Hailsham housing approved despite flooding concerns

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Wealden planners have approved outline plans for a major housing development in Hailsham, despite concerns around recent foul water flooding.

On Thursday (November 7), Wealden District Council’s planning committee south granted outline planning permission for a housing development on land off Station Road, which lies to the south of the 400-home Cuckoo Fields scheme granted outline planning permission last March.

While the approved plan provides outline permission for up to 100 homes, conditions would limit the actual scheme to no more than 55 homes – equal to the remaining windfall allowance the council can use to offset its housing supply targets.

During the meeting concerns were raised over how the scheme could impact on Southern Water’s foul water drainage network, which overflowed and flooded out of manholes on Old Swan Lane over the weekend.

Among those to raise concerns was ward councillor Gavin Blake-Coggins (Lib Dem), who said: “We have experienced over this weekend a terrible situation with flooding down there. 

“As the system currently is, we have evidence of foul water sewerage in the drainage system and coming out of manholes, for whatever reason. 

“If sewerage is getting into waste surface water there is a problem somewhere. I rather hope that is addressed immediately, before the spade gets stuck in the ground to put those houses in.”

Similar concerns were raised by Cllr Neil Cleaver, who had previously called for nearby developments to be halted until Southern Water makes upgrades to its infrastructure. 

Officers, however, said conditions included in the scheme would prevent any below ground level works taking place until an improvement scheme is approved. 

Southern Water had also not raised objections, officers said, subject to upgrade works partly paid for by the developer via the new infrastructure charge with the remainder funded through its own capital works programme. 

Discussing the issue earlier in the meeting, Wealden’s head of planning Chris Bending said: “We wrote to Southern Water urgently on Monday to seek their assurance that the events on the ground over the last few days had not changed their position. 

“Southern Water have written back to us and confirmed  that they are aware of the need to put upgrades in place. 

“It’s not something that is new to them. They are aware of the issue and they are planning to have upgrades to both to the sewerage treatment works itself and the network which links the site to the treatment works in place in advance of the site needing that additional capacity.”

Other committee members supported the approach recommended  by officers, although there was some criticism of Southern Water’s initial  handling of the flooding by Cllr Bob Bowdler (Con, Horam and Punnets Town).

Committee members had also raised concerns around the scheme’s impact on traffic in Station Road. However, developers would be expected to contribute funds to improve the roundabout at the Station Road and Diplocks Way junction as part of the application’s conditions.

According to officers, these road improvement works would be likely to affect a village green next to the existing roundabout. As a result the developers have committed to providing a replacement green space within the 400-home development.

Following further discussion the application was approved nine votes to two against.

For further details of the application see planning reference WD/2019/1864/MAO on the Wealden District Council website.