The Lewes District Council planning meeting of 11th December was held in Peacehaven to discuss the application for housing at Lower Hoddern Farm.
With a spectacular turnout of over 250 people, the hall was packed at the Peacehaven Town Council offices, much to the surprise of the District Councillors.
Security and the police were both in attendance, to hear this contentious application which has throughout, ignored the wishes of the residents of the town.
Peacehaven Town Council objected to this application in April this year, on grounds of insufficient infrastructure – the road at risk of collapse, the schools oversubscribed and the doctor surgeries not able to take on any more patients.
Over 1200 written objections were received by Lewes District Council, including those of all of the Doctors based in the town.
Residents and the town Council are still opposed to the Barratt Homes Housing development there, PRIOR to considerable improvements within the town and this was backed up by District Councillors who voted 2 for and 4 against and one Councillor Abstained when the application went to a vote. They went on to decide that this should come back to the table for further discussion, once more information had been received from the County Council.
The A259 is packed each day, with bumper to bumper with traffic morning and evening. The County Council were not proposing any improvements. The Air quality is poor and data collection which is out of date, was not factored into the plans. The developers simply proposed more bus services, seeming to think that new residents to their estate would prefer to cycle, take public transport, or even car share.
Peacehaven Town Council Planning Committee Chair, Councillor Melvyn Simmons, stated that he felt it was “an ill-conceived and premature housing application and he was very pleased that the District Council took on board the comments made by the residents of the town.” He felt that “the application in 3 phases concerned all of us, as it could mean sale of the site part way through the build.” He also felt that the District Councillors had not been given sufficient information on which to base their decision. He was made aware that they had all received letters from the developer Barratts, stating that considerable money would be available by way of CIL payments, which was simply “putting a positive spin on things.”
The Council has already urged the District Council that they ensure that all works listed are carried out PRIOR to the development works taking place and with the information available, this proved not possible.
The Council spokesperson has informed that “It is too early for the developers to build on this site. The plans are ill thought out. No Protocol Meeting has been held with Case Officers, so we are pleased the District Council heard what we had to say and we are glad our hard work in fighting this has not gone to waste.”
Cllr Melvyn Simmons said “We would like to thank Lewes District Council for listening to our concerns and giving us the opportunity to source some solutions with them for this site. The requirements for any development to go ahead here, will have to include support for our primary care services, our schools and our commuters. Peacehaven shouldn’t be the town that people simply drive through any more. We want to encourage people to visit and enjoy their time here, not just to sit in traffic. We shall continue to lobby Highways England to encourage them to spend some money in the town, to improve the roads.”
Councillor Elayne Merry spoke on behalf of Peacehaven North, giving her personal feelings as a resident and voicing the opinions of the residents of the town. She said “The County council has blatantly ignored Peacehaven, you just don’t understand.”
Councillor Nigel Enever spoke as a District and a County Councillor, as well as a resident of Peacehaven. He was also concerned about inadequate infrastructure and opposed the development based on grounds of A259 congestion. He said “in the last ten years there have been nearly 700 units constructed and proposed in Peacehaven, not taking into account the developments in Newhaven” and went on to say “83% of journeys on the A259 are in and out of the town, 64% being for essential journeys to work. It is interesting to hear that the East Sussex County Council are continuing with their traffic flow data collection, although there is no up to date information on traffic queues.” “Approval of this application would be premature” He was supported by a full hall of applause.
Councillor Dave Neave, the only Peacehaven Councillor on the Lewes District Planning Committee was unable to attend, due to a long standing family engagement, although a prepared statement was read out by the District solicitor. He was concerned that the application was flawed in respect of lack of detail regarding the social housing element, little detail on air pollution nor how the car share scheme would actually work. He recommended that the application was deferred on the grounds of insufficient information provided by the developer, in terms of transport, habitat, housing tenure, and heads of terms Section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levy payments.