PLANNING APPLICATION WD/2022/3319/MAO
EXTENSION OF ASHDOWN BUSINESS PARK INTO LAND TO THE WEST, PROVIDING FOR UP TO 60,000M2 OF GROSS INTERNAL FLOOR AREA FOR CLASS E(g) MIXED USE CLASSES PLUS B2 AND B8 WITH ANCILLARY STORAGE AND OFFICE USE
Please urgently consider this large-scale planning application due to be considered by Wealden District Council. This application has had very limited prior consultation with the community and, if successful, would result in the loss of 77 acres of precious Agricultural Land in the Low Weald Landscape on Batts Bridge Road (A272) and of the strategic gap/buffer between Maresfield/Uckfield and the Parish of Fletching.
Instead there will 650,000 sq ft of development in a new Business Park, generating thousands of traffic movements each day and requiring additional housing. There are better sites that can meet actual market demand. Such large development on this sensitive site next to Ancient Woodlands and important water courses would harm ecology locally and the Ashdown Forest.
The Applicant submitted the application just before Christmas and deliberately did not undertake public consultations before submission, contrary to national and Wealden policy. The application documentation is inadequate with critical and legally required information missing.
Further details and a plan can be found on Wealden District Council planning portal at:
IF YOU SEEK TO OBJECT THEN:
1. This should be submitted to Wealden by 17th February
2. Please make your objection individually to Wealden District Council, referencing the planning application no: WD/2022/3319/MAO, and the application summary ‘ EXTENSION OF ASHDOWN BUSINESS PARK INTO LAND TO THE WEST, PROVIDING FOR UP TO 60,000M2 OF GROSS INTERNAL FLOOR AREA FOR CLASS E(g) MIXED USE CLASSES PLUS B2 AND B8 WITH ANCILLARY STORAGE AND OFFICE USE’
3. This can be done through the website at https://planning.wealden.gov.uk/plancomment.aspx?recno=160467
4. Or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org quoting the application reference number WD/2022/3319/MAO in the subject heading.
Objectors should try to list specific reasons in their planning objection to substantiate their views. To assist you, a selection of specific reasons where the proposal fails to meet Wealden policy and which justify refusal of planning permission are listed below:
- a) The Applicant AM Workspace Ltd has failed to undertake the required pre-application public consultation with residents and parishes surrounding this Maresfield site including Uckfield and Isfield, denying the public due opportunity to consider and to comment on the proposal.
- b) Uckfield does not have an acute shortage of employment land with over of 12,650 square metres of net employment floorspace already available at Ridgewood Farm, Uckfield. In addition, Wealden DC identified 3 other smaller sites in 2019 for employment land. Land at Oakwood Park (Polo Ground) on the A22 was already identified in 2019 as potentially suitable for employment use. The area of Oakwood Park is bigger than that of the existing Ashdown Business Park. The Business Park still has vacant land, some of which is being developed for retail use. Furthermore Oakwood Park is brownfield (which Government policy prefers for development) whereas the application site is pure arable greenfield agricultural land. Oakwood Park would be far better served by local infrastructure / the A22 Uckfield bypass, than the Batts Bridge Road site on the A272.
- c) A Locate East Sussex Land Supply study (May 2020) has indicated only 10 acres of prime employment land are required in the Uckfield area, but the Batts Bridge site amounts to 33 ha (77 acres) / 60,000 sq m. This significantly breaches Wealden DC’s policy WCS1 and SP06 target of 40,000 sq m of additional floorspace across the whole District over the Plan period up to 2027.
- d) The adverse impacts of unplanned development of the application site would be exacerbated further as the emerging Oakwood Park proposal is also being promoted. The cumulative impacts of the development of both sites, together with Ridgewood Farm, have not been considered and should be assessed fully through the plan making process which is not yet concluded. It may well be that, if there is to be any further planned and justified commercial development in the area, Oakwood Park is to be preferred to the application site.
- e) The proposal contravenes Wealden DC’s policy GD2 and SPO4 which resist new industrial and commercial and unplanned development outside development boundaries. An important strategic gap and buffer would be lost between the rural Parish of Fletching, and the historic
- rural setting of the hamlet of Piltdown, and the more urban settlement pattern of Maresfield and Uckfield along the A22.
- f) The Applicant’s Transport assessment does not assess all trips throughout the day. There will be thousands over the day. The A272 is already heavily used and congested during peak hours, particularly at Batts Bridge Roundabout where A272 intersects with the A22 Uckfield Bypass. There is not the capacity to cope with this additional demand, especially when combined with the future demand of all the sites around Uckfield and Maresfield which are yet to be built out. Residents within the settlement of Piltdown have been actively campaigning for a speed reduction on the A272 from 40 to 30 mph, and the additional traffic generated from this proposal would increase existing dangers to local residents as the A272 passes through Piltdown, Newick and Maresfield Village.
- g) Wealden Policy SPO7 would be contravened as the proposed development is not within a town centre nor close to integrated public transport infrastructure and will be primarily served by road transport. Buildings primarily in office use would not be appropriate. Uckfield Railway Station is not within walking distance and there is a limited bus service along the A272 between Haywards Heath/Newick and Uckfield.
- h) The application does not contain a sufficient flood risk analysis, required by Wealden policy SPO10, and does not to account the recent unprecedented rain fall patterns we experience locally.
- i) SPO13 – the proposals do not represent good design. The existing business park was specified to be low density and low rise (2 storeys). The current proposal is dense and certain buildings are high rise and wholly out of character with the locality.
- j) The application site is not ‘previously developed land’. The 1947 RAF aerial photograph of Maresfield Army Camp clearly shows that the application site formed no part of the Camp.
- k) The application contains no statutory Environmental Impact Assessment of the proposal, as required by national policy. It does not meet Wealden DC policy SPO9 and fails to address the issues of climate change adequately and does not contain sufficient analysis.
- l) The development would breach Wealden DC’s policies SPO1 and EN8 by failing to enhance the distinctive landscape. It threatens a large tract of productive agricultural land. This is also contrary to policy WCS14 as 77 acres of greenfield land would be lost.
- m) The proposal does not constitute sustainable development in accordance with the policies of the Core Strategy WCS14. It would create substantial and material adverse impacts including the unjustified loss of 77 acres of greenfield land. It would create an excessive quantum of development, the case for which is not supported by evidence. It would represent a scale and location of development that would breach the restriction of the Core Strategy’s specific quantitative allocation for Uckfield.
- n) The application avoids any assessment of likely CO2 / greenhouse gas emissions that may be caused by the proposed development in construction and operation and makes no reference to how such emissions may be offset. This is especially important given the vulnerability of Ashdown Forest an internationally protected ecosystem.
- o) The proposal is in breach of a wide range of policies in the National Planning Policy Framework. The major adverse impacts of the application outweigh any perceived benefits of the proposal in terms of employment creation and biodiversity gain.
- p) The proposal would substantially harm the setting to listed buildings.
This large planning application, if successful, would cause substantial harm to the local environment, A272 and A22 road usage, Sussex communities and amenity. Now is your opportunity for you to have your say.