Category Archives: Planning issues

Public consultation ends Thurs 14th May 10am – major agro-industrial site near Lewes

Just over a week ago we posted information about a major new development in the Ouse valley south of Lewes headed:  National Park – permission likely for heavy lorries to use the C7 road between Lewes and Newhaven . It is good to know that so many people wrote in about their concerns on heavy traffic, the impact on the landscape in the National Park and on the commercialisation/industrialisation of redundant farm buildings as well as other topics.

Local people are up against it, as the planning officers have recommended approval. Perhaps they don’t understand the area as they are based in Midhurst – some 45 miles away!

Public consultation on this proposal ends tomorrow Thurs at 10am . You can  send in a final 500 word comment  by emailing –  public.speaking@southdowns.gov.uk no later than 10am on 14 May 2020. More information on this closing stage is on the South downs National Park web site: click HERE

The existing development given permission in 2012 (2,184 sq metres ) with the older buildings in the background. If the new permission goes through another 4,533 sq metres will be added to the site.

 

 

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

PLEASE SHARE this update!

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

 

 

 

Developers still promoting rejected site for 10,000 homes near Henfield

Mayfield Market Towns Ltd are still promoting their plans to  build  possibly 10,000 homes in the Sussex countryside near Henfield and a few miles away from the South Downs National Park. This proposal was rejected by the inspector when the Horsham District Council Local Plan was reviewed but the company are still pushing ahead.

The company are now inviting comments which is a positive move but is their plan sound? Why not let them know what you think?  If you want to contact them and let them know your opinion about this development email: feedback@mayfieldtowns.co.uk

Click Here to read the company’s letter of 24th July 2019

Continue reading Developers still promoting rejected site for 10,000 homes near Henfield

Lewes Council and National Park Local Plans in focus!

Both the South Downs National Park Local Plan and the Lewes District Council Local Plan Part 2 are in focus as 2018 closes: 

Lewes District Council area with boundary of SDNP show in red. CLICK TO ENLARGE

The District Council have just approved their controversial in parts,  Local Plan Part 2. Now it will be sent to the Secretary of State for examination. A planning Examiner will be appointed, who will hold public hearings later on in 2019. Residents will have an opportunity to submit evidence if they are opposed to the plan, either wholly or in part, and there will be an opportunity for the public to attend the Examiner’s public hearings.

The National Park are one stage ahead of the Lewes District Council as their plan is already being examined by the government, and there are currently public hearings taking place where those who wish to give evidence against the plan policies, either in part or wholly, will be able to submit their views. I asked the Government’s Examiner to ensure that there would be public hearings local to the Lewes area and not 45 miles away in Midhurst! He agreed with me. This local hearing  will take place between the 11th and 12th of December. Click here for more information.

Here are my comments on the district council’s local plan, part two, and some further information on the National Park plan:

Continue reading Lewes Council and National Park Local Plans in focus!

The Future of Lewes Town to 2030?

Have your say on the future of local planning in Lewes.   The Lewes Neighbourhood Plan is out for public consultation!   You can attend one of the public sessions and view the draft plan at the Lewes Town Hall on 25th May from 1.00pm until 10.00pm and on the 26th May from 9.30am until 1.00pm. There is also a slideshow presentation at 7.30pm on Thursday 25th May.

For more details go to: http://www.lewes4all.uk/ here you will also find a link to a questionnaire which you can answer whether or not you attend the public consultation sessions.

The deadline for responses is 5pm on Wednesday 21st June 2017

The calling of the general election has rather overshadowed this important local event which will affect Lewes and the nearby surrounding area. The Lewes Neighbourhood Plan, when approved, will become a legal planning document setting out the principles of how planning applications will be treated over the next 15 years or so; at least until 2030.  It will sit alongside the Lewes District Plan, which has already been approved by the Secretary of State, and the South Downs National Park Plan which is due to come out for consultation in September 2017.

Kingston School expansion get the go-ahead!

As many may already know, the planning application for improvements and expansion of Iford & Kingston School got the go-ahead at the May meeting of the East Sussex County Council Planning Committee. Whilst I’m sure we all support better facilities for the children at the school, I was saddened by the County Council’s decision not to include any significant funds for highway and footpath improvements to try and alleviate the traffic problems caused by parents from outside the village having to drop off and collect their children. The County Council’s policy of expanding the school will add even more rush-hour traffic problems to Kingston. (click below to read more)

Continue reading Kingston School expansion get the go-ahead!

