LETTER: Devastation of the Low Weald

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On Thursday, October 13, Wealden District Council Planning Committee South approved another 533 houses to be built in the Low Weald (in addition to the thousands already approved).

Another 110 at Hailsham (which took precisely 10 minutes to approve), 390 at Willingdon on a site completely unsuitable and virtually inaccessible and 33 in Berwick village along with three new shops and two new offices.

The Planning Committee South is made up of 12 elected councillors and six reserve councillors under the chairmanship of Cllr Susan Stedman. None of these councillors have any qualifications that make them suitable to sit on a District planning committee – none of them are environmentalists, architects, town planners or surveyors. They are elected District Councillors whose sole job should be to represent the wishes of the people who elected them. Nothing more. It is a disgrace to see these people being led by the nose by the planning officers at Wealden whose only purpose is to ensure the continued concreting over of the Low Weald and meeting their completely incorrect housing targets.

There are some good, caring councillors on the planning committee – Clls Ede, Shing and Snell, who always question and disapprove of most developments – stand out from the crowd. The rest of them are only too happy to toe the party line by rubber stamping the planning applications.

I myself have written twice to the Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP the Minister of State responsible for local councils and communities and each time have received a standard letter from an assistant in his ministry totally ignoring my comments and concerns and saying they cannot become involved with District planning decisions!

Meanwhile Wealden District Council continues to protect the High Weald from new development, citing the protected status of the Ashdown Forest as the reason, when there is plenty of land to the north of the forest that could and should be developed.

Instead Wealden is allowed to continue the devastation of the Low Weald where infrastructure is at breaking point, employment is almost non-existent, parking is not controlled and the highways are almost at a standstill. And this is all before many of the approved houses have even broken ground.

Wealden District Council is creating a terrible legacy in the Low Weald and it seems nothing can be done to stop it.

Cllr Wendy Alexander

Old Drive, Polegate

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