‘It’s time for the public to hold these developers to account’: Residents protest against plans for 700 new homes in Willingdon

Willingdon residents are objecting to a 700-home development plan on land between Eastbourne and Polegate.

Friday, 19th March 2021, 9:18 am

A new bid has been launched to build 700 homes, a medical centre, shops, community centre and primary school on the land.

Previous applications have been thrown out by the council but earlier this year a new submission to Wealden District Council was made to build on Mornings Mill Farm as well as hopes to build 180 homes on neighbouring Hindslands Farm.

Developers say it will be a ‘new sustainable neighbourhood’.

Banner against the development SUS-210318-162641001

The new submission from the Vine family said, “The overall development will create a sustainable and vibrant community of 700 new homes and affordable housing as a natural urban extension to the Polegate and east Willingdon areas, contributing to the delivery of much needed housing in this part of the district.

“The masterplan will bring forward the allocation of land for the development of a two-form entry primary school to be delivered by East Sussex County Council and in a timely manner to suit their programme and needs of the developing neighbourhood.

“The development also includes the provision of a medical centre to serve the local community and one that can provide much needed care. The centre is located by the northern access off Eastbourne Road so it can be delivered as part of the early stages of development to support the needs of the existing local community and the developing neighbourhood.”

Despite this, residents say that the area will not be able to cope with the number of new homes proposed because of the lack of infrastructure, pollution and flooding.

Mornings Mill Farm. Photo by Rosalind Hodge. SUS-210318-162702001

Kim Gardener, Ruth Sheppard and Paul McGivern, who live in Willingdon and Polegate, are leading a community protest against the development.

Paul said, “Local infrastructure in Polegate and Willingdon cannot cope with the amount of housing and additional residents that both applications will bring.

“Plans for Mornings Mill Farm may include a primary school, but in submitted planning documents this doesn’t have to be provided for up to six years and after 500 homes are built.

“Local schools are already oversubscribed according to the developer’s own data, which could mean that local children will have to travel out of area to school in the meantime.”

Poster against the development SUS-210318-162630001

Paul also said the inclusion of the school and medical centre on the site aren’t ‘fully guaranteed’ and local GPs have another preferred site for a medical centre.

He said, “Our fears are that plans will change after approval is granted, the school and medical centre won’t happen and even more housing will be built on the site yet again.

“It’s time for the public to hold these developers to account, as we have seen this time and time again locally.”

Ruth said there is a worry around congestion on the A2270.

Mornings Mill Farm. Photo by Adrian Backshall. SUS-210318-162651001

She said, “That road is already widely known to be at full capacity daily. The developments will bring an additional estimated 2269 resident vehicles using this road, plus commuter and school traffic, trades vehicles and proposed medical centre and shop users. It will increase the traffic exponentially and cause severe safety and pollution issues.”

The group said there are already flooding issues and residents are concerned that the sewage, surface water and drainage systems will not be able to cope if the development is given the green light.

Kim said, “My garden already floods on a regular basis. It will only get worse with the sheer size of these developments.”

Residents say air particle pollution is already recorded as unhealthy and very unhealthy in Willingdon daily, according to the Air Quality Index website - something that will worsen if the homes are built.

Residents have been displaying banners and posters to show support against the development.

Anyone wanting to object should do so by emailing [email protected]

Further information is available on the Facebook Group called `Against New Development on Mornings Mill Farm, Eastbourne Road’.