Ancient woodland concerns outweighed by other factors


A couple who opposed a planning application to build a new detached home with garage in Haywards Heath on land to the rear of Birch Avenue fear a decision to grant permission last Thursday tells developers to ‘come and destroy ancient woodland in Mid Sussex’.

Charlotte and Peter Drake, of Birch Avenue said: “Developers in the South-East will be rubbing their hands with glee following a recent planning decision in Mid Sussex.”

Along with a number of other local residents they had raised concerns regarding the impact the new home would have on a patch of ancient woodland in the vicinity.

In a letter to the Middy they wrote: “Every house bounding this development (and many others besides) objected. Due to the impact on the Ancient Woodland, the Woodland Trust objected and the Sussex Wildlife Trust objected. None of us could see how a single unit development yielding profit only for the homeowner and small-scale developer could possibly pass the planning test for Ancient Woodland.”

Richard Silander, Birch Avenue, also put pen to paper following the decision and said: “For the first time in my life I attended a council planning meeting this week. It was not an edifying experience.”

He added: “The committee decided that it was OK for an applicant to destroy a piece of ancient woodland, that is woodland that has existed continuously since at least 1600, and then erect a house which is out of keeping with every other house in the vicinity.

“The woodland is gone forever. The house will stand for longer than I have left to live. The detriment to other residents’ lives will not be reversed.”

Mid Sussex cabinet member for planning Cllr Norman Webster explained the decision: “The Planning Committee addressed the concerns of local residents with regard to the nearby ancient woodland at the meeting but after careful consideration decided on balance that other factors supported approval of the scheme.

“The proposed new dwelling is within the built up area and is close to local shops, services and bus routes. The design of the house does not detract from the character or appearance of the area and care has been taken to protect the living conditions of neighbours.

“In granting permission the Committee were able to support a condition that secures an improved management plan for the ancient woodland.”

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