HAILSHAM: Homes’ approval decision upheld

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COURT Lodge opponents are taking their fight to the Local Government Ombudsman after a controversial ‘garden grabbing’ scheme was given the go-ahead.

The application to build 14 affordable houses at Court Lodge on Coldharbour Road in Lower Dicker was narrowly approved by Wealden’s Planning Committee South on November 11 after the committee chairman cast the deciding vote.

But the application was later called in to be reviewed by a separate planning committee after three councillors disagreed with the decision.

Plans to develop on the rural exception site were originally given the go-ahead in 2008, but fell at the final hurdle when the applicant refused to sign a 106 legal agreement to secure developer contributions.

Objectors say the application is an example of bad planning and would create further traffic on an already dangerous junction.

They also believe there is not enough evidence to justify the demand for affordable housing on the site.

But at Wealden’s Planning Committee North meeting on Thursday, December 16, councillors upheld the original decision to grant planning permission, despite objections from residents over the safety record of the A22 and the lack of facilities in the area.

Speaking in support of the application, Cllr Chantal Willson said, “We can’t I’m afraid just change our minds.

“If it was a mistake, and I think it may have been, it is something we will have to live with.”

Now angry residents of Lower Dicker have lodged a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman and to Wealden’s MP, Charles Hendry, over what they describe as an ‘abuse of process’ regarding the November planning meeting.

The complaint centres around the alleged conduct of Wealden District Council staff and ‘misleading presentation of information’ to the planning committee south.

A spokesman from Wealden District Council said, “The decision by planning committee south to grant planning permission for this development was reviewed by planning committee north which confirmed the decision to grant permission.”