New homes plan under fire at village meeting

Residents await the start of Monday night's meeting at East Dean village hall. SUS-140916-084145001
Residents await the start of Monday night's meeting at East Dean village hall. SUS-140916-084145001

Villagers opposed to plans for new homes between The Fridays and the recreation ground in East Dean have been urged to take their protests to the doors of the planners.

At a packed village hall meeting on Monday evening residents voiced strong concerns over plans by The Gilbert Estate to build 11 properties on current agricultural land.

The meeting had been called by the parish council to allow opinions to be expressed over the development plans which had been lodged and initial talks with planners held without prior knowledge of the council.

Chairman Stuart Fuller said the council had protested at not being consulted early enough but told the meeting they did not have the powers to block the plans – only to offer recommendations.

He clarified the development would only be rejected by planners on certain grounds and urged speakers to stick to those subjects where possible. These included if it was in breach of the local development plan, government policy and highway safety.

The plans are for one four/five bedroom house and six three-bedroom houses and four affordable units – one three-bedroom house, a two-bedroom house and two one-bedroom flats.

Mr Fuller explained the councillors would listen to the debate and then draw up their response to planners. “Planners are obliged to ask for and listen to our opinions but not obliged to follow them,” he added.

There followed a 90-minute debate which provided overwhelming opposition to the plans – Ruth Maxwell reading a statement on behalf of the Residents’ Association claiming that on several counts it breached guidelines and also failed to address the needs of the village – a theme repeated many times during the meeting.

Numerous speakers followed while representatives of the cricket club, whose pitch is adjacent to the site, also voiced fears which they hope would be addressed by planners or developers in the event of the plan going ahead.