A Message From The Chairman Of Westmeston Parish Council.
To Westmeston parishioners and residents of Streat and Ditchling.
The benefit of social media is the rapid distribution of positive information. The unavoidable participation of the unwise leads to the even faster spread of rumour and untruths.
For the avoidance of further anxiety caused to the innocent by the unwise, the following facts and circumstances of a specific planning application may help.
Firstly, a reminder that it is for a life and death reason that we are all subject to emergency legislation, including the rules relating to Lock Down. This applies to all tiers of Government including District Councils and Parish Councils. It means that Planning Departments are reduced to minimum staffing, with the majority working from home. As a result, whilst planning applications continue to be made, little or no action can be taken at this time, including informing relevant parish councils. This council has not been informed or consulted on this case.
LW/20/0140 Application – Land at Middle Common Lane, change of use from agricultural to dogs’ day care with associated buildings. (full details on line)
Despite not being informed of this application (there was no reason for Planning Office to do so at this stage), we gleaned from a third party that it had been submitted and that the applicant had published a leaflet promoting the development, inviting local people to seek further information.
Having then seen the application documents and been informed that Planning office would be resuming regular listing of new applications week staring 11th May, it was a matter of waiting for the consultation period to start. Having repeatedly informed enquirers that there was no deadline and therefore no urgency involved for submitting comments, the fear seems to be spreading that it had to be done by May 4th. Total nonsense of course, Councils do not work that way. There is always full and open information available with an adequate time period.
The Parish Council is complying with the emergency legislation which in our case means that we are unable to hold a meeting. (Meetings with access for the public are required to enable a resolution to be passed). Our Vice Chairman has already made a public statement that the Council neither supports nor objects to this application. This remains our position because we cannot pass a resolution, until Central Government advises otherwise. A Parish council does not have powers such as those held by District Council planners who can make decisions by devolved authority.
Be assured that those concerned about the future of Bruce’s Doggy Day Care have plenty of time to express their viewpoint. There is a minimum of 2 weeks plus days for the bank holiday, and probably an extension beyond.
I would like to send to our friends, neighbours, and supporters from the Beacon Parishes, our compliments and best wishes with hope for safer days to come.
Chairman Westmeston Parish Council
2nd May 2020
LPA – Local Planning Authority. This will almost invariably be Lewes District Council or the SDNP Authority.
LDP – Lewes District Council.
NPPF – National Planning Policy Framework.
PMG – Project Management Group dealing with the Neighbourhood Plan.
SDNP – South Downs National Park Authority.
WPC – Westmeston Parish Council.
WPC does not have the power to approve or refuse planning applications.
Planning applications can be found on the planning portals of Lewes District Council (“LW”) or South Downs National Park (“SDNP”). These can be found at:-
When visiting one of these sites you may find it easiest to choose a “Simple” search. You can then just insert the reference number of the application as noted below and details will be displayed.
LW/20/0140 LW/20/0140 | Change of use of agricultural land to dog day care facility (sui generis) with construction of site access, reception building and field shelter and provision of car parking | Land Adjacent to Middleton Common Farm Middleton Common Lane Streat BN6 8SF
No closing date for comments has yet been set.
We have also been made aware that the regulatory notices were not posted in respect of the application.
SDNP/20/01209/HOUS | New front porch and revised fenestration to left elevation | 1 Church Cottages The Street Westmeston BN6 8RJ Application in progress
SDNP/20/01051/TCA | T1/T2 fell due to ash dieback | The Barn Lewes Road Westmeston Hassocks East Sussex BN6 8RH
SDNP/20/00527/PA15B | Prior Approval for the installation of a GRP Substation enclosure | Land West of The Haven Lewes Road Westmeston BN6 8RL Prior approval not required
SDNP/20/00320/OHL | (1) Removal of HV poles 614481, 614475, 614476, 614477/78, 614479, 614480 and associated HV overhead lines (2) Removal of LV pole 627153 and associated LV overhead lines (3) Installation of new HV terminal pole and 2 stay wires under existing line between poles 614481 and 614482 (4) Installation of new HV terminal pole and 2 stay wires under existing line between poles 614475 and 614474 | Land to The West of The Haven Lewes Road Westmeston East Sussex. No Objection
SDNP/19/05884/HOUS | Erection of entrance porch and adaption of existing dormer window | Cripps Cottage Lewes Road Westmeston BN6 8RH. Approved 04 February 2020
TW/18/0063/TCA | T1 Sycamore to fell T2 Ash to reduce by 25% to provide more light to the garden and conservatory | Church Cottage Lewes Road Westmeston East Sussex BN6 8RH Status: Decided
SDNP/19/04853/FUL | Change of use of land to permit the keeping of horses and erection of stable block with improved access to the Lewes Road | Land On The East Side of Lewes Road Lewes Road Westmeston East Sussex. Application in progress.
