Thumbs down for new homes

Ersham Road, Hailsham SUS-140218-123901001
Ersham Road, Hailsham SUS-140218-123901001

A plan to build 170 new homes at Oaklands, Ersham Road ,received a unanimous thumbs-down from councillors at Hailsham Town Council’s planning committee meeting on July 15.

More than 50 people had emailed or written to the council condemning the scheme which, they said, would ‘blight their lives.’

Town planners MHD submited the proposal on behalf of developers MASMA. But opponents pointed it simply replaces an application for 195 homes on the same site which was refused by Wealden District Council in 2012. It is not yet known when the final decision - responsibility of the District Council - will be made.

Co-ordinator of the objectors’ campaign, Tom Dalgleigh from Sycamore Drive, said, “To put it bluntly, if this application is approved then we might as well disband planning departments all over the country and let there be a free-for-all.”

At the town meeting, the council chamber was packed with residents who presented their views throughout the first 30 minutes of the debate.

Ross Hollister said, “The local plan has been carefully constructed, commented on by experts, consulted upon, and agreed. Allowing a developer to build outside of the plan would simply be allowing money to override conscientious planning.”

Other objections focused on traffic congestion. While the proposed scheme could provide the money for an improved roundabout at the top of Ersham Road, speakers said the problem is in the town centre.

They were also concerned about the safety implications of increased traffic coming out of Summerhill Lane onto the A22 and lack of local infrastructure such as medical facilities and schools.

Other residents highlighted how extensive flooding already occurs in the area; how valuable countryside and wildlife habitats would be lost and risks that a sewage treatment system would present to the protected Pevensey Marshes.

Cllrs Bentley and Triandafyllou spoke against the proposal and the committee agreed unanimously to oppose the application - triggering a round of applause from the chamber.

Ross Hollister commented, “It’s very pleasing to have politicians seeking out the views of local people, and listening attentively. This is how it should happen. I hope Wealden District Council is as respectful of local feelings.”