Local plan will halt predatory building

MANY residents of Rother will be aware that the district council is seeking to update the Local Plan for new developments within the area which is due to last for 15 years. This will replace the one adopted in 2006.

The first stage has been to produce a policy document called the Core Strategy, which needs to be considered and approved by an inspector from the DoE.

A second document which will contain suggested site specific areas for development, both residential and commercial, is to be considered later in the next few months.

Battle Town Council (BTC) welcomes this Core Strategy produced by Rother District Council’s (RDC) planning officers and has been delighted that the district council has been willing to enter into specific meetings with the town council to ensure that the information within it for Battle is accurate at the time of publication.

Also of importance is a recognition of the town council’s desire to see a lower number of new dwellings being proposed locally than that originally suggested by Rother over the new plan period (suggested as valid up to 2026).

BTC wishes to see such new dwellings, other than currently approved sites eg, the Blackfriars scheme, being only of smaller numbers so that no major impact should occur with traffic generation and other issues which may affect the local infrastructure.

BTC has urged RDC to only consider any sites - other than smaller ones - as appropriate for construction once Blackfriars has been built so that a study of the impact of this large scheme can be made on local services. The town’s clerk has been instructed to write asking the Inspector consider this timing issue when looking at the proposals.

Your town council is pleased to see a recognition that all policies should fully respect the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that we enjoy and have this included in the Strategy. There is also an awareness of the need to provide a sensible number of affordable homes for our residents.

Importantly, a section has been included requiring those new homes to be of a similar design and to be indistinguishable from surrounding market properties.

This is so that they blend in and it is noted that there should be no more than a modest number in any one area.

To have this document and the site allocation one approved sometime in the New Year or 2013 at the worst should help protect the area from predatory developers who may seek to put up schemes in inappropriate areas and with incorrect volumes in the next Plan period.

There were several areas that BTC sought to have changed and, generally, we have been successful on behalf of our residents and businesses. I would like to thank my predecessor and the small working group who worked closely with Roger Comerford of RDC’s Planning Department to produced this document. I am delighted it truly reflects the wishes of Battle.

Cllr RICHARD J JESSOP

Chairman, Battle Town Council’s Planning Committee