Icklesham affordable housing scheme given thumbs up

Artist's impression of the new homes
Artist's impression of the new homes

Plans to build affordable housing in Icklesham have been given the go ahead by Rother planners.

On Thursday (May 30), Rother District Council’s planning committee unanimously approved an application to build 15 affordable homes at the edge of the village, on a site off Main Road.

Brought forward by the Icklesham Parish Community Land Trust, the development aims to provide good quality homes for people with connections to the village who are unable to find affordable housing.

While the aims of the scheme were strongly supported by the committee, several councillors asked if more could be done to improve road safety around the site after hearing concerns raised by objectors.

Deirdre Earl Williams (Ind, Bexhill Collington) said: “It would appear the real issue here is safety.

“I don’t know if it is possible for us to put some more conditions on this or whether we need to go back to highways for further investigation.

“Maybe we could defer this for that purpose?”

Other councillors, meanwhile, suggested speed cameras or traffic calming measures could be introduced in an effort to improve road safety.

Despite these concerns – and those raised by lead petitioner David Hill – planning officers said no objections had been put forward by either East Sussex Highways or Highways England when they were first consulted on the proposals.

Officers said this view from the highways advisors was based on a 40mph speed limit being extended further down the road as part of the planning conditions.

Mary Barnes (Con, Hurst Green and Ticehurst) said: “I think there is some danger here of throwing out what looks like a very promising scheme by devoting too much time to what we perceive to be the problem.

“We have had plenty of opportunities to hear that the road can be made safe.

“I think our concern today should be to address the fact we have the opportunity to offer accommodation in the most wonderful way, so we can actually have people from Icklesham and the area offered homes.

“To me, that is the most important thing.”

Susan Prochak (Lib Dem, Salehurst) added her support to this argument, saying she felt Community Land Trust (CLT) development would offering housing which ‘stays affordable’.

She added that parish councils have been successful in addressing road safety concerns in other areas – suggesting Icklesham Parish Council use its connections with the CLT to look at additional traffic calming measures.

The view was shared by Paul Courtel (Lab, Bexhill Central) who moved a motion to approve of the scheme.

He said: “I would like to strongly support what Cllr Barnes and Cllr Prochak have been saying about the benefits to the local community.

“According to the latest survey there are 32 households in Icklesham Parish who need decent housing, which they cannot afford. This caters for 15 of them.

“It is fantastic news the CLT is able to retain land in perpetuity and on that basis I am minded to support the proposals.”