National Park Local Plan update

SDNP PlanYou may be wondering what has happened to the development of the South Downs National Park Local Plan. It is the most important planning document locally in Sussex within the park boundary.

The initial plan consultation started in Feb 2014, over 2 years ago. Last year there was a further public consultation. Since the end of Oct 2015 we haven’t had much news but now things are moving on.   This report provides an update on the development of the plan together with some other information. Here is a summary of my report:

The importance of the ‘Sanford principle’ in protecting national parks, key statutory duties of national parks and the importance of planning enforcement.

I hope this information will help those wishing to protect the national park in dealing with planning applications and potential planning infringements. If national parks are important to you please read on……..

Continue reading National Park Local Plan update

Shooting on the South Downs

What’s going on in your area behind the scenes!  Closing date for comments is Wednesday 24th Feb.

On the South Downs above the Ouse valley between Rodmell and Kingston and in Iford there have been many planning issues associated with game shooting and game bird breeding. The situation culminated recently with planning inspectors at two different ‘planning hearings’ giving permission for:

  1. An old farm building on the Downs to be used as a game shooting lodge and
  2. An area of a farm at Iford village being used for the intensive breeding of game birds.

shootBut the story is not yet over! Just recently the landowner associated with the shooting business has applied for a ‘lawful development certificate’ relating to a large area of the South Downs. See the map below. Effectively they are trying to establish that shooting has been going on in the area for over 10 years. In other words from approximately 2005 onwards.

The applicant has provided what they believe is sufficient evidence to prove that the Council must issue a lawful development certificate. Members of the public could support or oppose the application but not in the normal way. Anyone wishing to comment on the application would have to do so by providing a statement giving what they believe is their evidence of whether or not there has been shooting activity in the defined area. This application will not be dealt with like a normal planning application and it will not be sufficient to just simply say you are opposed or support the shooting activity for this or that reason. It will not be considered by a committee. The planning and legal officers of the Lewes District Council acting on behalf of the National Park will make the decision themselves. Members of the District Council can submit their own statement but they will not participate in the decision-making process.

If you would like to find out more about the application please follow the link below and enter the application number in the search box.

Application for a Lawful Development Certificate – shooting area on the South Downs

Visit: http://planningpublicaccess.southdowns.gov.uk/online-applications/

Then, enter in the search box: SDNP/15/06385/LDE   –   You will then be taken to the actual application page.  NB: Here is some advice from the Planning Department on how to support or oppose the awarding of the certificate:

Any representations should be e-mailed to planning.south@lewes.gov.uk, or to Rachel.richardson@lewes.gov.uk.

As discussed, any representations should concentrate on whether shooting has taken place on the land for 10 years before 11/12/15 (the date of the application), rather than objecting on grounds relating to the alleged impact of the use.

The area defined on the application is within the parish of Iford and borders Rodmell and Rottingdean parishes as well as Woodingdean & Saltdean (part of the city of Brighton and Hove). It encompasses the Kingston Escarpment & Iford Hill SSSI. It stretches from the C7 road to the borders of Rottingdean and encompasses a number of areas of Public Open Access land as well is public bridleways and the South Downs Way.

So far the council have notified: Kingston, Iford, Rodmell, Southease & Piddinghoe parish councils

Map – click for a larger image or see it on the planning web site:

Map Shooting

Spring Barn Park Farm Centre – Appeal Allowed

Spring Barn Locations

 

 

 

Dear Residents,

Sadly, I have to report that the appeal has been granted regarding the development at Spring Barn Farm (click here to see my report of June 2015). Most of the objections regarding the planning application were relating to the very large barn to be built out in the valley. All of the objections have been largely ignored by the inspector. Click here to Extracts from the inspector’s decision on Spring Barn Farm. You can see the full copy of the inspector’s report and decision by clicking the appeal reference as below:

Appeal Ref: APP/Y9507/W/15/3024061   [Location: Spring Barn Farm Park, Kingston Road, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 3ND. Decision by: David Cliff BA Hons, MSc (Urban Planning) MRTPI dated: 17 December 2015. Site visit made on 27 October 2015]

I had concerns about the original application and I have concerns about how the inspector came to his conclusions and allowed the appeal. This application was originally made in 2012 and most people thought that the application had been abandoned or withdrawn. It was quietly resurrected in 2014 and the application then proceeded. I went across to Midhurst and addressed the National Park    Planning Committee meeting on 9 April 2015 and despite the officer report being in favour of allowing the application the members duly noted the objections made by nearby residents in Kingston and also my objections and refused the application. However it was an uphill struggle because prior to the meeting I had asked the officers of the National Park to delay the application and properly consult the parish of Kingston. Unfortunately they refused to do this saying that legally they only had to consult Lewes Town Council as Spring Barn Farm buildings were within the town boundary. I pleaded and said although this might be the case, based upon the Doomsday book parish boundaries drawn up 1000 years ago, the site of Spring Barn Farm clearly affects Kingston residents and the Cockshut valley leading up to Kingston. I got no joy.

