WDC Local Plan Responses By 8th Oct 17:00

14,228 Homes for Wealden

The  Key Numbers are:

 759 Housing Units for Heathfield !

This comprises: 401 units already approved, 133 units planned and shown in this Plan and 225 units as 'Windfalls'.


14,228 Housing Units for Wealden District to be delivered between 2013 and 2028. 


This breaks down as: 5307 already having planning approval, 4012 units for the allocated sites in the plan and 2516 units to come from 'windfalls'.


This Local Plan has a 15 year period which represents a build rate of approx 950 per year - compared to earlier plans which were over longer periods and required approx 812 units per year.  So there is an increase of about 130 units per year across the District.


  

The 'tide' of discussion about the need to protect the Ashdown Forest has subsided with Wealden District Council now claiming that  they don't need to fix the existing harm. and that the additional housing units will not cause additional harm.

759 Homes for Heathfield !

In addition to the 401 housing already approved - the Local Plan Housing allocation contains:


Land south of Burwash Road; (HEA1) for 30 units at The Old Half Moon


Land south west of Ghyll Road; (HEA2) for 103 units


Plus: 'Windfalls' of 225 units expected from:  

Heathfield & Waldron  -  125 from 'Within relevant part of Development Boundary' 


And a further 100 from:

Broak Oak Core Area - 50,

 Punnetts Town Core Area 40 and

 10 Within relevant part of Development Boundary.


Plus for the High Street there is planned 290 sqm of net comparison floorspace subject to requirement.

The 5 Year Housing Land Supply Issue

With the 5 Year Housing Land Supply standing at 2.18 years (TBC) which is possibly the lowest ever - this will be a key factor in WDC Officer's advice regarding planning applications and a key consideration for WDC PLanning Committees North and South. 


The lack of 5YHLS is therefore hugely important - because Wealden District Council declared their failure to assemble a 5YHLS back in 2016 as being the major reason for their approving the 'feeding frenzy' of planning applications in the Heathfield High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. 


See Downloads below to read: Local Plan Extract for Heathfield  which includes the Development Boundary Map, the latest SHELAA Map and the associated commentary document.


NEW!  Wealden District Council Infrastructure Plan (extract for Heathfield)  August 2018, and  Wealden Local Plan Consultation  Representation Form.

WDC Local Plan Impacts to Heathfield

Overview

These responses are made on behalf of the StopVinesCorner Group which includes ‘Green Open Spaces for Heathfield’ - supported by over 200 people from Heathfield and surrounding areas.     

WDC’s willingness to allow development of AONB green field sites has promoted a rash of developer-led developments which have already done immense damage to several areas in Heathfield most of which were green fields in the AONB. The Eastern approach on the A265Heathfield, Dadds Hill, The Beehive and the Police Station sites being notable examples of developments which are unsympathetic to the vernacular, intensively occupying sites so that dwellings are crammed together and placed very close to roads with no screening or buffering, including many multi-storey buildings typically with 3 storeys being  which are over-bearing and dominate nearby properties.  

Key Points of our Response

i) There has been no public consultation on this plan with Heathfield & Waldron Parish Council or with local Communities regarding the sites in Heathfield designated for Housing Allocations and the Sustainability Assessments..

Residents of Heathfield and Waldron Parishes are being disenfranchised by Wealden District Council - because there  is no Neighbourhood Plan and no other ‘valid route’ by which Heathfield Communities can have formal discussion or influence on WDC about the numbers and types of housing  being imposed.  

a. Action required: WDC should conduct a formal Consultation period involving the Communities. WDC should  require all towns and villages in the District to have a Neighbourhood Plan and should provide financial assistance to enable this where required.

ii) The housing numbers are too high given that over 50% of Wealden District land is protected landscapes.   

a. Action Required: WDC  should reduce  the housing numbers for the towns and villages to work with the amount of land available for building in the unprotected areas.

iii) WDC have continually failed to assemble the 5 Year Housing Land Supply required to support the numbers of homes required in this plan. The WDC 'climate' favours landowners and developers. WDC's approval of development/s inside the AONB is highly damaging and causing continual erosion of The High Weald AONB.  


Key Points cont'd

 a. Action Required: WDC Planning and Policies departments should make this plan realistic and achievable  given the amount of non-protected land available - it should incorporate resident’s wants and needs and fully meets WDC’s obligation to give the AONB the highest status of landscape protection. 

iv) Statements in this plan and in the SHELAA List of Unsuitable Sites (for development) indicate WDC’s commitment to giving the High Weald AONB the highest status of landscape protection per obligations in the NPPF paras  42 footnote 9, paras 115 & 116. 

But there are conflicting statements in the SHELAA explanatory document (which assesses each site of offered land against the Strategic Appraisal Objectives) which effectively encourage proposals to be put forward by developers and are suggestive that ‘issues’ preventing development may be overcome. 

