HAILSHAM: County accused of incompetence

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A WEALDEN district councillor has branded East Sussex County Council as ‘inept and incompetent’ after it failed to back up a request for developer contributions.

At Wealden’s Planning Committee South meeting on Thursday, February 3, Wealden councillors unanimously voted against plans to delete developer contributions towards nursery schools and library facilities at two major housing sites in Hailsham and Hellingly.

Taylor Wimpey, the developers of Welbury and Woodholm Farms in Hailsham, where 460 homes are due to be built, asked Wealden District Council to amend an earlier 106 agreement, releasing them from paying money for nursery provision as well as financial contributions towards a library.

This came after it emerged that East Sussex County Council was unable to justify seeking money for the extra facilities.

In a similar move Persimmons, the developer of the former Hellingly Hospital site, also asked to be released from paying money towards nursery provision and library facilities in the town.

But at Wealden’s Planning Committee South meeting, councillors unanimously voted against their own officers’ recommendations to amend the 106 agreements on both sites.

Wealden District Councillor David White described ESCC as inept and incompetent for failing to substantiate the need for developer contributions.

“It is quite ludicrous, we have the funds here available and they say we have got the need for the funds but they are simply not giving the back up support.

“If they are not interested they should get out of the way and let the Parish Council do it for them,” he added.

Councillor Andy Watkins, ward councillor for Alfriston, was on the original planning committee which approved the Hellingly Hospital development.

He said, “As a councillor sitting on a planning committee, we consider applications in the round. We consider what developer contributions are coming as a result.

“When subsequently those developer contributions are pulled, for whatever reason, you just feel that if the matters which you take into account at the time, have changed, you may never have made that original decision.

“You do feel as a councillor that you have been rather let down,” he added.