The site before the 2 agricultural barns were built . Now there will also be a very large building added to the valley.
The site before the 2 agricultural barns were built . Now there will also be a very large building added to the valley.

An appeal was made against the decision and the Planning Inspectorate decided on a written appeal which was held in July of this year. After many months of delay by the Planning Inspector, during which time significant headway was made in local planning policy in the National Park and Lewes District plans reaffirming the importance of sustainability, landscape, noise and visual aspects of new development, the inspector made his decision largely putting aside these factors. It’s interesting to note that the inspector puts at the head of his document his qualification which includes an MSc in ‘urban planning.’ It is somewhat ironic to appoint a person specialising in urban planning to deal with a National Park  landscape matter! Despite the fact that the inspector had all summer to go and see the site when it was at its busiest he didn’t actually visit until 27 October 2015. Obviously at that time of year it would be quiet.

The inspector, whilst recognising in one paragraph that the building is large and substantial he negates any concern by saying it will be screened by existing buildings! He also does not accept that this very large building would be in an isolated position. His main reason for this is that an existing agricultural barn can provide the necessary screening. What he doesn’t say is that the planning authority had no control over the building of the agricultural barn as it is outside planning control. The logic which this inspector applies to things seems to be that one more unsightly building won’t matter because it’s next to an existing one.

Sadly the inspector has ignored completely the concerns of residents about the noise that a much larger retail building will have on adding to the noise levels in this once quiet valley. He ignores the concerns that this new building could be used at night adding to the existing noise in the summertime from the campers on the nearby site. He does not set down any controls over the use of the building at night time and makes no suggestion about the current confused planning status of the car parking in the various areas around the site. He makes no comment about the importance of sustainability which is a cornerstone of the Government’s National Policy Planning Framework. Apart from a small concession where he mentions provision for cycles, it seems that he is quite happy that the much increased intensive use of this site will be fed by people visiting the site by car.

There are some surprises in the planning inspector’s report. He takes very little cognisance of the, almost completed, Lewes Local Plan (Joint Core Strategy). He also makes no reference to the published draft National Park Local Plan despite an appeal to ask him to take it into consideration.

I am in support of outdoor activities for children of all ages and when Spring Barn Farm started I thought that the idea was great. However over the last 10 or 12 years the associated building development has encroached into the rural landscape and urbanised the area. This further development will significantly add to that urbanisation. The decision goes against the grain of the main purposes of the National Park.

Sadly, the Lewes Town Council supported this application. None of the three district councillors representing the ward (Priory) of Lewes covering the area objected nor did any of the town councillors object to the development. Also the Case Officer who made recommendation to approve the original application had very little knowledge of the local area and chose to ignore the objections raised by the Friends of Lewes and South Downs Society and did not think it was important that the people of Kingston be consulted.

Lessons learnt?

Local people must be ever vigilant and must campaign for greater transparency and wider consultation on planning applications irrespective of which parish they actually fall in. It is clear that local people must work very hard to put forward their views and provide detailed, well researched information and evidence. If that is not done the final decision lies with an inspector who has no knowledge of the local area and so the future landscape will be defined without proper consideration. It seems the inspector will only look at the evidence before him so if you don’t provide it he or she won’t take it into consideration. It’s very important to catch things early and try to make sure the officers in the planning department are fully aware of both concerns and material evidence if you are opposing the development. Once reports are written they are treated almost as evidence.

For my part I will do all I can to make sure we get the best possible planning decisions for our area.

Regards

District Councillor Vic Ient

PS These words echo my concerns about ill thought out planning & building design:

“Is then no nook of English ground secure from rash assault?” – William Wordsworth

 

East Sussex and Brighton & Hove Waste & Minerals Sites Plan

The ESCC Waste and Minerals sites plan consultations are now under way. The consultation period is from 4th until 27th November 2015. To see the plan and comment – click on this link:  ESCC Waste Plan

Here is a high level view of the main sites: – please go to the link above to see details. Sadly the image published by the ESCC was not very good. The document references will help locate sites and details.

ESCC Waste Sites