Cllr Alan Shuttleworth's objection to the Friday Street Farm development

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Wealden District Council

Head of Planning and Environmental Services

Council Offices

Vicarage Lane

Hailsham

BN27 2AX

August 8th 2020

 

Planning Application    WD/2020/1391/MAO  Friday Street Farm.   Wates Developments

 

Objection from Cllr Alan Shuttleworth

Langney ward Councillor. Eastbourne Borough Council/East Sussex County Council.

 

Dear Sir/Madam,

 

I have received notification that Wates Developments’ have resubmitted an outline planning application to Wealden District Council to build 250 houses, along with open space, children’s play areas, sports pitches and allotments on the green belt alongside Pennine Way at Friday Street Farm. I have studied the application and wish to lodge my strong objection, which I am confident is supported by a very large number of residents from the Eastbourne side of the boundary. I have personally been in touch with hundreds of residents who wish to lodge their objection.

There was a real appreciation that the Wealden South Planning Committee listened to the views and took notice of the significant issues which were raised by people who experience the problems daily, and rejected this application earlier this year

 

These concerns have not been addressed by this resubmission.

 

Along with many residents I am both astonished and angry that this application is coming back to the planning committee largely in the same form as the previous submission WD/2019/1994/MAO which was refused permission on 21st May 2020. The same issues which were considered by the Planning Committee South and led to the refusal of permission are applicable in this resubmission.

 

It would be a travesty of local democracy and of the integrity of the planning system if this application were able to gain permission by waiting 3 months and having another go!

 

Although the building land is in Wealden which means that the substantive planning application is considered by Wealden District Council and Wealden councillors the impact of the development will be largely felt by the existing residents living in Eastbourne, and some in Wealden, and the infrastructure will clearly rely almost exclusively on the infrastructure in Eastbourne.

 

The reasons  for refusing this application is based around 4 main areas of objection:

  1. Contrary to the Wealden Local Plan 1998.

Contrary to Government Inspector verdict at Core Strategy Hearing.

 

Legal argument.

Since the Wealden District Council Local Plan has been ruled out by a government Inspector, development on this site is governed by the 1998 Core Plan. Hence the site is contrary to Saved Policies GD2 and DC17 of the adopted Wealden Local Plan 1998, by virtue of its location outside the development boundary as set out on the proposals map of that plan.    

The committee must be clear: this application is in breach of that strategy and must be refused unless persuasive material considerations justify taking a different decision.  

This argument was accepted by the Wealden South planning committee on May 21st 2020. There are no new persuasive considerations to justify a different decision.

The fact that other applications have disregarded this breach is not an argument for ignoring the breach. Further, the presence of other overwhelming evidence confirms the view of the previous Planning Inspector’s report on the Core Strategy that this particular land should remain as agricultural land and not be built upon.

Wealden Council’s Core Strategy hearings with the Government Inspector.

I attended and spoke at the Inspector hearing about this piece of land, which was designated for agricultural use and not designated as housing land.

 

 

         2   Flooding, Waste Water Sewage :Inadequate Pumping Arrangements.

 

I am also objecting to this development which would increase existing flooding problems of surface water runoff, issues with capacity for foul drainage, as well as increasing the issues around wastewater treatment which have been recognised as presenting a risk. There is significant evidence of the problems experienced by residents both in the immediate area and in other parts of Langney who already suffer from the effects of inadequate provision for Wastewater and drainage. The proposed mitigations will fall well short of meeting the needs.

 

Evidence to support these existing problems:

  • The submission from the Pevensey and Cuckmere Water Level Management Board

(dated 05/08/2020) states that

                “The application presents an unacceptable on site/off site flood risk ”

There is already widespread flooding which can only deteriorate with the effect of climate change and more building.

  • East Sussex Local Lead Flooding Authority objected to the application citing inadequate survey of the local water courses.

 

  • Wealden District Council’s own drainage officer dealing with these issues also raised concerns about the proposals.

 

  • As County Councillor, along with the Member of Parliament , I attended site meetings with officers from Southern Water, to draw attention to the problems faced by local residents who cannot use their toilets after heavy rainfall.

 

  • The sight of large tankers trying to make up for the totally inadequate pumping station arrangements, and tankers causing a health hazard as they sit with their engines running.

 

  • The current drainage system already cannot cope with extremely heavy rain; manholes at the bottom of Mendip Avenue lift, creating hazards to people and animals.

