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Lewes DC approves development application supported by CPRE Sussex

13th December 2023

Planning application (LW/23/0583) for commercial and leisure facilities offering rural employment on land to the north of the Old Brickworks, Station Road, Plumpton

CPRE Sussex  presentation to Lewes District Council Planning Committee:

CPRE Sussex (Lewes District) supports this application.

Before the 11th hour response from Highways, there was only a single objection to this application. That is highly unusual in Plumpton where residents care strongly – the most recent out of plan application received hundreds of objections. A single local objection should be read as indicating strong local support for the employment and other facilities that will be delivered under this application.

Other than Highways, the one objection sums up the issue nicely – it is suggested that these facilities are not needed locally in Plumpton because you can find them in surrounding villages. In practice that means car journeys as the public transport options are severely limited, with an especially infrequent bus service.

The reality in relatively isolated rural villages like Plumpton with very limited local facilities is that there is high dependency on cars. Whilst laudable to try and eliminate car journeys the pragmatic objective must  be to reduce the distance of the majority of unavoidable journeys.

This application is a step in that direction from the local perspective; it is in cycling range for locals, and where cars are used, the journey is likely to be shorter than a visit elsewhere. Whilst a footpath linking this to the main population centre in Plumpton Green might encourage more pedestrian traffic, it is likely to have very limited practical benefit on use of the proposed facilities by anyone other than very local residents, and ultimately is not regarded as deliverable.

In terms of the applicant providing a significant subsidy to facilitate a more frequent bus service, that is regarded as a little disproportionate given the limited size of the new commercial and leisure facilities. It also appears intrinsically unfair to place the burden on the provider of  much needed commercial facilities when the multitude of residential applications for out of plan greenfield sites in Plumpton and surrounding villages appear not to be targeted to this extent.

In summary, CPRE Sussex (Lewes District) supports this application for the following main reasons:

  • Whilst it is out of plan, it is for much-needed rural employment and does not include any residential element that would compromise the villages spatial plan
  • It brings certainty to the whole site which has been subject to multiple planning applications in recent years, none of which have been built out – to all intents and purposes this greenfield site could be regarded as brownfield in that regard
  • The proposal is regarded as high quality, sensitive to the landscape, in keeping with the commercial site it borders, and respects its neighbours
  • It has the support of Plumpton Parish Council, and the developer engaged constructively with Plumpton Parish Council from the outset, and has listened and responded to concerns raised