New build in Battle narrowly given thumbs up

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A new build home on the outskirts of Battle has been narrowly approved despite concerns about its impact on the AONB.

Today (Thursday April 18) Rother District Council’s planning committee granted planning permission for a two-storey home and detached double garage on land adjoining Marley Lane.

The application had been recommended for refusal by officers due to concerns about its sustainability and potential impact on the High Weald AONB, but was narrowly approved by the committee despite these concerns.

Before making its decision, the committee heard arguments in favour of the proposals from Kevin Dixon (Lib Dem), who represents the Battle ward.

Cllr Dixon said: “I think this is a suitable development within what is already there.

“If it was adding on to the ribbon of development then I would definitely not [support it], but as you saw it is within the existing development on a vacant plot.”

He added that officers concerns about a lack of public transport links leaving residents reliant on car travel was ‘unavoidable’ in rural areas.

This argument was also raised by committee member Gary Curtis (Con. – Crowhurst), who said: “I understand that the man issue with this is the sustainability, which I am struggling with a little bit.

“The bus service to the area is very limited, if it exists at all at particular times. I don’t believe anyone in Marley Lane actually uses the bus to go anywhere.

“To put the emphasis on the bus is, I think, unreasonable.”

The committee also heard the proposals had significant support from Battle Town Council, a number of local residents and other district councillors.

They included ward councillors Kathryn Field (Lib Dem) as well as Sally-Ann Hart, who is a member of the council’s Conservative cabinet.

While there was some support among committee members, several raised concerns about going against of the council’s planning policies. 

Concerns were also raised about what effect approving the application could have on further development in the district.

Mary Barnes (Con. – Ticehurst and Etchingham) said: “We are constrained because we do not have a policy which allows us to allow this.

“If you allow this there are various precedents you will be overriding, some of which have come up quite recently in appeals that have been rejected.

“There is no clear case why we should be giving this permission and it is clear to me that we would be in some trouble if we did.”

In light of this Cllr Barnes put forward a motion to refuse planning permission.

However, the motion was narrowly defeated by five votes to six, with the application then granted planning permission by the same margin.