 

  • The Government Flood warning information service shows the ditches cannot cope with the run-off. The water will be funnelled to Pennine Way increasing the volume and extent of the flooding and creating a more dangerous situation.

 

Southern Water are unwilling to invest the money needed to fix the existing problems let alone a system to cope with the inevitable increase in flooding and significant issues of drainage capacity around Pennine Way. Further building would exacerbate the existing problems described above.

 

 

  3   Infrastructure – impact on road, transport network, health and education.

 

On top of the existing housing expansion around Stone Cross area this development would overload the network. East Sussex County Council has drawn attention to pressure on the strategic road network. Stagecoach buses have re-routed buses away from adjacent area because of the existing delays in road network. The health service is already overstretched and there is no specific provision made for a new Health Centre to offer more doctors or dentists.

Already there can be quite a delay getting onto and across Friday Street with traffic queuing. Pennine Way is the only road exit from the area. There are already around 800 homes who all feed into Pennine Way and this is their only road route in or out to reach or leave this area. This already means between 1300 - 2000 vehicles from the existing properties along with all the service and commercial vehicles and visitors to the area, all using this one road, leaving huge congestion already at busy times. With the additional housing this could mean an additional 500+ vehicles coming and going along Pennine Way. This is totally unsustainable.

The existing delays, coupled with so much additional traffic will cause a growing health hazard from exhaust emissions and cause adverse air quality issues, an issue raised by the government Inspector.

 

  1. Environmental Impact.

I am objecting on the grounds that development will adversely affect the ecological and environmental nature of the area.

A previous government Inspector as well as the Local Plan in 1998 had accepted the environmental case for not building on this farmland due to the proximity of the Pevensey Levels site of Special Scientific Interest and that any activity around the drainage could adversely affect aquatic plant life, atmospheric pollution, as well as changing hydrological conditions leading to a deterioration of water quality. Habitat surveys have shown the presence protected species in the area, including bats, the Great Crested Newt, water vole and a range of breeding and wintering birds.

 

This Inspector ruled that the land be NOT designated as housing land.

 

  1. Inadequate Consultation - highlighted by Government Inspector.

 

The recent Government Inspector failing of the Wealden Local Plan due to its lack of compliance to constructive engagement with neighbouring authorities, and its highlighting of the shortcomings in dealing with habitat and air quality issues would further undermine the Wealden Council Planning process. One of the key lessons should be to engage constructively with bordering Authorities, in this case, Eastbourne.

In conclusion I ask the Wealden Planning South Committee to continue their earlier good work and reject this planning application, which mirrors the previous application.

 

 

 

 

 

I am also formally requesting to be allowed to represent the residents of the Langney area who live on the Eastbourne side of the boundary, at the Wealden Planning South committee which discusses this application.  The vast majority of affected residents live in the area that I represent.

I ask that I be allowed to join the virtual meeting and speak on this matter. I am already set up for Microsoft Teams.

 Please confirm that I will be allowed to speak on behalf of the Langney residents and advise me of any relevant information in connection with this process.

I am sending this letter by both email and by land mail. Please confirm receipt.

 

Kind regards,

 

Cllr Alan Shuttleworth

Eastbourne Borough Councillor, Langney ward.

East Sussex County Councillor Langney division.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


My new role as Deputy Leader of Eastbourne Borough Council

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It’s been a little over a month since it was first announced that I would be the new deputy leader of the Borough Council, replacing my friend Alan Shuttleworth, who has served in the role since 2018. I thought you might like to hear a little of what I‘ve been up to.

The timing is fortuitous as Eastbourne’s has just begun to see the reopening of many of our high street shops as lockdown is eased and a week away from many restaurants and hospitality venues allowed to reopen. With my other hat on, as Chief Executive of Your Eastbourne Business Improvement District (BID), it links-in with the councils efforts to ensure our town comes out as successfully as possible.

For those who may not know, BID is a nationwide programme aimed at securing a successful long term future for Town Centres across the UK. Eastbourne joined over 300 other towns to become a BID in September 2019. Consequently, one of my first duties as Deputy Leader has been to bring together partners across all sectors to prepare a recovery plan for Eastbourne as lockdown begins to be unwound by the government. This work is perhaps the most important role I’ve ever undertaken and everyone continues to give countless hours to make sure of its success.

We know that it is absolutely crucial that the Council take all the necessary steps to get this lockdown exit right and having David Tutt's support as Leader and my Lib Dem colleagues is a real plus for which I am very grateful.

Our objectives are clear. We must continue to do everything we can to stop the spread of COVID 19, protect businesses and jobs for the future, restore confidence in our high street and, ultimately, protect and support our local community.

