Rother & Hastings District Update August 2020
CPRE Sussex report for Rother & Hastings District.
One benefit of the COVID 19 crisis has been to force Rother to stream all their Council meetings live, including Planning, so residents can see how decisions are made without having to trek in person to Bexhill.
On the downside COVID has stifled progress on the new Local Plan, but this probably affects most local planning authorities.
Two controversial planning applications have dominated recent local debate. The first, a retrospective application for two caravan pitches in the High Weald AONB, outside any development boundary, involved gypsies as applicants. Rother had refused to take any enforcement action prior to the decision, which was made at the August meeting to refuse and now take enforcement action.
The second is a major application for a children’s activity centre at the old Pestalozzi Charity premises at Sedlescombe, again in the High Weald AONB. This would involve a huge increase in numbers using the site, creation of new lakes, and structures such as climbing towers and zip wires. A controversial change of opinion from East Sussex CC landscape adviser from objecting to supporting the application prompted a threat of legal action from a residents’ group‘s solicitors. This in turn has caused the officer report in favour to be pulled, so we wait to see the next instalment of this drama.
The new Planning White paper landed in mid-August with the threat of raising the housing numbers in Rother to ludicrous levels. Current rate of building homes in Rother is 241 per year, with a government set target figure of 335. Previous government talk earlier this year was of raising it to an unachievably high number, 737, but the White Paper is presaging an increase to a fantasy figure of 1173. This when 82% of Rother sits in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.