More Wealden housing to have ‘considerable impact’ on road network

Wealden District Council is currently consulting on its draft local plan
Wealden District Council is currently consulting on its draft local plan

Extra housing planned for the Wealden district will put more strain on East Sussex’s roads and its education system, according to the county council.

Wealden District Council is holding an eight-week public consultation on its draft planning framework, which sets out where new homes and jobs will be provided up to 2028.

At a meeting on Monday (September 17), Nick Bennett, East Sussex County Council’s lead member for transport and environment, authorised officers to make a submission on behalf of the authority to the consultation.

Officers explained how growth, particularly housing provision, was the most significant of all the areas in East Sussex. This would have a ‘considerable impact’ on both the highways network and education system.

They explained how junction and capacity improvements already proposed would have to be enhanced further or delivered earlier.

An offline solution for the A27 between Polegate and Lewes was ‘not required’ in the plan period, but ‘will need to be considered’ beyond the end of it.

Meanwhile extra school places would be required in Hailsham.

Officers argued they had not been presented with adequate information on  individual site allocations to form a judgement on their acceptability, while they had been given sight of changes to the draft plan ‘late in the day’.

Further corridor studies would need to be carried out for the district’s A-class roads.

They said the plan did include robust infrastructure and development plan policies and while these were ‘broadly welcomed’ there remained significant challenges around the funding and delivery of necessary infrastructure improvements.

A spokesman for Wealden District Council said: “The information about the proposed strategic sites in Wealden the proposed submission local plan has been public since March 2017. The additional 2,516 windfall sites are spread around the north of the district and of a much smaller size. By their very nature, as windfall sites, the exact location won’t be known until an application is received and approved,

“The timetable has been tight as we sought to find appropriate locations to meet demands for a five year housing supply. Throughout the process, we have always sought to keep county officers and councillors informed of our thinking at the earliest opportunity.”

The draft local plan was approved for consultation by district councillors earlier in the summer.

In its current form, the plan allocates the development of 14,228 dwellings for various areas of the district between 2013 and 2028. This is made up of 5,307 dwellings with existing planning permission, 4,012 dwellings on allocated sites and 2,516 windfall dwellings, with the remaining homes already completed.

The vast majority of these dwellings have been allocated to the South Wealden Growth Area – which includes Hailsham, Stone Cross, Hellingly, Polegate and Willingdon – although significant developments are also set for Ninfield, Horam, Heathfield, Mayfield and Wadhurst.

Recent debate has focused on air quality, its impact on the Ashdown Forest and the level of traffic that would be generated by new development.

The local plan includes an air quality management tariff levied on new homes. This would create a pot of money Wealden District Council could use towards delivering various mitigation measures.

Both Richard Stogdon (Con,Crowborough North and Jarvis Brook) and Sylvia Tidy (Con, Crowborough South and St Johns) raised concerns about the ability of some of Crowborough’s roads to cope with new development proposed.

Meanwhile Mr Stogdon said he was ‘not convinced’ by the approach of  a mitigation tariff.  He said: “I think Wealden has been gung-ho about this whole issue of the forest.”

Consultation on the local plan closes on Monday October 8. To comment visit the council’s website.