Committee rejects affordable local homes development

REJECTED: The proposed Lamberhurst development

PLANS to build seven affordable dwellings in rural Lamberhurst were voted down last week after a lengthy discussion of an application that contained “all the hot button issues”.

Gold Property Limited had applied to build seven affordable homes at Lamberhurst Vineyard on Furnace Lane, and Council planning officers had recommended that planning permission be granted, subject to conditions, and also subject to the completion of a Section 106 legal agreement – which secures financial contributions from developers.

However, with questions around affordability, local connections and the site’s location within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the application had attracted an “unheard of” 194 objections, said Cllr Dr Linda Hall (Goudhurst and Lamberhurst.

In a discussion on April 12, Planning Committee member Cllr Matt Bailey (Paddock Wood West) echoed the fear that the application would be “the thin end of the wedge” for further developments at Lamberhurst Vineyard.

However, debate between the committee members quickly went on to centre around the clashes between housing need, the environment and the effort that had gone into the Lamberhurst Neighbourhood Development Plan.

Cllr Godfrey Bland (Hawkhurst and Sandhurst) commented: “When I first read this application, I thought: ‘Golly, this presses all the hot buttons that the planning committee feels strongly about’.

“It’s all social housing. It’s just what we want.

“But when I look below the surface of that excitement, I find too much to dislike and disagree with in this particular proposal,” he said, citing the AONB and the small number of houses supplied, as well as giving ‘weight’ to the recently made Local Plan.

Cllr Bland proposed rejecting the application, seconded by Cllr Paterson, citing the effect on the AONB and conflict with the Lamberhurst Neighbourhood Plan and unsustainability.

Committee members voted to reject the application by eight votes to four.

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