Our volunteer District Officers (DOs), Liz Thomas and Jennifer Chibnall, spoke at the National Park planning committee meeting earlier in March 2020 against a proposal to build large glass and timber clad tower houses on this site which was allocated in the Lewes Neighbourhood Plan to meet local housing need. The National Park planning officers had recommended the proposal be accepted even though the development didn’t include any affordable housing. The expensive ‘novel’ design was offered as reason why none of the houses could be affordable. Liz Thomas drew attention to the precedent set by a High Court case in London which rejected such building on sites that has been designated for affordable housing.
There was much criticism of the design, in particular from the chair of the Planning Committee, both for its unsuitability in this Lewes Conservation Area and it being so expensive in its construction that the applicant argued this precluded affordable housing. As a result, the officer recommendation was rejected unanimously by the committee, and the application refused. Click the links below to see our DOs in action and the Chair’s excellent dissection of Conservation Area purposes. He held that any development in a Conservation Area, must respect and reflect the original reasons for the designation saying – it was not sufficient to argue a development was “good architecture” in isolation and it must be framed by the reasons originally set out for the area to be conserved.
Click on their namehere to see Jennifer Chibnall and Liz Thomas in action
Local Lewes councillors and the Friends of the South Downs (South Downs Society) called on the developer to reduce the over provision of parking for each property on the site but called for on street parking restrictions to prevent commuter parking causing problems for the new householders. There is already local concern as nearby is the HQ for both the Police and Fire Services. The Society also called for
- Improved cycling and walking links to Lewes town which is only a short distance away.
- A better design to compensate for the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services at thid greenfield site.
- A pedestrian crossing on Old Malling Way – via a ‘Grampian-style’ condition (meaning it would happen before the wider development begins).
- Provision of zero carbon houses, – the design brief layout must cover the type of heating to be used. If solar panels are to be used, the layout needs to addressed from the outset
Consultation on the design brief has now closed, but more details of the proposal can be found by searching for the reference SDNP/DBC/SD76 on the South Downs National Park planning portal. Consultation on the wider outline application is still active, however, with more details available by searching for the reference SDNP/18/06103/OUT. For more information go to: https://www.southdowns.gov.uk/old-malling-farm-design-brief/
The Society’s response was prepared by our Lewes Town volunteer District Officers – Liz Thomas and Dr Jennifer Chibnall – click below to read the document:
SDS Response to SDNP Design Brief Consultation March 2020