Surprise over suggestions

I WAS somewhat surprised to read in the Herald suggestions about “keeping the parish councillors in the dark” and “inadequate consultation” with regards to the proposed allocation of land at Hindsland and Mornings Mill Farm for new homes.

Wealden District Council has consulted widely about the proposed site, both in our Issues and Options consultation of 2007 and the Shaping Wealden’s Future consultation in the summer of 2009. The consultations have included a leaflet drop to all households, public exhibitions and drop-in events and presentations to parish councils and other organisations. They have also been widely publicised in the Gazette and Herald.

We have had to fight a long, hard battle to ensure the district is not saddled with a set of unrealistic housing targets, but we have been successful. We are now in a position to go ahead with proposals much more in keeping with the democratic wishes of our residents.

As chairman of the sub-committee involved with our Local Development Framework process, I am well aware that, while seeking to produce a balanced strategy we will never meet everyone’s aspirations. However, I do believe by listening and consulting widely we have produced a coherent, sustainable strategy which is vital if we are going to protect our countryside from a developers’ free-for-all in the future.

The strategy contains tough measures to ensure residents are not short-changed on promised infrastructure provisions and we have been at pains to first validate this Willingdon location with all infrastructure providers including the Highways Authority and water companies, before going ahead with the proposal. A key part of our strategy is that development will not go ahead without clear plans for the necessary investment in roads, schools, medical facilities and other infrastructure.

Subject to approval at this week’s meeting of Wealden District Council, the Core Strategy will be formally published and go before an independent planning inspector. Interested parties will then be able to make further representations as to soundness of our strategy.

Councillor Roy Galley

Cabinet member for Planning and Development

Wealden District Council