Parish Council News – April 2017

Annual Parish Meeting

Your Annual Parish Meeting will be held in the Memorial Hall on 22 May 2016 at 19:30. This is not a council meeting but a meeting of the parish electors that has to, by law, take place between 1 March and 1 June each year. Electors can contribute to the agenda and debate current issues in the community. There will be a presentation on protection against fraud and scams by the National Trading Standards Scams Team that will be helpful for residents. If you have any current issues that you believe should be added to the agenda please contact the Parish Council office during April.


Councillor Vacancy

We are still looking to co-opt a Councillor to represent the Ward of Five Ashes. Any interested candidates will need to forward their CV with a covering letter outlining why they think they would be a valued member of the Parish Council for consideration. Prospective Councillors will then be invited to attend a Parish Council meeting to introduce themselves and speak for up to three minutes before the decision on co-option can be made.

Wealden Local Plan Draft Proposed Submission

The number of new homes proposed in Wealden District Council’s new plan has been reduced since the previous consultation of their Issues and Options and Recommendations document in October 2015.

The Council’s Local Plan Sub-Committee at the meeting on Monday 13 March, agreed with the lower of two growth modelling figures after taking into account the results of the latest nitrogen deposition monitoring that has been taking place in Ashdown Forest.


The number of new homes to be included in the draft Proposed Submission Wealden Local Plan will be 11,456. As 7,392 of these have already been built or granted planning permission since 2013, the total number of new homes to be built by the end of the 2028 will now only be 4,064. The majority of housing will be distributed away from Ashdown Forest to the south of the District. The revised plan continues to provide the employment opportunity to support both existing housing and new homes so that fewer people have to travel outside of the District to work.


The Draft Submission will include 38,600 square metres of employment opportunities centred about the A22 which is already becoming an attractive location for new and growing businesses. New housing development will still be planned for towns and villages in the north of the District where resultant traffic can access Tunbridge Wells using alternative routes to the A26.


Three years of monitoring carried out in the Ashdown Forest Special Area of Conservation has shown that the amount of nitrogen deposition from motor vehicles is already exceeding levels that can cause ecological damage to the heathland. To meet national and international legal obligations, the Wealden Local Plan has to show that additional levels of nitrogen deposition linked to new development will not cause further damage. Natural England suggests that a further nitrogen deposition of below 0.1kg N to per hectare per year across the Forest will have a neutral effect on the heathland habitat.


The 21,000 new homes identified for testing following the Council’s earlier Issues and Options and Recommendations document would, according to the monitoring results now available, have led to an additional 0.19kg N/ha on average being deposited across the Forest each year, and possibly much more in certain locations.


The 2017 draft Proposed Submission document includes two housing scenarios. The larger one, proposing an extra 14,101 dwellings by 2028, would still result in additional average of 0.12kg N/ha/year. Only the lower housing number proposal of 11,456 homes keeps the additional nitrogen deposition rates at an acceptable level. This is the recommended approach. Even at levels of an additional 0.1kgN/ha/year average across the protected area, there is still the likelihood that some 700ha of Ashdown Forest’s 2,729ha of Special Area of Conservation could be affected by higher levels.

In view of this, the Council is looking to establish compensation measures to ensure overall levels of lowland heathland habitat remain unchanged. Until the compensation measures have been approved, any new planning applications within the District will need to show that they will not generate any additional vehicle movements in order to be considered for approval. This will not affect developments which have already been approved. Monitoring of the air pollution around Ashdown Forest will continue and there may be further adjustments if evidence suggests they are required.


No allocations for housing development are being pursued in Mayfield or Five Ashes. Under the Draft Proposed Submission document endorsed by the Local Plan Sub-Committee, the new lower housing numbers would be distributed across Wealden as follows:


Hailsham 2,420
Polegate & Willingdon 108
Stone Cross 833
Berwick Station 32
Ninfield 85
Horam 344
Heathfield 191
Wadhurst 51


The draft Proposed Submission document outlining Wealden’s growth proposals was also considered by a Joint meeting of Wealden’s Planning Committees. It will go to Full Council on 22 March. If approved, the document will go out for formal representations in early May. These representations will be taken into account to create a final draft document that will go forward to an independent Planning Inspector for Examination in Public later this year.

Food waste contamination

The levels of food contamination in Wealden’s recycling bins has risen to about 2.5%, which represents about half of all the contamination in the recycling bin. Although a small amount, it can be enough to result in the rejection of the whole 16 tonne load. Most residents are familiar with what goes in each bin – and this has been further helped by the free recycling stickers that were sent out to all residents before Christmas – but the problem seems to be with food waste left in some of the containers put out for recycling. This includes uneaten pizzas left in cardboard boxes, or takeaway food still in its metal containers. Items that should not be placed in the recycling bin include food waste, nappies, textiles, hard plastics (e.g. flower pots), polystyrene, bubble wrap and foil lined plastic pouches. Wealden’s residents are some of the best recyclers in the county, helping the District achieve an overall recycling rate of around 50%.


Save £££s on your energy bills

Households who took part in Council’s Big Wealden Switch 2016 campaign enjoyed an average saving of £279 a year on their domestic energy bills.

Some 198 residents decided to switch their energy accounts after receiving a no obligation offer following iChooser’s auction. The largest energy bill saving was of nearly £1,500 a year, and the combined saving for all those who took part in the Big Wealden Switch was over £55,000 a year. The collective bargaining power of lots of people like you is used by iChooser to get energy companies to try and under-bid one another to provide you with the cheapest tariff.

You can register online by visiting the Wealden District Council website and search for The Big Wealden Switch or key:

If you don’t have internet access, register by calling 01323 443322. You will need your annual fuel statement or recent energy bills to complete the process.

iChooser will then contact you by email or letter detailing your personal offer, remember to check your emails after the auction. If you like the offer you can accept and switch to your new supplier which is a fixed price contract for twelve months. As long as you are the bill payer you can take part regardless of tenancy or meter type. On average, switchers tend to save £200-£300.

The next auction will be held May 2017. Call us to register your interest for our next auction.

Local policing 

So far in 2017 there have been seven reported incidents of stolen Land Rovers in Lewes and Wealden. Six have been Land Rover Defenders and one was a Range Rover. On two occasions the stolen vehicles have been found abandoned in Surrey, one of the recovered vehicles was found to have had false plates fitted to it. If you own a Land Rover Defender please be vigilant.


Advice on using mobile phones when driving

It’s illegal to use a hand-held phone or similar device while driving a vehicle, or riding a motorcycle.

The rules are the same if you’re stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic.

It’s also illegal to use a hand-held phone or similar device when supervising a learner driver or rider.

You must stay in full control of your vehicle at all times. The police can stop you if they think you’re not in control because you’re distracted. This includes if you’re using devices like your sat nav or car radio.

When you can use a phone in your vehicle

If you’re the driver, you can only use your phone in a vehicle if you:

  • need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop
  • are safely parked

You could get 6 penalty points on your licence and a fine of £200. Your case could also go to court and you could be disqualified from driving or riding and get a maximum fine of £1,000. Drivers of buses or goods vehicles could get a maximum fine of £2,500.


The Parish Council office will be closed for Easter for the week commencing Monday 10 April 2017.