Update: Wealden’s Planning Committee has today (Thursday 23rd October) approved the application to build 160 homes on land at Walsh Manor Farm.
Following a meeting between Highways Officers, the developer Rydon Homes and their transport consultants last week, Wealden Councillors were informed that East Sussex County Council no longer objected to the proposed development, subject to additional conditions being imposed. ESCC Highways department had originally wanted the scheme rejected because of concerns about traffic on the approach roads.
An East Sussex County Council spokesman said:
We originally objected to this application as we felt the developer had not fully considered the proposed access arrangements and that the highways scheme put forward didn’t do enough to mitigate the likely impact on traffic in Western Road and nearby streets, where existing traffic problems would have been exacerbated.
Subsequently, the developer’s transport consultant worked very quickly to revise its highways scheme and to put in place measures which addressed all of our concerns.
We are satisfied that the revised scheme will minimise the impact on traffic and may even improve the current situation in terms of traffic flow, parking and road safety, therefore we withdrew our objection to the application.
There was widespread objection to the housing development from local people. Crowborough Town Council objected to the scheme, and around 100 people wrote to WDC to express their views.
If you want to share your views email Stephan@CrowboroughLife.com.
@CrowboroughLife so now do they plan to stop residents driving along western rd Crowborough? Or they going to ban parking? What solutions?
— Chris Grose (@ChrisGrose2) October 28, 2014
Rydon Homes have applied for planning permission to build 160 homes south of Walshes Road in Crowborough.
The house builder, based in Forest Row, want to mainly two to four bed houses on agricultural land at Walsh Manor Farm either side of the track Nightingales which leads to the Farm.
As well building the properties on the fields currently being used as horse paddocks, Rydon Homes have made a parallel application for outline permission to redevelop the dilapidated buildings currently being used as a private recycling facility to provide a new small-scale office facility.
They propose building:
- 2 x one bed apartments
- 31 x two bed houses
- 75 x three bed houses and
- 52 x four bed houses
The housing proposal includes 56 affordable homes, managed by an approved Housing Association, of which 80% will be for rental at below market value with the remaining 20% as shared ownership.
98 properties will be built in the field behind current homes on Alderbrook Close and Adam Close, a further 62 homes will be in the field East of Nightingales.
Jo Stonebrook is Secretary of the Alderbrook Community Association, although the Association have not had chance yet to meet to discuss their collective view, Jo has some reservations herself:
As with any new homes built in the East of Crowborough traffic will be a big issue – especially Western Road area.
Crowborough Town Council are looking to create a Neighbourhood Plan so residents can have their input.
Affordable homes are needed in the area but what is Affordable? Many young people and hard-working families will still find it difficult to afford the 80% of the market value rent because rent is generally so high in this area. For example £915 for a 3 bed property!
Ashdown Forest Protection Zone
In order to protect the Ashdown Forest, any development within 7km of the conservation area has to adhere to stringent planning rules. To divert people away from the conservation area, developers have to provide a SANGS, a Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space for residents to use.
Rydon propose to create a recreation space on land south of Adams Field, the play park at the end of Adam Close in Alderbook. The 70 acres of farm land and woods stretches down to Nightingale Cottage and towards Lotmans Farm, and is currently only accessible to the public using two footpaths. A number of additional paths will be constructed for local people to use for exercise and walking their dogs. There will also be a car park with 20 spaces for visitors from further afield.
The application submission is supported by an Environmental Impact Assessment, which considers the cumulative effects of this development
As part of the planning application, surveys of protected species have been conducted, including bats, birds, reptiles, badgers, dormice and great crested newts. Some active badger sets were found, and populations of hedgehogs and grass snakes. The surveys describe how disturbance to wildlife can be minimised during construction, and how the habitat can be improved for example by de-silting ponds, improving hedgerows and installing bat boxes and nesting boxes for dormice.
One of the major concerns expressed about the development by residents is the increase in cars using congested local roads.
Crowborough has been starved of development in recent years, however, I remain concerned that this development is being proposed in an area that already suffers from poor links to the rest of town. The infrastructure in the east of Crowborough is already under a great strain, with Whitehill Road and Western Road blocked up for much of the day. 160 news houses are not going to improve the situation.Furthermore, I am concerned that this is the start of development that will see the enclosing of an important corridor for wildlife in the town. Without adequate safeguards the Country Park may see itself cut off from the edge of town, limiting the wildlife that reaches this important public space.
