Proposals for a major housing development in Ringmer are due to be weighed by a planning inspector next week.
On Tuesday (January 9), a planning inquiry will begin an examination of proposals to build 70 houses on a greenfield site between The Broyle and Round House Road in Ringmer — a scheme from developer BoKlok Housing Limited which was refused by Lewes District Council in December 2022.
While recommended for approval at the time, the council’s planning committee felt the scheme’s design would be out-of-character with the surrounding area and be ‘unsustainable’ due to its likely dependency on private cars.
Similar concerns had been raised by local objectors, who also criticised the site for being outside of the village’s development boundary and for being contrary to the Ringmer Neighborhood Plan.
Many objectors had also criticised the overall level of development within Ringmer, arguing that the government’s housing targets were inappropriate and unachievable.
These housing targets had been a significant part of why planning officers had recommended the scheme for approval, as the council was (and still is) falling short of the figures set by government. In this circumstance, national planning rules set out that there should be a ‘tilted balance’ in favour of development going ahead.
At the time, officers warned these circumstances meant a refusal would likely be overturned at appeal.
However, the meeting had also coincided with a government announcement on potential reforms to the national planning system. Several councillors at the time argued these reforms, which were expected to ‘protect’ greenfield sites, could be in place by the time of an appeal. This has not proven to be the case.
The hearing itself, which is expected to last for two days, will be held at the Marine Workshops in Newhaven. The first session will begin at 10am on Tuesday, December 9. The inspector’s final decision is likely to be published a few weeks after the conclusion of the inquiry.
The proposed scheme is entirely made up of two- and three-bedroom houses; 17 of these two-bed and 11 of the three-bed houses would be affordable properties. It would also include the provision of open space, play space and ecology areas.