Action Required: WDC should not waste time and money on producing ‘analysis’ or ‘assessments’ which can be interpreted to undermine the status of the AONB and conflict with WDC’s obligation to provide the highest status of landscape protection for the AONB. 

v) This plan misrepresents that Heathfield is well served by infrastructure and local services – when they cannot support the numbers of dwellings that Wealden District Council is forcing onto our Communities. The Police Station is unmanned and is listed in the SHELAA for re-development, the Fire Station serves a far greater area than just Heathfield – it covers Horam where there has been a great increase in housing numbers and other outlying areas, the Ambulance Station is a parking facility and is listed in the SHELAA for redevelopment, the Doctors Surgeries are full with no plans for any further facility, the Waste Water Treatment Plant at Horam is ‘full’ with the ‘upgrade’ now delayed to 2023. 

a. Action Required: WDC should correct this plan to reflect the facts - and put realistic plans in place to provide the services claimed.


Key Points cont'd

vi) This plan misrepresents that Heathfield is ‘well served’ in availability of open space – when  the Wealden Green Infrastructure Study section 4.4.14 by Chris Blandford Associates points out that Communities in Heathfield do not have access to the larger open green spaces . A recent nomination for the large field 259/1210 at Vines Corner to be designated Local Green Space per the NPPF para 77 was turned away by Wealden District Council because it had not come via a Neighbourhood Plan. Heathfield not having a Neighbourhood Plan – the communities are being denied the opportunity protect a treasured local landscape and the possibility bringing back into public use.

vii) This plan makes many statements about the high value that WDC puts on Green Infrastructure – but there is strong evidence that the statements in the WDC Local Plan cannot be relied upon.  In fact - Heathfield is becoming ‘urbanised’ by concentrations of  housing developments which are approved and will line both sides of a stretch of the Eastern approach to the town –substantial tracts of green infrastructure and ‘green gaps’ are being lost.  Wealden District Council has shown itself unwilling to protect important trees and groups of trees even in areas such as the Cuckoo Trail which the plan highlights as an important Tourist draw. It refused a recent proposal  - which was supported by an independent assessment of the trees, shaws and hedgerows at Vines Corner by a Landscape Architect  - that TPOs should be put onto important groups of trees at the head of Marklye Lane and a length of the A265 Burwash Road . 

a. Action Required: WDC should encourage the granting of TPOs to protect individual and groups of trees and hedgerows. It is clear that trees and hedgerows make important contributions as visual amenties and wildlife habitat – and currently most of them lack protection thus leaving them open to being damaged or felled before any preventive actions could be taken.


See Downloads below to read: The list of Major Issues, the supporting information is in draft but is there for you to gain understanding of things that are likely to cause you concern. 


Heathfield Dev't Boundary

New Boundary Shown in Pink

 

The extracts from the plan below are still included - however there are worrying implications for Heathfield in the form of the many qualifying and mitigating statements scattered throughout the plan which do not rule out housing development outside the Development Boundary and inside the AONB surrounding Heathfield.

The (new) development boundary generally follows the line of existing development on the northern edge of the town.... Further outward encroachment of development into the wooded slope of the AONB would be inappropriate and visually intrusive.  

Closer to Vines Corner, the boundary excludes land below the ridge and either side of Marklye Lane which is exposed and highly sensitive in the AONB landscape.

To the east, the development boundary follows the built up edge to the town where it adjoins Heathfield Park. The Council considers that any development beyond Park Road would be detrimental to the character and setting of the Park and should be firmly resisted.

Heathfield Park is a registered Historic park and garden and a designated SSSI and Ancient Woodland. Any new development will need to consider its proximity to Heathfield Park, taking into account its designations, and its High Weald AONB location.

Vines Corner & Heathfield Park

The above extracts from the WDC Plan cannot be relied upon to protect either the Vines Corner fields or Heathfield Park from development applications.  

The respective owners can put in Planning Applications at any time.


Please see ACV Page for more information. 

See & Read For Yourself

See Downloads below to read: Local Plan Extract for Heathfield  which includes the Development Boundary Map, the latest SHELAA Map and the associated commentary document. 

Wealden District Local Plan

2018 WDC Local Plan Process

The WDC Submission Draft Local Plan was issued on 28th June 2018. There will be meeting on 6th July at which District Councillors can ask questions and learn more about the plan. 


The 2018  Wealden District Local Plan which includes the SHELAA Map and the Commentary will be submitted to the Wealden Full District Council on 18th July for their approval.


We are told that it is a consultation document and so Heathfield Residents will be able to comment on the plan- and that it is essential that we do so. 


 see Downloads at the end of these pages. 

The Timetable

 On 18th July the Submission Draft Local Plan will be ratified by the Full Wealden District Council Committee.  


The WDC  approved version is then provided to the Government  Inspector who will formally approve the plan after a 8 weeks public consultation process.


We have now been advised that the public consultation will be 8 weeks and will be from:

13th AUGUST to 8th OCTOBER 17:00


It is vital that everyone in Heathfield makes their response to the WDC  Local Plan. Here is a link to the Consultation portal where you will need to register in order to make your response. It looks a bit off-putting but the process is fairly typical with a form to fill in with personal details and then you are confirmed to be able to make comments etc.  

http://consult.wealden.gov.uk/portal/planning/wealden_local_plan/pswlp?pointId=4973313#document-4973313

Major Issues

We have made a list of what we think are the major issues for Heathfield and we suggest that these may help you put together your own views and comments.


Please see Downloads below to read our findings and concerns... and the points of greatest concern in the WDC Local Plan...