Fears are growing that a Gleeson proposal for 75 homes at Wivelsfield Green could be the tip of the iceberg, with the community doubling in size by 2030.
The ‘Keep Wivelsfield Green Action Group’ (KWGAG) says residents are “outraged and shocked” after planners at Lewes District Council decided to recommend the scheme on land south of North Common Road, for approval.
If the green light is given, it will break with 42 years of sustained opposition. Since the 1970s, there have been five planning applications and three appeals relating to the greenfield site.
Gordon Harper, a spokesman for KWGAG, said: “We are outraged and shocked - all 162 objections by residents from across the village have been ignored. This is an horrendous proposal - a development of 75 dwellings is not sustainable in a village the size of Wivelsfield Green.”
Planning officers are recommending approval because the council cannot demonstrate a five year land supply until the district plan or ‘Core Strategy’ is finalised and then approved by an independent planning inspector.
Wivelsfield Parish Council is opposed to the scheme but its Neighbourhood Plan, setting out where housing should, ideally, go, is still being developed and district planning officers say “no weight can be attached to it” at this stage.
Twenty-five per cent of the Gleeson development would be “affordable” housing for local people, addressing what the developer calls “the considerable, unsatisfied need for new housing in the area”.
However, KWGAG fears that Gleeson’s scheme will open the floodgates to more speculative developments on greenfield land outside Wivelsfield’s built-up area.
The Core Strategy is the district council’s planning document until 2030 but its submission has been delayed until May 2014 because under The Localism Act, the district council has a duty to co-operate with neighbouring authorities when developing planning policy and these discussions take time.
Two weeks ago, an independent planning inspector told Mid Sussex District Council that it had not co-operated enough with its neighbours, effectively forcing the council to go back to the drawing board over its district plan.
Any delay opens the door to speculative development.
Lewes council’s latest ‘Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment’ shows potential development sites in the district and KWGAG is very concerned that five sites on the edge of Wivelsfield have been designated “achievable, available and suitable”.
KWGAG’s spokesman, Gordon Harper predicted: “This could now bring 600 houses into the sights of developers in a village which currently has less than 500 houses.”
The Gleeson application will be debated by Lewes District Council’s planning committee on January 8.