A pair of controversial proposals for housing in Crowborough have been given the go ahead by Wealden District Council.
On Thursday (10th December) two applications seeking outline planning permission for major housing developments on land on either side of Walshes Road were approved by Planning Committee North.
The two applications – to build up to 150 homes on land near the Orchid Riding Centre and to build 130 houses at the Brookview site – had both come in for significant opposition from residents, largely due to fears around impact on the local highways network.
While considered separately, similar views were aired during discussion of both applications, including the fact that the wider area has had planning consent for 330 homes over several sites since 2015.
When put together, objectors said these developments would result in an unacceptable impact on the road network.
However, this view was disputed by East Sussex Highways which considered the impact could be made acceptable through off-site highways works and financial contributions towards local bus transport. Highways officers attended the meeting to explain how they had reached this view through modelling.
However, this explanation did not appear to convince all of the committee members, with several raising concerns around the accuracy of such modelling.
They included Cllr Gareth Owen-Williams (Lib Dem, Crowborough Jarvis Brook), who said:
The [highways] modelling is all theoretical. By the time we find out whether it works or not, these sites will have already been given permission and it will be too late.
To me, with houses … we’ve given permission for already not built yet, I think we should wait. If there are issues that are unexpected and different calculations, then we can address them and make a decision.
But to me there’s too much in the pipeline, too much being brought forward in one go and it is causing problems.
Cllr Gary Johnson (Con, Uckfield Ridgewood & Little Horsted) had also raised concerns around the modelling and asked other members whether they would consider deferring the scheme. He said:
I actually like the development. I am concerned, having listened to the discussion and the debate, that whichever way you look at it … I just don’t feel Western Road has been given enough consideration here.
In simple terms there are a big volume of cars parked there and I just don’t think there has been a solution considered for that. I understand that putting a roundabout at the end will help with the flow etc.
I think this development will go through at some point but I don’t feel confident at the moment that the highway infrastructure has been considered properly and that this should be passed today.
Similar views were raised by several other councillors during the discussion, leading to an intervention by the council’s lead planning officer Stacey Robbins. Mr Robbins said:
The point I would like to stress … is that you’ve got the senior officers, including the transport development control manager, from the county council who have been very intimately involved in the assessment of this case.
They have attended the committee and addressed members in more detail than I can recall ever occurring in regard to a planning committee meeting. To me that speaks volumes .
The highway authority has looked at this. They have taken their time and it hasn’t been rushed. They’ve asked for more information from the developers, they’ve scrutinised the details and you’ve heard them say on a couple of occasions now that they are content.
While some opposition remained among committee members, both applications were approved.