Burwash villagers’ anger at housing plans

Objectors by the development site SUS-180808-110931001
Objectors by the development site SUS-180808-110931001

Villagers in Burwash have accused developers of breaking promises to provide affordable homes as part of a housing scheme.

The Park Lane Group has been given permission to build the new homes on the old Watercress field near Strand Meadow.

Residents in Burwash said the developers were supposed to include 12 affordable homes as part of the scheme, which was given planning permission by Rother District Council last year.

But they said none will now be included.

The Park Lane Group obtained permission to expand the project from 17 to 30 homes.

Residents claim The Park Lane Group has said the project will only be ‘viable’ if the firm can drop all of the affordable housing.

Burwash: Save our Fields from Concrete believes the development will damage the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and compromise local infrastructure, saying extra cars from the site will make Strand Meadow, Shrub Lane, the junction with the A265 and the narrow ends of the High Street even more dangerous.

Residents have asked for the developers’ viability assessment report which is understood to have been sent to the council.

Objectors said plans to build at this site have long caused concerns because of the proposed access through Strand Meadow, which is frequently congested with cars having to park on the pavements and larger vehicles struggling to make their way through bottlenecks.

Nick Moore, spokesman for the Burwash Neighbourhood Plan group, said: “It’s clear from the findings of the detailed housing survey we carried out for our emerging plan that local need around Burwash is for small, affordable units and social housing, not expensive executive homes.

“We are very concerned this kind of development will price both older and younger residents out of the area.”

Robert Banks, of Burwash: Save our Fields from Concrete, said: “The developers must have known about the steeply sloping nature of the field with its springs, streams and geological movement before they submitted their plans.

“To try to back out of their commitment to build affordable homes is an abuse of the planning system.”

Laurence Hulkes, on behalf of The Park Lane Group, said: “The site at Strand Meadow already has outline planning permission for 30 dwellings which the council’s planning committee approved in July 2017.

“At that time the council considered and approved the access to the site, this included detailed proposals for improvements to the adopted highway in Strand Meadow, the details of which have been included in full in the current application.

“The site itself is challenging due in part to its sloping nature and site investigation works carried out more recently have identified that the proposed dwellings will require piled foundations which will result in significant costs affecting the viability of the proposed scheme.

“In accordance with the national planning policy, the current planning application includes a viability report to demonstrate that the site would not be viable should the scheme include affordable housing in accordance with Rother District Council’s planning policy.

“The viability report will be the subject of an independent assessment by a specialist consultant appointed by Rother District Council who will advise the council on whether the site is capable of providing any affordable housing.

“The Park Lane Group takes great care and pride in the design of the homes it builds and Strand Meadow is no different.

“The design of the split level houses and flats reflect the sloping nature of the site and while the front of the houses are three-storey, this design would be similar to the existing properties in Strand Meadow as you approach the site, and in responding to the rising ground levels they are two-storey at the rear.

“The proposed flats are also three-storey at the front but with rooms in the roof and to the rear they are two-storey plus the room in the roof.

“The elevational treatments have been carefully considered to provide variety and attractive homes. These are illustrated in colour within the planning statement that was submitted with the application which is available to view on the council’s website.

“There are a number of benefits to the village that the planning application includes.

“There will be a substantial payment to be made in terms of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) which is calculated on the floor area of the dwellings.

“The CIL payment will be in excess of £780,000, of which over £117,000 (15%) will be made available to Burwash Parish Council for them to spend on projects within the village.

“CIL is not levied on affordable housing, therefore if the site were to include affordable housing units the CIL payment would reduce by circa £300,000 in total and by £45,000 in terms of the element that will be made available to the parish council.

“The proposal includes an area of the site in excess of 1,200sqm that will be offered to the parish council for possible use as allotments.

“At present the parish council only has two allotments in the whole of the village and through its website it is actively asking landowners if they have suitable land that could be used for allotments.

“Improvements will be made to the adopted highway in Strand Meadow and will be secured by a legal agreement between The Park Lane Group and East Sussex County Council.

“Dialogue has already been opened with East Sussex County Council to start the process which will include a Road Safety Audit to establish the extent of the improvements to made in Strand Meadow required.

“In accordance with planning policy the scheme also includes the provision of a footpath through the site linking Strand Meadow to Burwash Playing Fields which will give residents in Strand Meadow and beyond a more direct route not only to the playing fields but also to the centre of the village itself.”

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