Controversial Wealden planning policy could be resolved in coming weeks

Ashdown Forest SUS-160427-000201008
Ashdown Forest SUS-160427-000201008

A resolution could potentially be in sight for a controversial planning policy at Wealden council which has halted many proposed developments.

Some months ago the local authority wrote to developers about policies in its new local plan and said it would be withholding planning permission on all developments involving what it called “increased vehicle use” due to concerns about nitrogen levels in the Ashdown Forest.

As a result almost all proposed new housing in the area has been put on indefinite hold leading to a backlash from developers and a backlog of planning applications waiting to be determined by the council.

Now, the council says it will be looking at its local plan on April 25 – after a written response from the Natural England conservation group about air quality and environmental issues within Ashdown Forest due by February 16.

Wealden also wants other councils close to or enclosed within the Forest to follow its lead and says there are similar concerns about the Pevensey Levels and Lewes Downs.

Officers have objected to relevant applications and say they will continue to oppose any schemes which could result in extra traffic being generated.

A council spokesperson said, “We have written to neighbouring planning authorities setting out our view that an assessment under Habitats Regulations should be undertaken on specific planning applications where developments might lead to increased vehicle movements over Ashdown Forest. We will object to development proposals if we believe they could impact on Ashdown Forest. Wealden is aware this precautionary approach places a burden on neighbours and is working with them to find solutions to bring forward development for the benefit of everyone whilst maintaining our duty and legal obligations to protect Ashdown Forest.”