From: Peter Miles, Chairman, Darwell Area Conservation Society
There are many of us in parish councils or local conservation groups who fight for our own patch of the High Weald AONB but often feel that we do not get the support we should from the authorities.
The district councillors who spoke at Rother’s most recent Planning Committee meeting are therefore to be congratulated on their strong and principled stand against the most recent housing application in Burwash.
The councillors refused to accept the chairman’s direction — beyond his powers — that sustainability issues and adverse impact on the AONB did not amount to material objections against the plans.
Although, unfortunately, they were pressurised into accepting that Highways issues were not grounds for objection, they rightly scorned the direction from Rother’s officers that there were no planning grounds for refusal (that’s what the Committee is there for).
And they stood firm when told that, in planning terms, development boundaries and the AONB “were not sacrosanct”.
All local planning decisions, by definition, must take account of local needs not district targets. And all planning decisions taken in an AONB should stand one simple test. Since the 1949 Act, AONBs and National Parks should have exactly the same level of planning protection. The first test therefore should be: Would this application have stood a chance in the Lake District, Snowdonia, Dartmoor, the Peak District, etc? The answer is a resounding no.
Well done the councillors.