CPRE Sussex responds to Wealden Direction of Travel consultation
CPRE Sussex has submitted a wide ranging response to Wealden District Council’s Direction of Travel consultation.
Wealden District Council is preparing a new local plan for Wealden District. The Local Plan will set out policies to shape places, plan and manage growth in the district and guide development over a 15-20 year period. It will be the key planning document against which the District Council will assess and decide planning applications.
The Direction of Travel consultation is the first stage in the Council’s engagement process, seeking views on what is important to the district’s communities, Town and Parish Councils, partner organisations and stakeholders.
The consultation document covers planning themes including climate change, infrastructure, housing, the economy and employment, town centres, tourism, the natural environment, landscape, heritage and cultural assets, design and health and wellbeing.
Four key points in the CPRE Sussex response are highlighted below:
With a large proportion of the district within in the AONB, CPRE Sussex would not expect the council to plan to accommodate the housing number derived from the standard method in the Low Weald; but robustly argue that the housing target should be reduced to reflect the proportion of protected land in the district, as successfully argued by Lewes District Council in the formation of their adopted local plan
The evidence base for the new plan is critical, particularly in terms of the natural environment. This must be progressed as a priority to inform the plan, not retrofitted at a later date.
Recognising the fact that Wealden’s existing housing stock contains a high proportion of larger dwelling stock, with far fewer one bedroom homes than the average, as well as more four bed and five bed (plus) homes, and that there is a substantial level of under-occupancy in Wealden, it would make sense for the plan to focus on the delivery of the types of homes needed (one and two bedroom and retirement properties). We would like the plan to include a separate target for affordable homes, recognising that this won’t be achieved just as a by-product of market homes.
The climate emergency requires the council to show real leadership in setting and delivering a vision for a zero carbon Wealden. The local plan is central to this vision and must be more ambitious.