Hailsham Town Council’s Neighbourhood Planning Committee has submitted a comprehensive response to the revised Wealden District Council Draft Local Plan consultation.

The draft Wealden Local Plan, which was recently approved via a formal Regulation 18 consultation, outlines a preferred vision and contains proposals for guiding future development in the Wealden district, including Hailsham. The plan outlines strategic and non-strategic planning policies to guide development and locations the district council proposes for new homes, employment, community services and infrastructure to help meet the district’s needs.

The plan also aims to protect Wealden’s natural environment and contributes towards the mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

The Town Council has worked with consultants Troy Planning & Design to comment on the Draft Local Plan and has addressed how proposals in the Plan will impact primarily on Hailsham and its residents. The consultancy had previously supported the Town Council when preparing the Hailsham Neighbourhood Plan, which was adopted via a public referendum held in May 2021.

The referendum for the neighbourhood plan asked whether Hailsham residents wanted the district council to use the Neighbourhood Plan to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area. The results of the referendum confirmed that 73% of those who voted were in favour of the neighbourhood plan being used to decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area.

In the response to the Draft Local Plan, the Neighbourhood Planning Committee noted that the document is long and comprehensive (extending to over 400 pages), but at the same time, light on particular references to Hailsham and how the town is envisaged to grow and change over the life of the Plan.

The response to the Local Plan states that: “There is no information on site specific proposals and opportunities. There is no steer on what form development will take and how it will contribute to quality of life and wider benefits in Hailsham. There is no design code.”

“At the same time, the Local Plan needs to be clear on how and where Neighbourhood Plans can play a role. It is important to recognise how successful Neighbourhood Plans have been in Wealden………… and there is now an opportunity for the second wave of Neighbourhood Plans to be more focused on locally-specific matters. The Local Plan needs to be clear on expressing support for this and how the Local and Neighbourhood Plans can be developed together to shape positive, inclusive change.”

The response to the Draft Local Plan concludes: “……The Town Council is very keen to work with the District Council to explore ways in which the Local Plan can incorporate aspirations for change which support the delivery of strategic matters (e.g. infrastructure, housing and population growth) but which also establish the framework for locally specific improvements and projects. This would really help strengthen the relationship between the Local Plan and the forthcoming review of the Hailsham Neighbourhood Plan.

Cllr Mary Laxton, Chair of the Neighbourhood Planning Committee commented: “In essence, the Wealden District Council Draft Local Plan lacks detail, vision or policies to clarify the further impact of more housing in our already expanding town.”

The Town Council’s response to the Draft Wealden Local Plan document can be DOWNLOADED HERE. A hard copy is available to read at the Town Council Offices (office hours: Monday to Friday, 9am-4pm).