The new Wealden Local Plan Draft Proposed Submission Document contains a range of environmental measures to ensure growth can proceed without causing irreversible damage to our regionally important ecology.
“Our proposals are in line with the latest Government aims to meet the widespread housing need,” said Councillor Ann Newton, Cabinet member for Planning & Development.
“Mitigation measures and a thorough review system will ensure that the growth and prosperity needed in Wealden does not conflict with our many environmental responsibilities. These include Ashdown Forest, one of the largest stretched of lowland heath in Britain, the Lewes Chalk Downs and the Pevensey Levels.”
“Developers will be expected to install certain infrastructure items on site and make a contribution to ensure this protection succeeds.”
The Wealden Local Plan will meet its Objectively Assessed Housing Need, and will mean 14,228 homes in total should be built across the District between 2013 and 2028. Some 7,700 dwellings are already built or have planning permission.
By embracing a wider range of environmental safeguards, the Council has been able to increase housing numbers from the 2013-2028 figure of 11,456 published in March 2017.
The focus of growth remains on the south but the 2018 Plan allows for a more balanced approach to housing and economic growth across the District to reduce the need to commute. It outlines opportunities for retail and employment to support this.
Smaller sites for housing allocations have been identified within sustainable settlements. The majority of these allocations are in Hailsham, Polegate and Willington, Stone Cross, Ninfield, Horam, Heathfield, Mayfield,and Wadhurst. These will account for the sites for 4,012 new homes.
Windfall developments, may account for a further 2,516 dwellings. Some of these can be delivered within development boundaries and through Neighbourhood Development Plans, which allow the local community an involvement in site allocation.
These also include core areas where local housing needs of a small scale can be met. The Plan identifies a windfall allowance at the following places: Arlington, Balls Green, Berwick Station, Blackboys, Broad Oak, Chelwood Common, Danehill, Framfield, Frant, Hadlow Down, Hankham, Isfield, Lower Horsebridge, Maresfield, Mark Cross, Punnetts Town, Ripe, Chalvington, Rushlake Green, Town Row, Upper Dicker and Windmill Hill.
Development of single dwellings in the countryside is not ruled out, providing they conform to development plan policies, particularly those regarding property on agricultural land.
Governing the progress of the Local Plan will be the Constraints and Review Mechanism. Land won’t be released without the timely provision of the infrastructure necessary to deliver housing. This includes transport improvements in the South Wealden Growth Area (SWGA), improvements to the Hailsham North and Hailsham South Waste Water Treatment Works, and mitigation measures for Ashdown Forest Special Area of Conservation. If these do not take place, it will trigger a review, in part or in whole of the Plan.
The delivery of road improvements, schools and medical provision has always been a key part of the Wealden Local Plan. Wealden will be working with key local stakeholders, strategic transport providers and developers to enable the funding and delivery of the strategic road at the earliest opportunity.
The Local Plan also identifies land for up to 22,500 net additional sq. metres of employment floor space and 4,350 sq. metres net additional retail floor space over the period 2015 to 2028.
The Draft of the Local Plan Proposed Submission Document takes into account the earlier Issues Options & Recommendations consultation which took place during the autumn of 2015 and resulted in 2,038 responses from 412 residents and organisations. It will be presented to a meeting of Wealden District Council’s Full Council on 18 July. If approved, there will be a period when the public can make representations as to the soundness of the Plan, before it is sent to an independent Planning Inspector for a final decision.
The Wealden Local Plan Draft Proposed Submission document, as well as its accompanying documents, the Implementation and Monitoring Framework, the Habitats Regulations Assessment and the Sustainability Appraisal can be found on the Wealden District Council website with Local Plan Sub Committee agenda papers http://council.wealden.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=534&MId=4548&Ver=4
Further information about measures to protect the ecology and environment can be found here: http://www.wealden.gov.uk/Wealden/Council/News_and_Events/News/News_Protectectingtheecologyandenvironment437904.aspx