A planning inspector has heard the strong feelings of local people against a proposal to build some 700 homes, shops and amenities on the outskirts of Eastbourne, although the land lies within Wealden District.

The hearing, concerning the site at Mornings Mill Farm in Willingdon, saw Conservatives collectively representing residents’ views, with Eastbourne & Willingdon MP, Caroline Ansell, the Mayor of Polegate, Cllr Douglas Murray, and Cllr Robert Smart from Eastbourne making local feelings known to the inspector.

Caroline Ansell comments: “This appeal hearing was a critically important opportunity in the planning process to protect both Willingdon and Eastbourne’s interests. We were there fighting for our residents and making it clear we do not want this development.

I pay tribute to all those who addressed the inspector and who campaigned tirelessly to protect this beautiful place. We remain in steadfast support of you and urge the inspector to refuse this appeal.”  

Speaking at the hearing in Hellingly, Councillor Robert Smart, leader of the Conservative Group on Eastbourne Borough Council, said he spoke for residents of the seaside town. He reiterated how residents in both Eastbourne and Willingdon were “almost unanimously horrified by this proposal” and referred to the record number of objections received by the planning authority.

Cllr Smart highlighted how administrative boundaries meant that Eastbourne’s infrastructure would be expected to support the huge new development, whereas it would be Wealden District that accrued financial benefits.

“The voice of Eastbourne should be of paramount importance to the inquiry”, Cllr Smart said to inspector Michael Boniface, in asking him to weigh carefully the overall planning balance. Traffic concerns were key to determining the appeal, said Cllr Smart. He cited the likely effects on the A2270, described as ‘the most congested A-road in England’. He feared the 103,000 residents of his town would be “locked, perhaps gridlocked at the mouth of a funnel of traffic”.

Cllr Smart, also a member of the Pevensey and Cuckmere Water Levels Management Board, explained how he’d been pressing for rigorous modelling to understand the effects of concreting the green-field site along with the cumulative effects of so many developments.  He fears that saturation point, literally, may have already been reached. He commented that the developer has yet to apply, formally for permission to discharge surface water.

Caption: Councillor Smart with Councillor Murray at the hearing in Hellingly