New Hellingly housing estate approved

Proposals for a major housing development in Hellingly have been given the go ahead by Wealden planners.

Tuesday, 3rd March 2020, 3:58 pm
Updated Tuesday, 3rd March 2020, 4:03 pm
Layout plan for the new homes

On Thursday (February 27), Wealden District Council’s planning committee south approved a reserved matters application to build 160 new homes on the Sussex Plants site on Park Road. 

The site had previously been granted outline planning permission (for up to 180 houses), meaning the principle of building there had already been agreed by the council. 

Despite this, the meeting saw a number of concerns raised around the development’s risk of flooding and its potential impact on Hailsham’s sewerage system.

Among those to raise concerns, was Hellingly ward councillor David White (Independent), who pointed to the recent raw sewage flooding to properties in nearby Station Road.

He said: “I appreciate that this is a reserved matters application and that the principle of residential development on the site has already been established, however I remain concerned about several aspects of the development as now proposed.

“In particular I remain concerned at the proposal to raise the ground levels across the entire site and the proposals for foul drainage.”

Cllr White went on to point out the concerns about surface water runoff raised by Wealden’s own drainage officer and said he felt it would be “perverse” to approve the application in these circumstances.

 He also stressed the need for conditions to prevent the development being occupied until upgrades could be made to the sewerage system.

Similar criticism was raised by Cllr Neil Cleaver (Lib Dem, Hailsham North West), who said: “I just can’t believe that we are allowing this to get approved and it is up for approval.

“Raising land in that area there. If you raise the land, the water has got to go somewhere else. 

“We have got enough problems in Hailsham North with sewage in rear gardens. It is just a joke and I am totally against it.”

In response, however, officers said the management of surface water flooding had been agreed as part of the outline planning application. 

They argued the land raising was considered to be necessary due to the site being flat and that other measures were in place to mitigate against flooding to neighbouring sites. 

Similar measures at other recently-built housing developments had proven to be effective, officers said.

Officers also stressed that the approval would come with conditions tying development to the sewerage system being upgraded. These conditions would be “robust and enforceable”, officers said.

A similar point was made by Frant and Wadhurst councillor Johanna Howell (Con), who said: “I know we have had a reply [from officers] but I want to make it very clear to everybody who is here that there will be nobody going into these houses before these issues have been sorted out.

“I am also fairly aware, as we all are, that the mitigation which is going on with the new builds should hopefully rectify any of the [existing] drainage issues.”

Following further discussion the scheme was approved with nine votes in favour and three against.

The vast majority of the homes on the site - 120 out of 160 - are expected to be classified as affordable, with a mixture of both affordable rental and affordable ownership homes.

For further details see application reference WD/2019/1744/MRM on the Wealden District Council planning website.