UPDATED: Divided council gives green light to 50 homes in Battle


Controversial plans for 50 homes in Battle were given outline approval by a split planning committee this morning (Thursday, June 30).

The committee at Rother District Council was divided 50/50 on the proposal to develop Lillybank Farm, which attracted more than 100 objections from residents.

Half of the members voted against the officer’s recommendation to grant permission, but chairman Brian Kentfield had the casting vote and rubber-stamped the approval.

Some committee members and Battle councillors argued the site’s locality within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) but outside the 2006 development boundary, plus the ‘dangerous’ access from London Road, was enough to reject it.

But officers said the district’s housing shortage had nullified the old development boundaries and the Highways Authority found no issues with the access.

The AONB was accepted as an issue but Cllr Kentfield said the field was particularly secluded which reduced the potential impact. In the officer’s eyes, Lillybank Farm provides an opportunity to tackle Battle’s, and the district’s, housing needs and wherever they go it will be in the AONB and outside the development boundary.

Battle councillor Kevin Dixon said residents are especially annoyed as this site was never earmarked for development and there are alternative sites such as Blackfriars which would be more suitable.

Cllr Sue Prochak said the development would inappropriately extend Battle’s northern border, threatening the gap with Mountfield. But her biggest concern was the added danger of more cars trying to turn on the already hazardous A2100. She said the AONB argument should be enough by itself to reject the proposal and would be supported by the inspectorate if an appeal was lodged.

“The reason we have a planning committee is to reflect people’s concerns and this is a case in point. We do know other sites will come forward in the neighbourhood plan and my judgement is that it’s the wrong location,” she said.

Cllr Prochak’s motion to reject was defeated as there were six votes for and six against, including Cllr Kentfield, who had the casting vote. He then proposed to accept it, which won by the same means.

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