HeathfieldGreen.Space is the new name for StopVinesCorner
Dedicated to protecting and enhancing green spaces in and around Heathfield
We have exciting news !
The StopVinesCorner website is being rebranded as HeathfieldGreen.Space' which is dedicated to protecting and enhancing green spaces in and around Heathfield … and to challenging both Local (Parish) and District policy makers on the planning policy and decisions which have so much impact on our quality of life.
We feel this reflects the over-arching interest that we have in the protection and conservation of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which surrounds us all and we believe that there is a groundswell of interest in this.
Following discussion with colleagues we feel that the time is right for us to put Green Space at the forefront of our efforts and indeed our working name.
Sarah Bushnell, Secretary to HeathfieldGreen. Space and StopVinesCorner Group
Michael John Gadd, Statistics and Local, National Government Coordinator
PLEASE SCROLL DOWN TO READ MORE ...
As a brief recap: you may recall that the Wealden Local Plan was withdrawn in February this year … this was after 4 years of effort using a great deal of 'manpower' (and cost) both from Wealden Planning, the District Councillors and technical expertise many experts such as Chris Blandford Associates … all of which were drawn upon in the assembly of the Plan.
The UK Government Planning Inspector Louise Nurser BA (Hons) Dip UP MRTPI criticised the WDC Local Plan 2019 …. citing that: WDC failed in their Duty To Cooperate with surrounding Districts … failed take on the unmet housing needs of surrounding Districts ... and (she considered) WDC's approach to the air quality issues within the Habitats Regulations Assessment was not justified and lacking in “scientific credibility”.
The withdrawal was a huge blow for all because although the WDC Local Plan 2019 was not 'perfect' it was supportive of need to protect our High Value landscapes … The High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Pevensey Levels and the Ashdown Forest Special Area of Conservation.
Specifically for Heathfield and Waldron Parish which includes Cross In Hand, Broad Oak and parts of Punnetts Town … there was a recognition that Heathfield should continue in its role as a town centre serving quite a wide area around it while it's important location in The High Weald should underpin a continuing role in attracting Tourism.
Reassuringly the WDC Local Plan of 2019 outlined that smaller housing developments were more appropriate than the very large developments of over 200+ houses which Heathfield was threatened with in 2015/2016.
PLEASE SCROLL DOWN TO READ ABOUT THE BIG ISSUES ...
While we fully appreciate that many people will not want to see any development in the AONB around us … the reality is that the 'rules' in the UK Government's National Planning Policy Framework are not 'black and white' nor 'set in stone'.
We have to also recognise that Developers are backed with generous investment and funding and WDC Planning department is tasked with achieving approvals for many thousands of homes in Wealden … both those parties are adept at arguing that some areas of the AONB are 'less valuable' than other areas … thereby allowing WDC to approve housing developments in the AONB.
So... where do things stand now … WDC is starting up a new WDC Local Plan and the production of the Plan is expected to take at least 2 years.
The numbers of homes for Wealden District which are circulating in the public domain are very worrying indeed... being XX,000 homes to be built over a plan period of X years which equates to an Annual Build Rate of X,000 homes per year.
No-one in Wealden District can possibly imagine that such a large number of homes to be built will not 'touch' the area where each of us lives … one thing we can be sure of is that new homes are coming, in very large numbers and they could well be arriving at a location in or near to Heathfield !
What can be done about this ? ...
PLEASE SCROLL DOWN TO READ ABOUT WHAT WE WILL DO ...
HeathfieldGreen.Space group wants to be involved in the process of developing the new Plan.
(In 2019 members of the StopVinesCorner group were invited to attend the meetings held by the UK Gov't Inspector Louise Nurser when she reviewed the WDC Local Plan dated August 2018.)
We wish to see the Vision for Heathfield re-confirmed as a service centre for the surrounding areas and re-affirmed in it's role of attracting Tourism due to its wonderful position in the High Weald AONB.
We wish to see the new WDC Local Plan
confirming that developments in the High Weald AONB will comply with the standards for design, layout and materials in the High Weald Design Guide.
We wish to see the WDC Local Plan confirming the strategy of only allowing small developments of homes in The High Weald AONB.
We will continue to challenge planning applications which do not comply with the standards in the HW Design Guide and WDC's own planning policies.
The High Weald AONB Unit Design Guide has been adopted by WDC planning …. however the standard of homes we see being approved for development and 'built out' rarely meet those standards.
We will lobby H&W Parish and WDC District Councillors on this matter
We will continue to lobby H&W Parish and WDC District Councillors on the important matter of a Neighbourhood Plan for Heathfield.
