POLEGATE: Development ‘could spell end for town’

A GIANT development of 520 new homes near the South Downs National Park will be the “end of Polegate” said the town’s mayor.

Today is the last session of the three-week long public inquiry into whether the appellant, Pelham Holdings, should be allowed to build the residential development on land at Honey Farm, West of Polegate.

Pelham took its fight to an independent Planning Inspector after Wealden District Council rejected the developer’s bid, back in December 2009.

The inquiry heard evidence from the applicants, Pelham Holdings as well as a range of expert witnesses on behalf of Wealden, across the 11 day appeal, which has cost Wealden District Council in the region of £150,000.

Polegate’s Mayor, Cllr Tim Voyce, said Polegate residents would suffer if Pelham’s appeal was successful.

“This has been a most interesting inquiry. We have listened to evidence from both sides, but nothing I have heard or read has persuaded me that the Appeal proposals will result in anything other than an isolated, disconnected island development at Honey Farm,” he said.

“The application is for a development which is in the wrong place and I hope the evidence produced at this public inquiry will convince the Inspector and Secretary of State of that fact.

As a Town Council, my colleagues and I are very aware that it is Polegate residents who will have to live with the consequences of the development if the appeal succeeds.

“The urban encroachment of our countryside, will result in a negative impact on the South Downs National Park and Wootton Manor, safari park fencing, two pedestrian/cycle bridges, intrusion into Brookside Avenue, increased traffic on local roads, stretched local infrastructure – truly the end of Polegate as we know it,” he added.

Christopher Boyle, who spoke on behalf of Pelham Holdings, was the first to present his case at the public inquiry.

He said that the majority of the site had been allocated for residential development by the local planning authority and Wealden should not have refused the application when it came before them back in December 2009.

“The council’s response is characterised by mistake, misunderstanding and mischief,” he said.

“The council mistakenly believes that the Government has given it the right and ability to come to any housing requirement it likes.”

Mr Boyle said Wealden District Council had ‘doggedly embarked on a course of plan-making quite heroic in its errors’.

“Indeed, so breathtakingly wrong-headed is the approach to housing delivery set out in the recent Draft Core Strategy, that its promotion amounts to a hubris seldom seen in the sincere,” he added.

The average time to decide planning appeals is up to 28 weeks.