72,000 to provide Youth Hubs outreach support for around 175 16-24 year-olds affected by the economic downturn due to Covid-19 (in partnership with Wealden Works).
- Became the first local authority in East Sussex to receive bronze accreditation for the Wellbeing at Work Award providing partners and local employers with examples of good practice.
Generate ongoing sources of income to reinvest in local priorities and optimise funding from external sources
- Opened the Wealden Crematorium; a state-of-the-art crematorium set in 25 acres of rural Sussex countryside.
- Realised £3.07m of savings through good procurement.
- Minimised Council Tax increases to 5.2% since 2019.
- Processed 1,837 requests for pre-application planning advice (April 2019 – 30 June 2022) generating an income of £538,000.
- Launched a garden waste service. This now has over 35,400 subscribers.
- Secured £19,500 of grant funding from BEIS to enforce minimum energy efficiency standards in the private rented sector to stop landlords renting out energy inefficient homes.
Support our local businesses, tourism sector and entrepreneurs to achieve a locally sustainable economy
- We have paid out £68,485,048 in pandemic support grants to support local businesses through the COVID pandemic with £1m in erroneous or fraudulent claims avoided.
- Launched a new ‘Explore’ Wealden tourism brand with website and attractions guides.
- Supported Farley Farm (art gallery) in a bid to the Cultural Development Fund for new a Welcome building.
- Enabled 14,595 sqm of net employment floorspace between 2019/20 to 2020/21 providing jobs within the area.
- Increased local employment with the number of business enterprises increasing since 2019 with 80 more micro businesses opening in the area.
- Delivered a Home Office funded Safer Streets Round 2 project securing significant improvements to reducing crime and disorder in Hailsham Town Centre and Hailsham North.
- Delivered a ‘Shop & Dine Well in Wealden’ campaign promoting high streets across Wealden’s market towns and villages who were recovering from the pandemic.
- Sent 91,078 tonnes of household waste for reuse, recycling or composting.
- Established two alternative natural green spaces to mitigate the environmental impact of housing development.
- Processed 168 Major Planning Applications, 1,638 Minor Applications and 4,321 Other Applications.
- Processed 171 planning appeals with 75% of these appeals being dismissed.
- Processed 356 requests for advice relating to works to a Listed Building (April 2019 – 30 June 2022).
- Dealt with 1,308 tree related enquiries with 844 of these related to works to trees with a preservation order.
- Received and investigated 2,138 allegations of a breach in planning control service 41 formal stop notices including two injunctions.
- Introduced a new district level licencing scheme for great crested newts, a European protected species. This provides a straightforward and low risk option for great crested newt licencing in the District with improved conservation outcomes for newts, such as newt friendly pond creation.