The site lay outside a defined settlement boundary. The inspector confirmed that the principle of building on agricultural fields was not acceptable. He also heard that a habitats regulation assessment confirmed that some of the traffic associated with future occupiers would pass through the Ashdown Forest, designated as special protection area and a special area of conservation under the EU Habitats Directive.
The appellants had provided a unilateral undertaking making financial contributions towards mitigation of the scheme’s traffic impact. But the inspector found that this agreement did not guarantee delivery of mitigation prior to development. In his view, it was also unclear whether the planned mitigation, even if implemented, would be effective. The need to protect internationally important ecological sites outweighed the benefits of delivering homes in an area with a land supply of less than three years, he concluded.
Inspector: Tim Crouch; Written representations