Groups join forces against houses plan

Wealden development areas. SUS-150411-162127008
Wealden development areas. SUS-150411-162127008

Residents’ groups from Wealden have joined forces to oppose a local development plan, which could see more than 20,000 houses built in the area by 2037.

The new organisation – called the Save Wealden from Overdevelopment Team (SWOT) – has been formed to help co-ordinate several existing groups from around the area which are opposed to new housing plans put forward by Wealden District Council.

A public consultation on the proposed plan will run until December 14 and sets out the council’s preferred number and location of new development projects.

The proposed plan could see more than 9,000 houses built in Hailsham alone – a proportional growth of around 97 per cent.

A spokesman for the group said, “SWOT has been formed to provide a coordination and response team.

“It will enable all resident, action or other like-minded groups to communicate with each other and share information and ideas to respond to overdevelopment in Wealden.”

Seven residents’ groups – including those in Hailsham, Herstmonceux and Westham – have joined the new organisation.

The groups say the plans would lead to the district becoming overdeveloped as the current infrastructure could not cope with the growing population.

Since 2012 local authorities have been required to set out a long-term planning framework in a Local Plan.

These plans can be rejected by the national planning inspectorate if they fail to provide enough new houses in the area.

The council says that by extending the time period of the plan and by offering up more houses than required by national guidelines it will be able to retain a greater control of its future development.

Speaking earlier this year, Wealden District Council leader Bob Standley said, “The number of new homes may surprise some but they reflect the need across Wealden alongside a wider responsibility to help meet the future housing needs of neighbouring authorities.

“With the extended period we have chosen for the new Local Plan, we can plan for an era of growth while retaining our highly-prized landscape and environment.

“It is important that with the new housing we also deliver the required infrastructure including healthcare, school places and transport links as well as the employment opportunities.

“We need to have vision to take this opportunity to plan ahead for a brighter future. We need to plan because if we don’t, we will get unplanned development which will not give all the benefits our communities need.”

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