This week, thanks to the partnership working of those organisations, I’m proud to say that local businesses have a supply of PPE equipment, enabling them to buy low cost supplies and support the local economy whilst also protecting their customers. Already 30 businesses have placed orders with a buying consortium established by the Eastbourne Hospitality Association; supported by my Devonshire Ward colleagues Ward Budget.

Meanwhile speaking to retailers in the town, it is also clear that the numbers of customers shopping in our town has been - what I have been describing as - cautiously positive. Businesses are taking their duties to prevent the spread seriously and we know we must work together to ensure that Eastbourne and East Sussex do not attract similar infection rates from other areas.

I won’t gloss over how difficult all this is but your Lib Dem Council is being extremely proactive 24/7.

Our voluntary community has also been highly proactive in their response - often being the frontline to those in the most need. I was delighted to speak to over 40 representatives of these groups, and to hear exactly what their needs are for the immediate future.  They have faced challenges and will continue to do so, for sure. Overwhelmingly though they reported back positively as to how they’ve adapted to this unprecedented situation. They flagged that by working together more and learning how to operate somewhat differently, they have managed - at times - to even improve their services to our community. This is very encouraging.

Our ability to be creative and embrace necessary changes will, I am sure, ensure our town is better able to recover.

Naturally this crucial recovery work relies on a strong, proactive Council and I want to take this opportunity to tell you that your Council, from officers to elected representatives, have been working day and night to ensure we are all focussed on one common goal: For the good of Eastbourne.

Take care now, and all the very best to you and your family.

Stephen Holt
Deputy Leader, Eastbourne Borough Council


A blog from Councillor Helen Burton

I can’t believe it was a year ago I was elected as an Eastbourne Borough Councillor, the time has absolutely flown by. What a year it’s been, and who could have imagined a year ago that I would be writing this during lockdown in the middle of a pandemic, a crisis affecting local councils across the country?

I’ve learned a lot during the last year, not least that there is often a lack of understanding about what the role involves and a distrust of anyone who considers themselves a politician, local or otherwise. As someone who has been a community campaigner in Eastbourne for many years, some people’s change of attitude towards me was shocking. As a social entrepreneur, my community interest company Volunteers Network has been supporting the community locally for years. We produce a local community newspaper and run a library. We try to make it easy for residents to connect with the services they need and support residents in many different ways. Because of my work organising this, and an ethical lifestyle column I wrote in the local newspaper for several years, a lot of people in Eastbourne know me, and up until standing for election, feedback from the public was overwhelmingly positive. As soon as I slapped on a rosette though and stood as a candidate, that all changed. During the local elections, I was relentlessly targeted by opposition trolls online, and people who had supported my work for years suddenly withdrew their support.

I learnt that we have an ‘us and them’ attitude towards government in this country, and as soon as I was elected, I became one of ‘them’.

The elections happened at the same time as finally getting the keys to the library my team and I had been fighting to save for the previous two years. As a single mum of a child with special needs, finding time for campaigning wasn’t always easy but I had the support of my family and friends and managed to juggle campaigning with re-cataloguing 7,000 books at the library and getting it ready to re-open. I worked well into the evenings and all weekends for a month, on top of my usual full schedule, and by the time Election Day came round I was exhausted. Literally, as I had, as usual, pushed myself to the extreme and ended up in hospital suffering from exhaustion and dehydration.

My colleagues looked after me and I was on light duties by Election Day, just delighted that all of it was worth it and that I, and the rest of my ward team were successful. Equally important was the fact that the Lib Dem’s maintained control of the council.

The next step was a group meeting where roles were assigned, and as well as many committee roles I became Eastbourne’s first LGBTQ champion and a member of the South Down’s National Park Authority. Suddenly, I had two authority roles with a steep learning curve for each. The next few months were a blur of inductions and training sessions, so much so that I felt like Eastbourne Town Hall had become a second home. The SDNPA meetings and training take place in Midhurst, which for me meant many days leaving the house at 7am and getting home at 7pm. My life now consisted of juggling being a CEO of Volunteers Network, council meetings, events and family life. Not easy, but very rewarding.

By September life had settled into a routine, albeit a hectic one. Between volunteering and work at both authorities I was working more than full time. As in most councils, the expectation is to work around 25hrs a week for an allowance of roughly £50 a week. All the while, many residents would always distrust me now for being one of ‘them’. Add to that being a Liberal Democrat in a predominantly Brexit supporting town!

