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East Hoathly Village Concerns Blog

lots of acronyms – please see categories: Abbreviations


Community Habitat Mapping (Thanks to Nick Daines)

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

As Wealden do not appear to challenge developers when they assert that development will increase biodiversity by providing private gardens, something like this may be useful to better understand the biodiversity we currently have:


Wealden’s golden goose.

Monday, May 8th, 2017

Countryside is our biggest asset

Latest on the WDC Local Plan (27th April 2017 special thanks to Nick Daines)

Monday, May 1st, 2017
Responding to a question from SVC Group Secretary (www.stopvinescorner.co.uk): ……has the WDC Local Plan ‘progress’ gone a bit ‘quiet’?
Nick Daines replies:
You are right, publically at least, progress on the local plan has gone quiet. No evidence studies/documents are available even though the draft plan makes many references to them.

The draft plan was first available in the agenda papers published on 3 March for the Local Plan Subcommittee and Joint Planning Committee’s 13 March meetings. The proposal was for 14,102 houses to be built between 2013 – 2028. Wealden acknowledged that NOx damage to Ashdown Forest may be an issue and was modelling the effect from 11,456 houses as an alternative. The recommendation before both committees was that the portfolio holder recommends the draft plan to Full Council for consultation and submission.

On 13 March, Wealden told both committees that the 14,101 houses would cause unacceptable damage to the Forest and they would be proceeding with the 11,456 houses. This would mean changing policies in the draft plan and the housing allocations. However, the recommendation was unchanged and both committees duly accepted it!

The agenda papers for the 22 March Full Council meeting recommended that the draft plan be approved for publication for consultation and submission to the Secretary of State.  However, at the meeting Wealden accepted that the evidence base was not complete (notably the Sustainability Appraisal, which is a statutory requirement) and that further work was needed on the draft plan. The recommendation was changed to noting progress on the plan and requesting that the plan be brought back to council at the earliest opportunity. The council accepted this revised recommendation.

Clearly, Wealden is in considerable disarray – on 3 March expecting councillors to prove a plan for 14,101 houses, but by 22 March accepting that some very fundamental areas of the 3 March plan would have to change.

It is now apparent that any further development in Wealden will cause damage to Ashdown Forest and that no further development can proceed until the compensatory measures have been agreed and delivered.

Wealden is confidant that the 5YLS is now not an issue – they accept that they do not have a 5YLS, but due to the Ashdown Forest issue, have evidence (unpublished) that any development will cause damage so is therefore unsustainable. I wonder how long developers will accept this position before one submits an application and then tests the rejection though an appeal?

The next draft of the plan will have to contain a mitigation strategy approved by Natural England for Ashdown Forest. I anticipate that Wealden will be discussing with landowners whether they would be willing to make their land available to provide mitigation. This may take some time as the landowners will want a fee for loss of use which will have to be paid by developers. Thus, the next draft may take some time to surface. Alternatively, if Natural England cave in and decide that the NOx damage can be accepted, then the next draft could follow shortly thereafter…..


Councillors lament lack of localism in planning system (thank you David Connoley)

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017


Councillors have lamented the lack of local democracy in house planning, with a majority warning that the system leans too far in the favour of housing developers at the cost of local communities, a survey has revealed.

A survey of over 1,200 ward councillors in England carried out by the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU), and commissioned by the conservation charity the National Trust, has revealed that councillors believe the current planning system does not consider the wishes of councils and communities as much as it should.

Councillors have warned against the current system with over half of those surveyed advising that planning departments are not adequately resourced and that sites are being improved for new housing despite not being in line with the local plan, including sites on green belt land.

“The planning system is one of the fundamental pillars of local democracy, allowing communities to help shape the physical structure of the places they live,” said Jonathan Carr-West, chief executive of the LGiU.

“Councillors are the most important link between communities and that system. Our survey with the National Trust shows that many councillors feel that this democratic tool is at risk of being undermined.”

The survey revealed ongoing councillor reservations about the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), with only 18% of councillors feeling that design has improved since it was introduced. The NPPF was criticised by the CLG Select Committee as long ago as 2014 for failing to protect against unsustainable development and was earmarked for a comprehensive overview in April last year.

Particularly, councillors have raised concerns about the loosening of the planning system permitted by the NPPF such as the introduction of permitted development rights for home extensions, office to residential use conversions and other changes of use. Approximately 60% of councillors believe that due to the framework, green belt land is at risk of being allocated for housing by their councils within the next five years.

The results of the survey come as the government prepares to announce its housing white paper in response to the growing problems in ensuring a sufficient number of homes nationwide, particularly affordable homes.

Ingrid Samuel, historic environment director at the National Trust, declared it “worrying” that councillors feel that the NPPF hasn’t delivered the localism that was promised despite almost five years having passed since its introduction.

“If ministers are serious about local plans being at the heart of the planning system, then they should invest in council planning teams and use the Housing White Paper to give them the tools to deliver good quality housing in the right places,” Samuel said.

The LGiU and the National Trust expressed hopes that the government will use the paper to improve council confidence in the planning system, instead of setting rigid housing numbers which do not consider local factors such as areas of outstanding national beauty.

Their suggestions for steps the government could take included more resources for local planning authorities, stronger government backing for councils setting design standards, and an increased ability for councils to recognise local constraints and focus development appropriately.

