Report on Day 1:
Appeal into 103 new homes at Steel Cross in Crowborough began this morning with opening arguments. James Maurici QC, spoke for the developer Knight Developments Ltd and Scott Lyness representing Wealden District Council.
It is being held at Hendall Manor Barns in Heron’s Ghyll, and is open to the public.
Louise Saville, and possibly Cllr David Larkin, will speak for local residents later in the inquiry. A site visit will be arranged so the Planning Inspector David Nicholson can see the location of the proposed development. It was suggested this morning that he should see Green Lane during the morning or afternoon school run to get a proper impression of the traffic situation.
The main issues to be debated during the hearing will include:
- What might be the effect on the character and appearance of the countryside;
- Whether the need for more housing in Crowborough justifies building in the High Weald AONB;
- What are the implications from nitrogen deposition from extra car journeys and what might be the impact the rare heathland habitat of the Ashdown Forest; and
- Whether residents would use sustainable forms of travel such as walking and buses to get around.
Today the Planning Inspector heard evidence from Wealden’s air pollution expert Prof. Duncan Laxen.
The hearing is expected to last 10 days.
Sessions are generally from 10am – 1pm and 2pm – 5pm (earlier finish on Fridays). Version 3 of the Timetable (subject to change – see WDC website for latest):
An appeal into whether 100 new houses can be built at Steel Cross in Crowborough starts next week.
Knight Developments Limited based in Essex, want to build 103 houses including 42 affordable homes on land between Palesgate Lane and the Rugby Club.
Last year, Councillors on Wealden District Council’s planning committee refused the application primarily because the development falls on the edge of the High Weald, but also because of concerns about access to the site from Green Lane for cars.
The Campaign for Rural England, Natural England and the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Unit all object to the application on grounds the semi-rural environment of horse grazed fields and hedgerows would be urbanised.
The local residents of Steel Cross are strongly opposed to the development. There are many reasons why this proposal shouldn’t be passed, but the main one is the fact this it falls within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). This green country side must be preserved for future generations to enjoy. It is important that the Planning Inspector bears this in mind when making his decision, as there are plenty of other sites more suitable for a large scale development of this kind which doesn’t fall within AONB.
Steel Cross is outside Wealden District Council’s development boundary and lies within the 7km Ashdown Forest special protection area. Developers are proposing 25 acres of accessible open space, including landscaping, footpaths and a play area next to the housing deveopment. But Wealden District Council will argue the Suitable Accessible Natural Green Space (SANGS) is inadequate to reduce trips to the Forest.
When Crowborough Town Council discussed the proposal in December 2013, Town Councillors thought the site had significant benefits over areas designated in Wealden’s Local Plan, and included potential for an alternate road connecting the A26 to Jarvis Brook. However because of other overriding concerns, the Town Council still objected.
Since the original application, the proposal for a new roundabout has been dropped in favour of modified T-junction connecting with Palesgate Lane.
The appeal will be heard by David Nicholson, an Independant Planning Inspector for up to 11 days, starting on Tuesday 10th March. The inquiry will be held at Hendall Manor Barns in Heron’s Ghyll, and is open to the public.
If you would like to look at the detailed submissions to the Planning Inspectorate, you can look at the documents on Wealden District Council’s website (Ref: WD/2013/2410/MEA): www.planning.wealden.gov.uk/plandisp.aspx?recno=124251 (you will first need to accept the disclaimer).