Council chairman ‘horrified’ by decision to approve Ninfield housing development

Artist's impression of a 80-home development on land at Manchester Road, Ninfield
Artist's impression of a 80-home development on land at Manchester Road, Ninfield

The chairman of Wealden District Council has said she is ‘horrified’ by a decision to approve a major housing development in Ninfield. 

On Wednesday (January 15), Wealden District Council’s planning committee south supported a reserved matters application to build up to 80 houses on land off Manchester Road.

The scheme had previously been before the committee in December, but was deferred in order to allow further consultation on amended drawings put forward the developer.

As the application had already been discussed at some length at the previous meeting, committee chairman Susan Stedman said the committee would only discuss the results of the further consultation before making its decision.

Cllr Stedman said: “I made it absolutely clear and I asked [head of planning Chris Bending] to absolutely reiterate what we deferred. 

“We discussed this for over an hour last month, all the points that had been raised, and it was deferred purely for consultation on the amended plans.”

According to an officers’ update, the consultation saw 28 further letters of objection raised by residents and a further representation from Ninfield Parish Council. 

However, officers said, these representations did not raise any new points which would change their recommendation.

Officers added that many of the issues raised during the additional public consultation had already been considered at the outline stage (which was approved  in August last year). 

As no new points were considered to have been raised, the committee held only a brief discussion on the application.

However, this decision was strongly criticised by ward member (and chairman of the council) Pam Doodes (Con).

She said: “I’m speechless, I am absolutely horrified. I am wondering why Wealden has gone to the expense of holding a special meeting when members haven’t been able to discuss the reserved matters.

“I repeat that having looked at the [webcast] there appeared to be no decision and no votes taken at the last meeting, although it was agreed to come back to listen to the comments which were going to be submitted by the parish of Ninfield.

“Ninfield has done a huge amount of background work. They are not against this application as such, they are trying to protect and enhance their local area.”

Following further discussion the committee voted to approve the application in line with officers’ recommendations.  Nine voted in favour, with one (Cllr Stephen Shing) against.

For further details of the scheme see application reference WD/2019/1859/MRM on the Wealden District Council planning website.