More beauty spots to go in Crowborough as another AONB development approved

Olympian Louis Smith

The development by Vistry Homes on Eridge Road, will also not be the last to encroach on AONB, planners were warned, due to the lack of a Local Plan for Wealden.

AONB are areas where town planners normally cannot build on as they are areas designated for conservation.

But as the Times reported last year, Wealden District Council (WDC) is one of a number of local authorities in the area that has had its Local Plan rejected by the government’s Planning Inspectorate.

Local plans outline where houses and other infrastructure is to go. WDC, along with Sevenoaks District Council and Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council had their plans rejected after failing to plan for enough houses to meet the local area’s needs or failing to communicate with other councils.

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council’s local plan, which proposes a controversial garden village in the parish of Capel is currently under review with the Planning Inspector.

Because Wealden cannot prove it has met housing needs in the area, and despite the authority’s Planning Committee (North) remaining divided in its vote on the new Eridge Road plan last week [January 13], committee chair Johanna Howell (Con, Frant & Wadhurst) said she had to grant permission.

“There is encroachment into the AONB and there will continue to be encroachment into the AONB, because people need homes,” Cllr Howell stressed.

“It is just a fact of life that people need homes and there will be people desperate to live in these houses.”

It is not the first development that planners in Wealden have had to force through despite encroachment into AONB.

As the Times reported in October, a housing project approved on Eridge Road for two detached four-bedroom houses was granted permission even though it was deemed to have a ‘significant impact’ on Ashdown Forest.

In comparing the two developments, Cllr Howell, said: “This [most recent project in Eridge] is considered to be a sustainable location,” adding that the area needed housing.

“If we don’t consider this [housing needs] in the round and properly then we are failing in our duty as Wealden district councillors,” she told planners.



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