New build house on outskirts of Battle is refused
Proposals for a ‘highly-sustainable’ new build on the outskirts of Battle have been refused by Rother planners.
On Thursday (December 16), Rother District Council’s planning committee turned down an application to build a three-bedroom home on a greenfield site in Marley Lane, close by to a Grade II listed property known as Great Battle Barn.
The scheme sits outside of Battle’s development boundary, within an area of protected green space set out within the Battle Neighbourhood Plan and within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
As a result, it was recommended for refusal and likely would have been rejected by officers under delegated powers (as a similar scheme for the same site previously was), had it not been called in at the request of ward councillor Kevin Dixon (Lib Dem).
Cllr Dixon said his reason for doing so was to concerns that planning applications had been decided inconsistently in the area and he wanted the committee to have a strong grasp of the principles at play.
He said: “The reason for the call in is because of the decisions which have been made in and around Marley Lane.
“This is a part of Marley Lane which is detached from the rest of Battle and [many] applications have been happening for quite some time. Some development has been allowed and some hasn’t been allowed.
“I think it is important to hear this today to actually work out how much development we want in this area and what the future for Marley Lane actually is.”
A similar argument was made by neighbouring ward councillor Kathryn Field (Lib Dem), who said: “This is a part of Battle where there really is a developing hamlet and there are a lot of houses of varying shapes and styles.
“This is only, as we have seen, between two and one half storeys. It is not a large house. Nevertheless it is in a settlement at a distance from the town centre and its facilities.
“As Cllr Dixon said, we need the committee to get to grips with this and to decide how development is going to work out down that part of town.”
Committee members had some sympathy with this argument, but concluded that such decisions should be made as part of a bigger picture not on an individual application.
Applicants meanwhile had argued that the new build would form part of an existing ribbon development and that other nearby approvals should give weight in favour of the proposal.
They also argued the development would have a low impact design and fit in well with the surrounding countryside, as well as being ‘highly-sustainable’, with solar panels on its roof.
Some committee members praised these environmental elements of the proposal.
Many more, however, had concerns about going against planning policies, particularly those within Battle’s recently adopted neighbourhood plan.
Committee chairman Jonathan Vine-Hall said: “The Battle Neighbourhood Plan is a made plan and they have a green space which has been included, examined and agreed.
“We have to ask ourselves as a committee, ‘do we what to send an exocet missile through a neighbourhood plan just after it’s been made?’
“That is a really serious issue and I think if you were in the neighbourhood plan group you would be pretty upset about that. I do appreciate the problems that creates, but you don’t dedicate a green area then build something on it.”
Following further debate the committee voted to refuse the proposals in line with officer recommendations.
For further details of the proposals see application reference RR/2021/2447/P on the Rother District Council website.