Inspector dismisses 700-home Eastbourne urban extension over road safety concerns

An appeal over plans for 700 homes on the outskirts of Eastbourne has been dismissed by a planning inspector due to concerns about highway safety, despite the local authority lacking a five-year housing land supply.

Plans for a community centre within a proposed Eastbourne urban extension. Image: The Vine Family and the University of Brighton
Plans for a community centre within a proposed Eastbourne urban extension. Image: The Vine Family and the University of Brighton

The Vine Family and the University of Brighton submitted outline plans to Wealden District Council in East Sussex for a mixed-use urban extension including housing, 8,600 square metres of employment floorspace, shops, a medical centre, a school and community facilities in September 2017. A revised application was submitted in November 2018.

Wealden District Council failed to reach a decision and the applicants lodged an appeal on the grounds of non-determination.

Inspector Louise Phillips dismissed the appeal, citing concerns about the "potential for collisions between different types of road user" at proposed junctions that would provide access to the site.

Phillips noted "substantial" benefits offered by the proposed scheme and said she had given them "very significant weight" in her decision.

Among them were the provision of up to 700 homes, of which 35 per cent would be affordable. Phillips said this would "clearly be a benefit", adding that the local authority’s inability to demonstrate a five-year housing land supply meant the provision of housing should "weigh heavily in favour of the development in the planning balance".

"The economic benefits of the scheme in the form of the employment and retail floorspace proposed also weigh strongly in its favour," she said.

However, Phillips went on to say these benefits had to be "weighed against the conflict I have found with the development plan in respect of highway safety".

The inspector said the scheme would compromise bus priority measures being planned by the council and said proposed access junctions "would potentially compromise the safety of all road users".

In conclusion, Phillips said: "Overall, the basic risk to highway safety constitutes an adverse impact of the proposed development which would significantly and demonstrably outweigh its benefits."

Last month, an inspector dismissed an appeal against Wealden District Council's failure to determine a 74-home application due to the proposed scheme’s proximity to protected habitats.

Earlier this month, an inspector dismissed an appeal over a 46-unit sheltered housing scheme in West Sussex, despite a housing shortfall in the area, over concerns including harm to the appearance and character of the area.

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