Changes to New Homes Bonus (special thanks to Nick Daines)

Friday, December 16th, 2016

15122016 Changes to New Homes Bonus

SWOT Assessment of Wealden 5YLS

Monday, September 12th, 2016

SWOT Assessment of Wealden 5YLS

09092016 Communication from SWOT

Saturday, September 10th, 2016

Sept 2016 Communication from SWOT

Nus Ghani, MP wants more housing

Friday, August 26th, 2016

Nus Ghani, MP says:
‘Wealden needs more people/houses because employers tell her they have a shortage of labour….’

From SWOT:

On the East Sussex in Figures website, I found the following information for Wealden for 2015/16:

Economically active 72,200 people
Unemployed (included within the economically active numbers) 2,700 people
Economically inactive but want a job 5,800 people

Thus, to my way of thinking, there are 8,500 people in Wealden who are either unemployed or don’t have a job but would like one.

This 8,500 people is 23 times greater than the 365 unemployed that Nus infers are available to meet those employers who claim that there is a need for more workers.

It is clear that using the unemployment claimant figure of 365 dramatically underestimates the number of people who are not in employment but are available for work. However, I would accept that a proportion of the 8,500 may be either unsuitable or unavailable for work (e.g. full time family carer or long term sickness).

I consider that the ESiF data does not indicate that there is a serious labour shortage in Wealden.


A better interpretation of Hopkins by the minister – Wealden beware!

Friday, August 26th, 2016

This decision by Sajid Javid has thankfully blown a large hole in Wealden‘s application of the Hopkins judgement..

This part of Buckinghamshire had a persistent undersupply of housing, but despite this, Javid overturned the inspector’s decision to approve a 1,500 house application, throwing it out on the basis that the development would result in a fundamental change to the character of the landscape and would threaten the identity of the village of Bierton.

Javid gave the lack of housing very considerable weight, but still decided that this would not outweigh the harm caused. He affirmed that policies in the development plan should be given some weight even though both sides agreed that there was only a three year land supply.

I feel a further note to Wealden councillors is due in light of this decision.

Elsewhere (and I can’t now find where), Javid has indicated that he considers that an allocation of sites in a local plan effectively amounts to a mandate for development. This means that once  the new local plan has been adopted that any allocated sites within it are effectively lost. With Wealden now jumping next to the publication of the submission copy of the plan, our only formal chance of influence on any sites is by means of a comment on the submission plan and at the adoption hearing. So much for local democracy.

What is WDC up to?

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

From SWOT:


Briefly, the Council has decided:

  1. Not to review the Core Strategy (CS) as required by the examining inspector, but to compile an entirely new local plan despite the CS only being adopted in 2013.
  1. To entirely withdraw the Strategic Sites Local Plan in May 2015, rather than include an amendment to one strategic site in Hailsham as requested by the inspector.
  1. Not to produce the Delivery and Sites Allocation Local Plan, a fundamental part of the local plan .
  1. To backdate the start of the new local plan to 2013, despite there being in place a current, adopted, NPPF compliant Core Strategy.
  1. To accept a Strategic Housing Market Assessment containing major errors that result in the inflated OAHN of 735 houses/year.
  1. To produce a five year land supply (5YLS) paper that grossly underestimates the actual land supply position

The result of these actions is to create practically a perfect storm resulting in the almost total inability of the Council to refuse most housing planning applications. This results in a totally unsatisfactory developer led situation.

The Council has recently published its 5 year land supply as at 31 March 2016. This document contains errors in both the numbers and the analysis. When corrected, the document would demonstrate that the Council does have a 5YLS. Thus, you should be able to use the current Core Strategy when you are considering applications, rather than follow the incorrect officer advice that the relevant housing policies are out of date. With one or two exceptions, most rural authorities work very hard and take, where necessary, a very imaginative approach to be able to demonstrate a successful 5YLS. However, not Wealden, who appear to gone out of their way to show that they don’t have a 5YLS.

The current completely developer led situation that several of you complained about at PCS on 21 July is likely to continue for several years. The advice you received that it would be ameliorated once the new local plan is adopted is not correct. There will only be an improvement if the Council is prepared to re-examine the incorrect SHMA and take a more balanced approach to calculating the 5YLS. Neither the Leader, CEO, Portfolio Holder for Planning & Development or any planning officer appear to be willing to make any changes. Therefore, if you are concerned about the amount of green fields lost to development with all the resulting related issues, please hold your Council to account.

I have recently been made aware that a critique of the SHMA was submitted to the Council in December by a group of concerned residents. I attach a copy of this critique and although it is quite long and detailed, would urge you to read it. The content remains highly relevant.

Do you have any doubts on the Council’s 5YLS position or the housing numbers proposed in the SHMA? If so, please will you challenge the Council now, before too much cost is expended on preparing a new local plan and too many more applications “have to be approved due to a lack of a 5YLS”. The Council appears not to want to engage with members of the public when they raise their concerns, so I implore you to fulfill your function and actively challenge on behalf of the District’s very concerned residents.

I acknowledge that unfortunately, some of you are happy with the status-quo, but I hope that the majority of you are not and do not wish to see Wealden’s green spaces needlessly urbanised. Please take some action, as further inaction will result in continued despoilation of our rural surroundings.