East Sussex town planners approve Hellingly houses
The next phase of a large housing development for Hellingly has been approved by Wealden planners.
On Thursday (January 26) the Wealden Borough Council’s South Planning Committee approved a motion for reservations on plans to build 351 homes on land west of Park Farm, off the New Road.
The project was approved in 2021 as part of a plan approval, so that the principle of the development of the area has already been established. However, the program remained controversial among residents, leading to a significant number of objections.
Many of the objections centered on flooding issues, both on the site itself and in Hellingly as a whole, partly due to problems with the area’s sewage system.
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These concerns were echoed by Councilor David White (Ind) who said: “I’m sure members will be aware of the utter failure of the polluted sewers in the area.
“The main sewer and pumping station at Station Road, to which this development is to be connected, failed in early November, resulting in properties being inundated with raw sewage.”
He added: “There are currently 581 properties connected to the failing sewer. There is now approval for a further 620 new homes, which Southern Water says can be connected to the sewer.
“It’s hard to believe that a system that can’t handle 581 homes can handle more than 1,200, but so far Southern Water has not come up with any suggestions for improvements to the system.”
Cllr White also urged the committee to defer its decision until Southern Water could provide details on the plan’s impact on its system.
This argument was clearly supported by several committee members, with some raising concerns about the public health impact of further failures.
However, officials reiterated their warnings that without an objection from Southern Water, which is required to connect new homes to its system, such concerns about the wastewater infrastructure would not provide legal grounds for rejecting the program.
Stacey Robins, head of planning and environmental services for the council, said: “You as a planning committee do not have the power to reject planning applications because you do not trust Southern Water.
“I know this is deeply unpopular and I’m quoted on social media I’m sure I’ll betray you on this matter but I’m afraid we have to deal with this matter and with local residents and our community Proposing and councilors that we can exercise control that does not exist is a dereliction of duty.”
The committee continued to discuss other flooding issues, particularly surface water flooding caused by heavy rain. During that discussion, officials said there was evidence that the development would actually alleviate these problems due to its drainage work.
After further debate, the motion was approved, but only after the chairman had a casting vote.
Cllr Johanna Howell (Con) suggested the permit, saying: “We’re between the devil and the deep blue sea, to be fair. We do not trust Southern Water. We have very good reasons not to trust Southern Water, but this planning committee cannot do that.”
She added: “No, children shouldn’t be able to wade through the sewers. That’s awful. [But] it is not a planning consideration. It’s not something we can do.
“If we go to an inspector – and we have to talk about that in this committee – those reasons will not apply. We all feel passionate about it, absolutely given. But they don’t stand up to our planning assignment. We’ve been told that over and over again.”
The motion was the second tentative proposal for the site. The first was rejected under delegated powers last year because officials had concerns about the layout, architecture and landscaping, and the surface water drainage plan. Those issues have been addressed, officials said.
The proposed lot will consist of 62 apartments, 63 two-bedroom houses, 132 three-bedroom houses and 94 four-bedroom houses. Of these, 130 units (including 61 apartments) are classified as affordable housing.
While this program will not reach the 370 homes approved during the design phase, it is believed that final development could reach that number if homebuild and custom build homes are submitted in separate applications.
For more information on the proposals see application reference WD/2022/2135/MRM on the Wealden District Council website.
https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/23283692.east-sussex-council-planners-approve-hellingly-homes/?ref=rss East Sussex town planners approve Hellingly houses