A High Court ruling on a Worthing site made recently sets a precedent to say "No" to the potential Eton New Town site in East Chiltington, a local councillor has said.
Worthing Borough Council has just won its High Court challenge against plans to build 475 houses in the Goring Gap. Mrs Justice Lang ruled that the inspector had not given enough weight to the impact such a large development would have on the setting of the South Downs National Park and the view within. She cited legal precedent that “great weight should be given to conserving and enhancing landscape and scenic beauty” and ruled that this had not happened in this case.
Lewes District Councillor Rob Banks (Lib Dem), who represents East Chiltington on Lewes District Council, said: "If the High Court was concerned enough about 475 houses and the impact it could have on the setting of the South Downs National Park and the view within then it sets a clear precedent that at least 3,250 right on the border of the National Park is utterly unacceptable. I and others have long argued that the impact on landscape is one of the key factors against the Eton New Town and this must be taken into account."
Residents in Plumpton Green are celebrating after elected members of the District Council's planning committee unanimously voted tonight to support the recommendations to refuse planning permission at Nolands Farm.
Speaking against, Lib Dem District Councillor Rob Banks said: "The site was explicitly rejected by the 2018 Plumpton Parish Neighbourhood Plan which was voted on by local people. This accepted some new housing development - indeed one site is being built out as we speak. But the cumulative impact of the 86 extra houses would negatively affect the character of the village"
"A previous application for 45 houses on this site was refused in 2019 because the development would represent “incursion of development and urbanisation of open countryside”. Nothing has changed and this reason for refusal still applies. It is regarded in Plumpton as breathtakingly arrogant that the developers wanted 86 houses."
“This also shows how unacceptable the neighbouring potential site owned by Eton college would be. If 86 houses right next door is deemed not appropriate then surely a potential site of 3,250 houses rights next door is very much the wrong thing in the wrong place.
He added: "I would like to thank the planning committee members for listening. The issue here is that local democracy must decide what housing goes where, not through central government housing targets forced onto Lewes District"
A controversial application for 86 houses on a greenfield site in Plumpton is set to be decided at Lewes District Council's planning committee on December 8th. Council officers are recommending the committee refuse the application.
Plumpton's Lib Dem District Councillor, Rob Banks, who has objected to the application, said: "The development would mean unacceptable impact and pressure on the open countryside and the intrinsic rural character of Plumpton Green and nearby area.
"A previous application for 45 houses was rightly rejected. The only reason the developers are trying to get away with 86 houses is a change in government rules which encourage these speculative bids"
"The pressure on the existing infrastructure - which cannot cope with the existing housing - includes sewers which frequently fail, a poor power supply and narrow rural roads. Indeed the rural road which serves the village would be urbanised.
"And you would see hundreds of extra car movements a day on local roads as the village has no essential services like a GP surgery - that's not good for the environment.
"This development is outside of the 2018 Neighbourhood Plan which was voted on by local people - and allowed some new housing in the village but this site was rejected. Democracy should be respected."
County Councillor Sarah Osborne, who also wrote to object, added: "The site was rejected for 45 houses in 2019, for very good reasons including impact on the countryside and landscape. So 86 would be really devastating. I also fear the damage to people’s well-being and mental health resulting from the loss of yet more green space."
In the officer recommendation to the planning committee, the report states: "It is considered that this extensive development to the east of the village, extending the built form of the village onto an area of undeveloped countryside would have a detrimental impact on the character and appearance of the wider landscape setting of this part of the village and wider countryside. Overall, it is considered that the proposed development would have an unacceptable impact on areas or assets of significant importance, in this case the character of and visual amenity associated with the wider countryside and result in significant harm".
The report recommending refusal can be seen here.
03 Dec 2021
National Highways has announced that they no longer intend to infill the bridge. This is a victory of local residents, but possibly only a temporary one. The bridge needs attention and there is no indication yet of what National Highways intends to do. See the New Civil Engineer website for more detail.
15th Nov 2021
When there was a railway running through Barcombe, there was a bridge. The railway is gone, but the bridge is still there. Where the rails used to run is now a vibrant wild space full of immensely diverse life, and much loved by walkers. It is in a conservation area. The bridge has seen better days; it now has a maximum weight capacity of 20 tonnes and is in need of repair work.
This is the responsibility of National Highways, who decided to support the bridge by infilling – in other words to pour an estimated 1800 tonnes of aggregate and concrete underneath it to shore it up, thereby destroying the valuable wildlife and recreation area running beneath it. Lewes Liberal Democrats support the campaign by local residents to prevent this and to secure an environmentally friendly solution.
On Oct 15th Liberal Democrat peer Jenny Randerson asked in the Lords about the fate of the bridge. The reply gave nothing away, but the fact of the question being asked means that National Highways know that their actions are being vigorously scrutinised, including the fact that a contract for the infilling has already been awarded. Baroness Randersen has made it clear that she will continue to pursue this case.
As well as Lewes District Council, residents have been strongly supported by national campaigning body The HRE Group, an alliance of walking, cycling and heritage campaigners, engineers and greenway developers who see the Historical Railways Estate as an asset for future good.
Thanks to the efforts of the community, work has now been paused to allow for reconsideration, but it is unclear what the intentions of National Highways are. More news will follow as we hear it.
More detail in this BBC report: Barcombe: Campaigners fight to save disused railway bridge
and a video with the current deputy leader of Lewes District Council, James MacCleary
This is one of a number of sites around the country where a similarly heavy handed approach has been taken.
Bridge: the HRE Group
Poster: Zel Ouse