A specialist transport consultant was employed to review the impact of the proposed development on the local road infrastructure. Rydon Homes’ proposal includes for improvements to Western Road to improve traffic flow and safety along this section.
To allow access the new housing development two new entrances for cars will be constructed off Walshes Road, on either side of Nightingales. One will be opposite Beechview Parade, where the bus stop is currently located. The other entrance would be East of Luxford Road.
In the report submitted by the WSP, the traffic consultants employed by Rydon, they estimate using 2011 Census Data on car ownership, that there is likely to be around 240 cars in total associated with this housing development.
They think about two thirds of the additional traffic to and from the site will travel West along Fermor Road, rather than go towards Jarvis Brook via Western Road. At present they say 79% of people in Crowborough East travel to work by car. They also point out that the 226 and 229 bus services run along Walshes Road. To encourage people to walk, cycle or use public transport they have submitted a travel plan as part of the planning application. Rydon intend to provide home buyers with a welcome pack, including cycle maps, bus timetables, bus vouchers and money off coupons for cycle equipment.
Councillor Beverley Johnstone, represents the neighbouring ward of Jarvis Brook on Crowborough Town Council. She has concerns about the implications for traffic on Western Road and would prefer a contingency site identified on land between Goldsmiths and Luxford Farm on the A26 was developed:
All councillors representing Crowborough, at County, District and Town level, are united in our preference for the Contingency Site off the A26, rather than the Walshes Road site, because of the excellent transport links at that site, and the ease of access to the town centre. We have seen nothing that suggests that Rydon are able in any way to improve traffic flows along Western Road, despite their repeated claims. We are not opposed to further housing development, and indeed would welcome developments in appropriate sites – which does not include the current proposal
Wealden District Council (WDC) have identified three main sites for development in their Local Plan, these include Pine Grove, at the old council depot off Forest Dene in Jarvis Brook and this site off Walshes Road.
This site at Walsh Manor Farm is within ‘SDA10’ in Wealden’s Strategic Sites Local Plan:
At a recent planning inquiry into the WDC’s Strategic Sites Plan the Planning Inspector made it clear that his recommendation would decide if housing at Walsh Manor Farm was appropriate. Town Councillor Peter Cowie says as the Inspectors report won’t be published until around September, he considers Rydon’s applications premature.
Councillor David Larkin is one of two Wealden District Councillors for Crowborough East, and looks after planning issues within the Ward:
The application for housing is pretty much what we expected and of course the site is included in the Core Strategy and has been examined as part of the Strategic Sites Local Plan examination although the the Inspector’s report is awaited. Although I have not yet discussed this present application with the community; they, through the Alderbrook Community Association have not in the past opposed housing development on this site despite the increased traffic and parking problems that will be caused by development, in the Western Road area in particular.It is however regrettable that Rydon homes seem to have made no provision to accommodate the Church and communities’ long-standing desire to build a new Church for St. Richard’s combined with a local community centre on the edge of the housing site. Both the Church and community and indeed I have had discussions with Rydon about this but it seems these approaches have been ignored. There is nothing for the local community in this application.
It is also not clear from the application whether Rydon will be providing SANGS on this site to support development on the rest of Crowborough, as was expected and promised, rather than just for the houses built on this site.The offices application is of course completely unexpected and is contrary to CS & Habitats Regs. policies as this development is likely to generate additional traffic and therefore nitrogen emissions over and above the ‘ceiling’ set to protect the Ashdown Forest.
Have Your Say
If you want to comment on the application for 160 properties you have until 5th September. Note the closing date for responses on outline planning permission for the office accommodation is earlier:
- 160 dwellings and SANGS (Ref: WD/2014/1565/MEA)
- Outline planning for office accommodation (Ref: WD/2014/1564/O)
The Rydon planning applications will be discussed by Crowborough Councillors at the next meeting of their Planning & Development Committee on Monday 11th August at 7.30pm.
Decision on whether or not to grant planning will be made by planning authority Wealden District Council.