Local Development - Buxted Parish Council Statement


In the light of the recent submissions for a large amount of development in Five Ash Down, Buxted Parish Council would wish to make the following statement.

The Council feels badly let down by Wealden District Council which has failed to produce a timely Local Plan or indicate preferred development sites which would have allowed the parish council to respond to planning consultations in a focused detailed way based on policy grounds, and where possible, obtaining benefit to the local area (should applications be approved). Instead, we are responding having no knowledge as to whether each site will be allocated for development within any emerging local plan and without WDC having considered the accumulative effect that the development of these sites will have on the village and surrounding area.

We have been told time after time that each site would be considered on its own merit, but this would not now appear to be the case. This became apparent at the recent North Wealden Planning Committee when officers advised that the appeal to build at the Coopers Green crossroad has been allowed on appeal and therefore the application to develop land to the rear of Coopers Row should therefore also be approved otherwise, they would be subject to ‘unreasonable case processing’.

We are not experts in concerns such as road safety, sewage capacity, infrastructure, and flooding. However, we can gauge the impact that an unacceptable level of acceptance of numerous local planning applications would have on Buxted and Five Ash Down, namely doctor and school capacity, local parking for commuters.

Also worrying is that appeal inspectors are putting the most amount of weight on the fact that WDC does not have a 5-year housing land supply. For example, when reading the appeal inspectors decision for the Cooper Green crossroads application, the inspector even agreed with some of the reasons for refusal but commented the lack of a 5-year housing supply and lack of any significant environmental reasons for refusal, they had no choice but to approve the application. So, this reason appears to supersede every other. Will this continue to be the case until WDC reach the housing target? In a recent communication from WDC, dated 12th August, Planning appeals update, external lawyers advised the council that their objections, mainly on traffic matters, was not defensible, and the objections would be withdrawn. Does this mean any future meaningful, previously material objection, from a local point of view, is rendered useless?

The Parish Council will however continue to work on resident’s behalf, listening to concerns and representing local knowledge when responding to all planning applications. We just hope Wealden listen and accept that town and parish councils should have a say in the planning process, otherwise it would seem our opinions are rendered worthless and unconsidered.

A lack of a local plan and any meaningful interim guidance from WDC who appear not to consider the quality of life of those currently residing in the area makes it increasingly difficult to respond proactively to when considering new large-scale development within our parish.