In March 2020 we requested that Heathfield & Waldron Parish Council should start up a Neighbourhood Plan for Heathfield … because there is significant local interest in Heathfield (including Cross In Hand, Broad Oak and Punnetts Town).
The loss of the WDC Local Plan 2019 and the history of Heathfield being targeted by developers favouring high density inappropriate housing on AONB sites and along the A265 are powerful drivers.
But H&W Parish Council refused to start up a Neighbourhood Plan.
Heathfield is still lacking the larger areas of open green space advised as being very important for physical and mental well-being in the 'Wealden Green Infrastructure Study' by Chris Blandford Associates (commissioned by WDC for the previous WDC Local Plan now withdrawn).
We will continue to lobby H&W Parish and WDC District Councillors on this matter ... and we will feedback into the new WDC Local Plan at the consultancy stages about the need for public access to larger green open spaces and conservation of green infrastructure .
In 2016 we gained the ACV for the large field known as the Top Of The World at Vines Corner … making it an Asset of Community Value …
However the landowner has ignored the requirement of Isabel Garden the WDC Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Planning, Policy & Environmental Services that he should provide continuing means of access … to what are widely acknowledged to be the finest views across the High Weald and Rother Valley.
Instead the landowner has prevented public access to that field which gives onto trails into the Ancient Woodland and leading to Millenium Green and the footpath network.
We will apply for renewal of the ACV for a further 5 years.
Local Farmers are not considered or 'looked after' in the WDC Policies or the WDC Local Plan … yet they play a hugely important role in the provision of high quality meat and fruit as well as the management of vast tracts of the countryside, hedgerows, haws and woodland.
We will lobby the Farming organisation/s and WDC about this matter … local farming needs including transport by very large vehicles of Hay, Sillage and Animals must be considered and met as part of any housing development.
Developers frequently fail to honour the 35% Affordable Homes Condition attached to Major Developments … which can be as low as 10 homes in AONB locations.
Typically developers claim that provision of those homes will make the development unprofitable / unviable financially ... even when EDC has already conducted a Viability Assessment of the site and found it to be financially viable.
We will continue to lobby H&W Parish and WDC District Councillors whenever we are aware of a developer application to remove the Affordable Homes condition from their planning approval.
PLEASE SCROLL DOWN TO READ ABOUT THE UK GOV'T WHITE PAPER ...
Finally there is a UK Government White Paper which is as yet not 'law' seeking to radically change the Planning process. We are in the process of endeavouring to understand as much of this as we can and we will provide both the White Paper and our comments on this website HeathfieldGreen.Space.
Quite how or if the above radical changes will affect the new WDC Local Plan is yet to be seen … we will keep you posted.
We are happy to tell you more about HeathfieldGreen.Spaced and StopVinesCorner and to assist with your objection to housing planning applications in Heathfield, Cross In Hand and Broad Oak.
Please telephone so we can arrange a convenient time.
Little Marklye, Marklye Lane, HEATHFIELD, East Sussex TN21 8QB, GB
Leader of Wealden District Council, Councillor Bob Standley, Berriedale, Mayfield Lane, Wadhurst. East Sussex TN5 6JE Telephone 01892 783579
Wealden District Councillor for Framfield & Cross-in-Hand:
Cllr Ann Newton, Highlands, Framfield Road, Blackboys. East Sussex TN22 5LR
Telephone: 01825 890103
Trevor Scott Wealden District Council Chief Executive Telephone 01323 443322
Isabel Garden Wealden District Council Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Planning, Policy & Environmental Services Telephone 01323 443322
Stacey Robbins - Wealden District Council Head of Planning & Building Control
Chris Bending - Wealden District Council Head of Policy & Economic Development
Wealden District Council, Vicarage Lane Hailsham. BN27 2AX Telephone 01323 443322
Huw Merriman MP, 29-31 Sea Rd, Bexhill-on-Sea TN40 1EE Telephone 01424 736861 SW1A 0AA
Nusrat Ghani MP, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA Tel: 020 7219 4619
Councillor Rupert Simmons, Beacon View Cottage Waldron Heathfield TN21 0QU. Phone: 01435 813481.
Chair of Heathfield & Waldron Parish Council, Councillor Andy Woolley, 1 Hawthorne Close, Heathfield. East Sussex. TN21 8HP Telephone: 01435 860655
Chair of Heathfield & Waldron Parish Planning Committee, Councillor Patrick Coffey, 8 Cherwell Road, Heathfield. East Sussex. TN21 8JT Telephone: 01435 866244
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