Crowborough ‘could’ grow by 20% depending on the need to protect the Forest

Next month Wealden District Council will ask you for your views on a new Local Plan which will determine future growth in the district until 2037.

The document setting-out the options will go to a Council meeting next Friday for final approval before being published.   The new Local Plan proposes that 12,750 houses should be allowed in the district, in addition to 7,200 dwellings that have already been approved or allocated.

Crowborough could either get 140 houses or 1900 more, depending on whether research shows the Ashdown Forest needs protecting from growth or not.

There will be a public exhibition at the Crowborough Community Centre on Thursday 22nd October from 1.30pm until 6.30pm, and members of the public will have until 30th November to comment on the recommendations.

Current AllocationFeature-A26-Poundgate-Crowb

In the current Local Plan, growth in Crowborough was restricted to just 300 homes because of the town’s proximity to the Ashdown Forest and concern extra vehicle movements would damage the rare healthland habitiat.

The development off Walshes Road would account for more than half of the town’s allocation.  The majority of the 140 remaining balance was to be built at Pine Grove and the old Council depot accessed off Forest Dene.  However recently, on appeal, a Planning Inspector gave the go-ahead for 103 houses at Steel Cross.  The Council are currently making a legal challenge in the High Court to overturn this decision.  If Wealden District Council is unsuccessful, Steel Cross will go along way towards metings Crowborough’s outstanding housing allocation.

The New Plan

The new Local Plan continues to stress the need to protect the Ashdown Forest due to the presence of breeding nightjars and Dartford warblers.  The document repeatedly states that at the present time development in the north of the district will be resisted.

The Council has started an air quality monitoring programme to determine the actual levels of pollution. This study will take a least one more year before the impact from nitrogen in vehicle exhausts crossing the Forest will be known.  In the unlikely event research shows the Ashdown Forest does not need protection, the arguments to prevent growth will no longer exist.  In which case new houses in the north of the district will not be supressed and 1900 houses could be built in Crowborough and more houses in the surrounding parishes, as the following maps summerises:

Map-Option-2Land for Housing

Periodically Councils invite landowners to put forward sites for consideration for housing and other uses.  The Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) identifies land and assesses the availability, suitability and deliverability of that land as a potential housing site.  The last report was published in March 2015 (although a more recent Call for Sites was undertaken between December 2014 and May 2015).  Appendices 6-8 deal with Crowborough.

Other Issues

Primary Shopping Area:  The new Local Plan also says there is some scope for remodelling of Crowborough town centre.  The document describes how The Cross acts as a barrier to shoppers and defines the High Street and part of Croft Road, including Morrisons and Waitrose, as the primary shopping areas with the greatest footfall.

Conservation Areas:  It is also being proposed that the size of the current Conservation Area in Crowborough Town Centre should shrink dramatically by removing three areas (see map below).  In a Conservation Area business owners or residents have to get planning permission from the Council before they can make certain alterations.  The new Local Plan argues modern development has encroached on the conservation area and many of the architectural details on buidlings have been eroded.

A request for a new Conservation Area in Chapel Green is not being recommended by Wealden District Council.  It thinks changes during the late 19th century
and early 20th century substantially reduced the historic and architectural merit of the area.

Conservation-AreaHave Your Say:  If you have any comments to make you can add them below or join the conversation on Facebook.

Click on the following link to see the full report going to the Local Development Framework Sub-Committee on 25th September which will consider the draft consultation document.

You can watch a webcast of the meeting here.

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