For me personally, the year was a tough one. Like many children with special educational needs, my daughter was out of school during the year and as well as everything else I was in an ongoing battle with the county council for a school place for her. Eventually, 15hrs a week for a PA was organised until something more permanent could be arranged, but other than that I had to rely on help from my parents to get us both through. In December, I contracted pneumonia and was very ill for six weeks, last month I was isolated due to Covid-19, luckily with mild symptoms. During the last year I also found two houses in Eastbourne I fell in love with, planning to move, but each fell through which added to my stresses. The last one got so close to a moving date I had boxes packed.

Unexpectedly last year, I also became a prospective Parliamentary candidate. I was accepted on a Lib Dem Future Women MP’s weekend which gave me the encouragement I needed to believe I could do it. It’s a challenging process to go through, and when I was approved, general elections were looming. A vague dream became an imminent possibility. I stood in two local selections for PPC, getting to the last three candidates for the hotly contested Lewes seat. I didn’t get chosen, but I surprised myself and loved being grilled on stage by a room full of people. A few years ago, I would have laughed at the idea of me even speaking publicly. I wasn’t selected, but I had great feedback and it made me realise that anything is possible with the right encouragement. I learnt a lot during the process.

So, what have I achieved as a local Councillor? I hope I’ve been useful. I have certainly given my all to it. As a social entrepreneur, I’ve always tried to use my voice to help those who need it and as a councillor I have a louder voice, with the potential to make a bigger difference. My maiden speech was supporting Eastbourne Council’s Carbon Neutral 2030 goal. I’ve contributed to Eastbourne’s whole estate plan in conjunction with the SDNPA which will conserve and enhance Eastbourne’s Downland for future generations. By sitting in committees and using my experience in social care and community work I hope I have been able to influence what we do as a council and how we work. I am part of a team, a committed group who aim to keep everything running well in our town, creating the best environment possible for our residents. I am also working with officers who are dedicated to their roles and recently, during the current crisis, have gone above and beyond to support residents.

I am incredibly proud of how residents, community organisations and the council have worked together during the pandemic to make sure everyone has the support they need. We have been holding weekly Eastbourne Cobra meetings as well as council meetings and sub group meetings supporting local businesses, hoteliers, the street community and the voluntary sector. We may be working from home but all Councillors have been busy during these unprecedented times.

Our Lib Dem group set up an EB Together campaign and has been making calls to vulnerable residents across Eastbourne to make sure they are ok. The team has contacted 5,000 in a few weeks, signposting residents as necessary and making sure those without internet still know how to get help. We have also printed floor stickers to help small grocery shops encourage social distancing. For my part, I set up an East Sussex wide phone befriending service and was overwhelmed by over 200 volunteers coming forward to help. We now have many volunteers making weekly calls to people in isolation and it is making a big difference. One person we are supporting told me yesterday we’d saved his life.

This was not how I expected my first year as a councillor to end and the next year is likely to be very challenging. The pandemic will affect our community for years to come, and as a councillor it will be my job to try to minimise negative impacts and maximise positive ones. Our sense of community has shined through with a real ‘Blitz spirit’ and we need to build on that. Many people have had to reassess the way they work, and with more people at home and less traffic on the roads the environment is flourishing. Grass is being allowed to grow in some places and species of wildflowers not seen for years are starting to appear. Food availability has been a concern, and potentially all of these changes in our perception of what’s possible, offer opportunities to build on exciting projects locally.

Throughout the year, the most important thing that I’ve learnt is that if you push yourself, if you have the right encouragement and if others believe in you, you start to believe in yourself. Before the support of the Campaign for Gender Balance I never would have imagined I could become a PPC, let alone one day maybe an MP. As a single mum on a small income with a complicated home life it seemed impossible. Who knows what the future holds, but after the last year I know that if any new opportunity arises to serve my community I will just organise my life around that opportunity and go for it.

Given all the issues I’ve been juggling over the last year, I think I did pretty well, and if there is a message from all of this, I hope it is that anyone can become a councillor, it is just a case of making adjustments to your lifestyle. There is no ‘us and them’, just us. If we want government at all levels to be truly representative then we all have a duty to make sure that councils and Parliament are as diverse as we are. Bring on more women, those with disabilities, single parents, the LGBTQ community, people from ethnic minorities and SEND parents. Bring on those living in poverty, the unemployed and the community activists. I tick a few of those boxes, and if I can do it, so can you. See you at the next election I hope?

Helen Burton


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