SDNP/18/04155/FUL Application to build a large single dwelling on Keymer field in the Strategic Rural Gap
Objection by Westmeston Parish Council
This application has been appraised in detail and is being strongly objected to by Ditchling Parish Council (DPC) on the grounds that it directly contradicts the wishes of the local community for local development set out in the Beacon Parishes Neighbourhood Development Plan for Ditchling, Streat and Westmeston recently approved and adopted by local referendum. After detailed consideration of the application, Westmeston Parish Council has come to the same conclusion.
DPC has set out a very detailed appraisal of how the application should be considered in the context of the tests to be met in section 79 (formerly paragraph 55) of the National Planing Policy Framework (NPPF) and the relevant policies of the Neighbourhood Development Plan. Again, after much consideration, WPC supports this appraisal. The application to build on this site should not be granted.
1. Section 79 of the National Planing Policy Framework (NPPF)
Two key features of the appraisal under the NPPF are that section 79 is one of the very few exceptions within the NPPF that would allow a development outside the settlement boundary in the countryside. The second key features of this appraisal is that houses developed under this clause are very rare because the majority of such applications do not meet the section's very rigorous tests. And this is without the additional rigor that applies within a National Park, where the bar is set even higher.
As the Local Planning Authority (LPA) will be aware, there is close precedent. A proposal for a paragraph 55 house within the South Downs National Park (SDNP) made in 2016 was refused permission both by the local planning authority (East Hants) and the Planning Inspector (on appeal). This application has many parallels to the Ditchling application. It was for a large, environmentally sustainable dwelling on the edge of a historic hamlet beyond its settlement boundary. The Planning Case Officer recommended that the application be refused permission for the following reasons:
It is not accepted that the use of existing technologies to provide a highly sustainable dwelling would override the very high bar in terms of protecting and enhancing the National Park countryside, which is a local and national policy requirement
Whilst it may be an outstanding form of design, it is not a design that would sit comfortably in this traditional hamlet in the South Downs National Park
Whilst the NPPF does allow for isolated rural dwellings, this proposal would add to an existing hamlet and the contemporary design does not reflect the traditional rural character of the area. The proposal would therefore not be sensitive to the defining local characteristics of the area.
The inspector’s ruling at Appeal (refusal) stated that whilst there was much to commend about the quality and innovative nature of the house's design", he could not allow it to be built in the proposed ‘sensitive’ national park location.
2. Relevant Neighbourhood Plan Policies
The proposed development is not in one of the housing development sites set out in the Neighbourhood Development Plan and is outside the settlement boundary. The site directly abuts the historic Conservation Area. The site is in a National Park. To approve the proposed development would be to undermine the recently approved Neighbourhood Development Plan.
Development outside settlement boundaries
Policy DS1 (2), Development Strategy, sets out a list of exceptions under which development might be permitted outside the settlement boundary provided it also complies with relevant policies in the Development Plan.
After careful consideration, Westmeston Parish Council, agrees with DPC. It is felt this application does not meet any of these exceptions. Moreover, as Westmeston does not have a formal 'settlement', any new development in Westmeston would be on a rural exception site. This only intensifies the importance of maintaining the rigour of examining applications proposing to build outside of settlement boundaries.
Protection of the strategic rural gap
The protection of the strategic rural gap between Ditchling and Hassocks/Keymer is a specific objective (1.6.2 (IV)) of the Neighbourhood Plan. It reflects the concern expressed by residents in the questionnaire commissioned for the formulation of the Plan. CONS7 is the policy designed to protect the strategic rural gap. CONS7 was discussed in draft with and supported by the SDNPA during the early stages of preparing the Plan. A similar policy was included within the Hassocks Neighbourhood Plan, which signifies the widespread local concern about future erosion of this gap through development.
WPC shares the view with DPC that if an application for a dwelling within this area were to be granted permission this would over time lead to the inevitable destruction of the rural gap between Ditchling and Hassocks/Keymer. Such a permission would contradict the explicit policies and objectives of the Neighbourhood Plan, undermining and weakening its ability to help protect the gap from future applications to build as the rural land that constitutes the gap was progressively diminished.
Local Housing Provision
The proposed development is for a large single house on an enormous site which does not help to meet Ditchling's housing needs based on starter homes and affordable housing as set out in the Neighbourhood Plan.
Conservation of the historic and built heritage of the village
The rural landscape is the essential setting for the historic heart of the village which forms the Conservation Area. The proposed development directly abuts the Conservation Area. The development would neither enhance the character of the rural landscape nor bring any benefit to the local community.
The developer has argued that the proposed development is an outstanding, innovative design, environmentally sensitive and technically advanced. And so it may be. But the design is not the key issue. The site is of strategic importance in maintaining the rural gap and setting, the character and integrity of the village.
The proposed development flies in the face of the Neighbourhood Development Plan, its policies and its objectives. The application to build on this site should not be granted.
To approve the proposal would be to permit a development to irreparably change the character of the village at the expense of the local community and to the detriment of the future of Ditchling.
