Category Archives: Cycling

National Park – permission likely for heavy lorries to use the C7 road between Lewes and Newhaven

Articulated lorry commencing it’s journey on the C7 near the Swan Pub in Lewes

This page has been updated on 11/05/20 at 13:00

There is a planning application currently being considered by the South Downs National Park which will could add 84 heavy lorry (HGV type) journeys along this road EVERY DAY.  If you are concerned please read on and write in as soon as possible. It is URGENT as we are fairly certain this matter will be decided this month., – in May 2020.

If this application goes through it will be a disaster for the C7!!

To view the application and comment online at a link direct to the case click HERE ,  to comment online or  email planning@southdowns.gov.uk directly, and the SDNPA promise to record the representation as normal, and distribute to their members and planning staff.  The SDNPA say ” This will ultimately help manage the flow of communications and give confidence that views will be viewable by SDNPA members in their consideration of this case and heard in a more timely manner”. Please put the case number at the top of your email

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Details: Case no SDNP/19/03768/FUL’  https://planningpublicaccess.southdowns.gov.uk/online-applications/

Here is a summary of the situation:

Proposed expansion at Iford Estate near Lewes in the South Downs National Park: major new ‘warehouse type’ development generating up to 84 heavy lorry journeys along the C7 each day! 

CLICK to enlarge: Sketch map of route and agro-industrial site

Last year the National Park received an application for a major development in the lower Ouse valley south of Lewes at Iford.  Residents in the Ouse valley, over the last 10 years, have had to contend with potentially illegal planning development, numerous planning issues and planning appeals. Now the valley faces one of the largest planning applications that one could conceive within the landscape of the South Downs National Park. There is a planning application for a major new ‘warehouse type’ development, generating up to 84 heavy lorry journeys per day along the C7.  The site is at Iford.

This application is almost certainly to be considered in May 12020 so please would you write in ASAP. This is even more important as there will be NO Planning Committee meeting since the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) have delegated all decisions to the Director of Planning. This presents a problem as the recommendation by the planning officers is likely to be in favour of the development.

If this development goes ahead it will have a dramatic effect, not only on the landscape in the valley (as seen from the South Downs Way and locally in the area near Rodmell)  but it will close off forever the possibility of the C7 becoming a safe and pleasant road for pedestrians, walkers, horse riders and cyclists to journey along or to cross. We all know the C7 is a ‘rat run’ for vehicles going to and fro to Newhaven and the coastal urban areas but at least it has a 7.5 ton weight restriction on it. If this application goes ahead it will blow out of the water the benefit of the weight restriction since most of the 84 lorries predicted to access the new development will involve, according to the ESCC Highway description,  “the use of larger vehicles for transportation.”  In other words, HGVs!

Sadly, there have been only 5 objections against this application including one from the South Downs Society. The application was received in August 2019 so it would have appeared on the planning lists towards the end of August. Perhaps this is why it wasn’t picked up by local parishes and residents.

This application raises many issues. Here are some of them:

