A former mill in Robertsbridge is set for a new lease of life as Rother planners have given their approval to a major housing development.
At a meeting on Thursday (October 11), Rother District Council’s planning committee gave the go ahead to two applications connected to the Hodson’s Mill site in Northbridge Street.
Between them, the two applications had been seeking permission to restore a Grade-II listed oast house and to build up to 96 new homes on the site – some of which are to be provided by converting the now vacant Victorian mill building.
Opening the discussions, ward councillor Susan Prochak (Lib Dem. – Salehurst) urged her fellow committee members to support the scheme, as it had been identified as the favourite site during the Robertsbridge and Salehurst neighbourhood plan process.
She said: “I can’t tell you how much work went into the neighbourhood plan, in terms of consultations, talking to people and different organisations in order to get it into a made plan.
“The most popular site was this brownfield site, and people just can’t understand why it hasn’t been developed so far.
“With this we, the parish council, will have delivered 72 per cent of our housing allocation within three months of the plan being made.
“Can I just draw your attention to the letter you have received from the agent, which I think sums it up quite nicely. It says ‘the allocation reflects the clear preference of the community’.
“Rother will never have a site this big, with this many many houses on, with only three objections. Ever.”
The plans were also supported by Maurice Watson (Con. – Bexhill Sidley).
He said: “It is really fantastic that this site has now actually come up and that we actually see a plan for it. I’ve been hearing about [this site] since I became a councillor in 2011.
“It is a most welcome and an absolutely fantastic design.”
Cllr Watson added that he appreciated work needed to be done to address concerns around roads flooding and emergency access raised by Highways England and the Environment Agency.
Following a short discussion the committee unanimously approved both recommendations, subject to further information in response to the concerns raised by Highways England.
Highways England require the developer to carry out a new road safety audit before signing off on the plans, which a report by a Rother planning officer says is currently underway.
The report says: “There are outstanding highway concerns with the development. The first is Highways England’s requirement for a Stage 1 Road Safety Audit in respect of the emergency access.
“The applicant has indicated that this work is being put in place, however, it is not expected that the additional work would be completed in time for the committee meeting.”