The proposed development should not be granted permission to be built.
SDNP/17/01358/FUL | Proposal for 40 space public car park to be constructed on a small agricultural field including provision for cycle stands x 3 No and partial removal and replanting of hedgerow at Keymer Road, Ditchling. | Land adjacent Pumping Station Keymer Road Ditchling East Sussex BN6 8TR
Although we realise this is in Ditchling we feel it may be of interest to everyone who uses the village for the Post Office etc..
SDNP/17/01024/FUL | Erection of cattle building and installation of earth-bunded outdoor silage clamp and farmyard manure store | Stocks Farm Spatham Lane Westmeston BN6 8XJ
WPC response 6th April 2017
SDNP/17/10124/FUL Stocks Farm
Westmeston Parish Council, having taken note of relevant facts and information in the interests of local residents in Ditchling and Westmeston, including the applicant, must trust the judgement and expertise of SDNP in reaching their decision arising from their Environmental Assessment. Westmeston Councillors are aware of the concerns of local residents in relation to traffic matters and the visual impact of the proposals. The Environmental Assessment should address these concerns.
In the absence of proven detrimental material planning considerations, Westmeston Parish Council supports the application.
I shall be grateful if you will acknowledge receipt of this message.
Christine Swan MBE - Clerk to Westmeston Parish Council.
SDNP/16/06360/HOUS 2 Hayleigh Farm Cottages
Proposal: Replacement timber framed garage and store
Closing Date for comments: 1 February 2017
Case Officer: Mrs Alyson Smith
This proposal is within the South Downs National Park. The application will be dealt with and determined by Lewes District Council, acting as an agent for the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA), unless it is 'called in' by the SDNPA
SDNP/16/05342/PRE Westmeston Farm: Conversion of farm buildings to 4/5 terraced houses with garages and landscaping.
This is a “pre-application” and no further information is available at this time.
SDNP/16/04770/FUL Old Cart Lodge Hayleigh Farm Streat Lane
Proposal: Removal of a former agricultural cart lodge and erection of a dwelling house with garden and two parking spaces
Closing Date for comments: 17 November 2016
Case Officer: Chris Wright
This proposal is within the South Downs National Park. The application will be dealt with and determined by Lewes District Council, acting as an agent for the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA), unless it is ‘called in’ by the SDNPA
Application refused Thursday 23 Feb 2017
SDNP/16/01023/LIS April Cottage. For the retention of PVC Conservatory
Westmeston Parish Council has examined the application and associated documents.
Due to the passage of time during which no evidence of objections from neighbours past or present is apparent, and that no discernable negative impact has been perceived, we have no reason to object to the continued existence of the development.
We therefore make no comment or statement intended to influence the Planning Officer’s decision.
update - Application refused.
SDNP/16/02270/HOUS Westmeston Farm. Replace garage and store. Re-build on original site, slightly larger footprint, for garaging and garden machinery store on ground floor. Roof space to accommodate farm office. No change of use. Improved materials.
Westmeston Parish Council has examined the application and considers that having made comment on the previously withdrawn proposal, there is nothing more to add. The decision is based on the new proposal being within the parameters previously agreed as having minimal impact on the neighbourhood.
LW/15/0895 Notice of Prior Approval for Change of Use At Land South Of Kidds Acre Farm Hundred Acre Lane Wivelsfield East Sussex (submitted 9 November 2015)
Prior Approval from AGR to Dwellings for Prior approval for building operations reasonably necessary to convert an Agricultural Building to a Dwelling House
At Land South Of Kidds Acre Farm Hundred Acre Lane Wivelsfield East Sussex
to be carried out in accordance with Plan and Application No. LW/15/0895 submitted to the Council on 9 November 2015.
SDNP/15/04972/HOUS |Submitted 22 September 2015
Demolition of existing detached garage building including farm office, and erection of a detached building with rooms above comprising garage and machinery store with self contained studio flat, home fitness room and a replacement farm office ancillary to the use of the residential dwelling known as Westmeston Farm, Westmeston Farm The Street Westmeston
Planning Applications SDNP/15/03104/TCA and 04042/TCA St Martin’s Church, Lewes Road.
These applications are a formality in dealing with works to trees in the church yard which is within both the SDNP and the Westmeston Conservation Area. The works have already been agreed with the appropriate Case Officer. There is no role for WPC.
Planning Applications LW/15/0688 and 0639 Land south of Kidds Acre Farm and known as Spring Farm, Hundred Acre Lane.
Submitted 27 July 2015.
These applications relate to the change of use of an agricultural building to a use falling within Class C3 (dwellinghouse) and the resultant design and building works.
An assessment has been made and WPC encouraged LDC to approve both applications subject to certain issues.
WPC has no further role to play.
LW/15/0639 was refused on a technicality. If it is re-submitted it will be reported here.
LW/15/0688 was granted 13 October 2015.