  1. The SDNPA Whole Estate Plan Team have written in favour of the application which, sadly, indicates that the development is in line for approval.
  2. Sadly, ESCC Highways have raised no objection to the development focusing their attention on the benefits for a small section of a village road which goes past the farm owner”s house. This short road would be relieved of traffic because the new road feeds directly onto the C7. ESCC say the proposals involve the use of larger vehicles* for transportation –  84 daily trips! They acknowledge there will be approximately 11,270 vehicle movements from this complex annually.  This makes a mockery of the 7.5 ton weight restriction on the whole of the C7.  *HGV lorries??!
  3. ESCC say that cyclists should be encouraged to use Egrets Ways and they recommended that the section of Egrets way that currently passes through land in the applicant’s control be upgraded and surfaced. Nice point, but this doesn’t take account of walkers and cyclists coming on/off or crossing the C7 in the villages of Northease, Rodmell, Southease, Iford (north), Swanborough, Kingston, Cranedown and at the very dangerous bend near the Swan pub in Lewes. This last location is particularly important as the chicane near the Swan pub is used by children & mothers on their route to and from school (from Cranedown and Kingston).  All of this is quite apart from the fact that at various places along the C7 and at the Swan pub,  walkers, hikers and cyclists cross to gain access to the South Downs Way.
  4. With or without the completion of the Egrets Way,  the ‘HGV type’ of traffic, whether it’s travelling north towards the Swan pub in Lewes or south to Newhaven will significantly add to the safety hazards along the road. There are 14 crossing points on the C7 which are used by bus users, walkers , residents , cyclists and occasionally by horse riders. See the list below. Surely the planning authority should heed the Government’s encouragement for people to get out walking and to cycle. If this application goes ahead it would seem that that this advice is being ignored. Roads are for everyone’s use and not just for heavy goods vehicles and other vehicular traffic.
  5. Despite the word ‘consolidate’ being in the application title, the SDNPA do not intend to require the removal of the any existing farm buildings – thus leaving open the possibility of change of use to industrial/commercial use. This trend, to rent buildings for such uses, has been ‘common practice’ in Iford & Swanborough with or without planning permission. Such development will not only change villages but also bring even more traffic onto the C7.
  6. Then there is the question – are such large buildings needed for a ‘farm’ of 1,416 hectares**?”. Especially when they are in addition to the many existing buildings in Swanborough & Iford. This new development will add 4,533 sq metres of industrial style warehouses to the 2,184 sq metres on new building given permission in 2012.  It is estimated the total area of the 2012 permission together and this application comes to about 40,000 sq metres of buildings and concrete hardstanding. That’s about five and a half football pitches in size!
  7. It seems inconceivable that a farm of this size would need an “agro-industrial centre” covering approximately 200 x 200 metres (40,000 square metres – nearly 10 acres!) as well as numerous existing buildings in Iford and Swanborough. It should be noted that not all the land is farmed as there are large areas of the Downs in the ownership of the farm which are Open Access Land and not farmed.   The farm owns land at Iford and Swanborough and some land south of the Old Lewes Racecourse.   It begs the questions:

(a)  Why would such a farm generate 84 vehicle movements per day? (ESCC figures).

(b)  What is being brought in and what is being taken out?

(c)  Where are these vehicles going?

** The total acreage of the Iford Farm Estate. It is 1,416 hectares (3500 acres). Information submitted by the farm as part of an appeal heard on 10th March 2020.  ref.APP/Y9507/C/18/3209964 concerning shooting on the Downs. The appeal was lost.

C7 Crossing places:

  1. Pedestrians and children crossings at the Swan pub in Lewes
  2. Pedestrians and children at the very narrow blind bend just before the Swan pub in Lewes
  3. Pedestrians and children crossing from Cranedown to the Stanley Turner cricket and rugby groundLewes and to the bus stop
  4. Walkers and hikers crossing at Spring Barn Farm
  5. Cyclists crossing at the Spring Barn Farm cycle crossing
  6. Residents crossing near the garden centre at the junction with Wellgreen Lane Kingston for the bus stop and garden centre
  7. Cyclists and walkers crossing to and fro from the holiday lodges
  8. Walkers crossing to the footpath at the bottom of Swanborough Drove to access the bus stop and public footpath
  9. Walkers and residents crossing at Northease for the bus stop and footpath
  10. Walkers crossing south of Northease to gain access to the public footpath
  11. Residents and walkers crossing in Rodmell at the Abergavenny Arms between the northern and southern parts of the village and to the bus stop
  12. Walkers, hikers and cyclists crossing the C7 at Southease (South Downs Way, national long distance route. Residents accessing the bus stop
  13. Walkers and cyclists crossing from the end of the Egrets Way at Deans Farm to gain access to the bridleway to the south
  14. Walkers crossing from the bridleway into Piddinghoe village and to access the bus stop