Plan for hundreds of homes sparks protest

North Hailsham and hellingly campaign against further development. Protest at Wealden District offices. August 16th 2012 E33068N'ESCC  Cllr Roger Thomas addresses the protesters.
North Hailsham and hellingly campaign against further development. Protest at Wealden District offices. August 16th 2012 E33068N'ESCC Cllr Roger Thomas addresses the protesters.
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CAMPAIGNERS staged a protest outside council offices in Hailsham over plans to build hundreds of homes in the town.

Residents say land between North Hailsham and Hellingly in the space between New Road, Park Road and the A271 is once again under threat of development.

Back in 2005 there were plans to build 550 homes which caused a stir among locals. Now residents are up in arms after the area was identified in Wealden District Council’s core strategy for development of 700 homes and a developer has shown an interest in building on the land.

Grant de Jongh, chairman for the North Hailsham and Hellingly Residents Union, was at Wealden District Council (WDC) premises in Vicarage Lane on Thursday with a group of protestors.

He said, “This is the third time in eight years developers are trying to eradicate this beautiful buffer of land between the North of Hailsham and Hellingly area.

“Developers purchased the land six years ago fully aware that hundreds of residents did not want them to develop it. Now the residents of North Hailsham and Hellingly need to stand together and fight this agenda to the end.

“If we lose there will no longer be a difference between Hailsham and Hellingly, the areas will be merged. Not only that, but development will continue for at least three years.

“All surrounding homes will be overlooked and devalued. Worst of all the wildlife and peaceful environment we value so dearly will be lost.”

At the protest a petition, which has gained more than 500 signatures, was handed over to a council representative.

It is calling on WDC to remove the land in question from its Core Strategy and to protect it indefinitely from all future development.

A spokesman for WDC said, “No planning application has been received by Wealden District Council for the land in question.

“A developer has held an exhibition as part of their duty to consult residents; this was not a WDC consultation and does not mean WDC necessarily agrees with or supports the development of this land.

“The 2005 application was rejected because the land was not at that time identified for development in Wealden’s planning policies, because the application did not sufficiently allow for improvements to infrastructure to take account of the increased traffic levels, and because of the environmental impact it would have had on the Pevensey Levels.

“While this land has now been identified for possible development, any future application will still need to demonstrate that it will mitigate these impacts to the Council’s satisfaction.

“Additionally, while the north Hailsham area has been identified as a broad location for the development of 700 dwellings, employment and retail space and education provision, the precise area for development and the requirements to make development acceptable in that area have not yet been identified. This is being done through the Strategic Sites Development Plan Document as part of the Local Plan process.”

l The North Hailsham and Hellingly Residents’ Union is holding a meeting about the issue on September 19.

It will take place at Emmanuel Church Hall in Hawkswood Road at 8pm and people have the chance to ask questions. Councillor Nick Bennett is due to attend.