Planners object to 180 new Polegate homes

Planners have welcomed a new medical centre for Polegate – but objected to 180 new homes being built next to it.

Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 12:53 pm

Polegate Town Council held a remote planning meeting about the development in the area known as Hindsland recently.

The meeting was attended by five councillors – Wendy Alexander, Cherie Berry, Margaret Piper, Martin Falkner, and Lisa Sargent.

According to the report on Wealden District Council’s website, the plans would cover nearly 102,300 sq ft of what is currently woodland and used for agriculture.

Photo from Wealden District Council SUS-211205-122830001

A statement from the council said, “The planning committee debated at length about the impact this development would have on the wildlife, environment, flood plains, roads, schools and general infrastructure of our area.”

The statement revealed councillors were ‘100 per cent behind the town needing a new medical centre’ but the discussion around the 180 homes wasn’t as straight forward.

The report said, “Councillors expressed their dismay at what they felt was being held ‘ransom’ by developers in order to get the medical centre with some councillors stating the fact that another site is currently not forthcoming.

“However, after lengthy discussions the planning committee objected to the planned application.”

An artist's impression of the Polegate development SUS-211105-132610001

Minutes from the meeting revealed there have been ‘many objections to this application’. Issues around over-development, loss of green spaces, traffic congestion and pollution, lack of employment, and over-flow of facilities and services being the main talking points.

In response to these problems, the design and access statement for the plans state, “Where possible, the results of the environmental assessments of the proposed development have been fed through to the design team to avoid or reduce likely significant effects occurring.

“There is a clear and present need for new housing in Wealden and the application site is a location identified in the adopted development plan

for new housing.

“The application proposal would make a valuable contribution to local housing need both in terms of market and affordable housing. The scheme also allows for the provision of land safeguarded for a community/medical facility to meet local needs.”

The minutes stated one attending councillor said, “It is obvious Polegate desperately needs new medical facilities. Due to other developments that have swallowed up the remaining green space in and around Polegate, our local population is rapidly growing.

“I do not accept that the only way to achieve new medical facilities is by accepting yet more unwanted development. I will continue to work hard along with my fellow councillors to pursue new medical facilities but not at the cost of losing our last remaining green space for us and future generations.”

Another councillor said, “The sad fact is that unless we approve this development, within two or three years there will be no medical facilities left in Polegate and 18,000+ plus patients who currently attend at Downlands or Manor Park will be looking for cover elsewhere. Hailsham and Eastbourne surgeries are already oversubscribed so I don’t know what we will do then.”

An attending councillor said, “I strongly object to being held to ransom by developers – in this case 180 houses in exchange for a medical centre – but honestly I can’t see any alternative. No-one has come up with any other viable plans for a new centre which is so desperately needed by Willingdon and Polegate.”

The town councillors objected to the plans, but final decision as to whether the plans are approved now rests with Wealden District Council. The date for this planning committee meeting is yet to be confirmed.

The full plans can be viewed on the Wealden District Council website.