Building 26 more mobile homes at Deanland Wood is a kick in the teeth for local residents and flies in the face of sensible planning advice.
That’s the message from the Liberal Democrats’ prospective candidates to be MP for Lewes and Wealden, who have each written to Wealden District Council calling on the controversial decision by one of Wealden’s planning committees to be referred to the Secretary of State for review.
Last month the council’s planning committee ‘South’ went against the recommendations of planning officers and gave the green light to the community of mobile homes owned by the Whitehead family. But unusually, the council is offering the chance for a further round of comments until 21 October, and the two Lib Dem campaigners seized on the chance to call for the decision to be reviewed.
Chris Bowers, who stood for the Lib Dems in Wealden at the 2010 general election, said: “This is a crazy decision, and a kick in the teeth for local residents. Planning officers are under so much pressure to find land for housing, so when they strongly recommend against expanding this site, you can be sure there are strong reasons for rejecting this proposal.
“I wonder what former Tory councillor Keith Whitehead thinks of this. He was Wealden’s head of sustainable development 10 years ago, yet there’s absolutely nothing sustainable about an application that will bring even more cars down a narrow country lane to a maverick development in the middle of nowhere.”
Kelly-Marie Blundell, who is the Lib Dems’ Parliamentary candidate in Lewes, added: “While elected representatives can and do choose to decline planning officers' advice, they should have good reason to do so.
“When planning officers say a proposed development is against the district’s policy and recommend it be refused, there has to be a very good reason to go against it, and from the statements given by Conservative Councillors, it's not clear there is. That is why I have written to the Head of Planning asking to refer the case to the Secretary of State for review.”
The two Lib Dem candidates are also critical of Wealden District Council’s efforts to publicise the additional consultation period. A very small notice was printed in the Sussex Express on 30 September, giving people just three weeks to comment, and the notice didn’t appear on the council’s website until over a week later.
The site near Golden Cross is in an area of Wealden district that falls just inside the Lewes parliamentary constituency. If the Boundary Commission’s proposals for a revised parliamentary map go ahead, Deanland will fall right in the middle of the proposed new Lewes & Uckfield constituency.
Comments on the application are being taken until 21st October 2016 and residents can comment online here.