Tax-payers face cost of £150,000 for inquiry

The area of land which is subject to the inquiry is highlighted in red
The area of land which is subject to the inquiry is highlighted in red
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A PLANNING Inquiry into the Honey Farm development in Polegate is set to cost Wealden District Council in the region of £150,000 of tax-payers money.

The 11-day inquiry into whether the appellant Pelham Holdings should be allowed to build 520 homes on land adjacent to the South Downs National Park, got under way on January 11 at the Boship Farm Hotel.

The cost of fighting the appeal will have to be found from the council’s Environmental Services budget, and includes legal fees and expert witnesses, a Wealden spokesman said.

The development has come up against strong objections from the Polegate community and an Environmental Protection Organisations (EPOs) group was set up for the purposes of the Inquiry.

In the latest development, the Highways Agency has confirmed it will now attend, after Polegate’s MP, Norman Baker stepped in to intervene.

The Highways Agency’s appearance at the inquiry was requested by many Polegate residents, in addition to Long Man Parish Council.

Mr Baker said, “It was quite right, in my view, for local residents to request the presence of the Highways Agency at the inquiry and I was pleased by its constructive response to that request.

“I relayed that to the Inspectorate and I am very pleased that their appearance is going ahead.

“This proposed development has been a matter of concern for local residents, as one might expect, so it is crucial that they feel there is transparency and I believe that the Highways Agency appearing at the inquiry will provide some comfort in that regard,” he added.

District councillor Roy Martin added, “I have been attending this inquiry and it would have been very unfortunate if the Highways Agency had failed to attend, as a great many issues revolve around highways and the proposed bridges.

“Their appearance should be constructive, and I welcome it.”