North Bexhill Access Road planning committee transcript, 11 February 2016

February 22, 2016 by combehavendefenders

This is the transcript of the Rother District Council planning committee meeting of 11 February 2016.  Combe Haven Defenders filmed and then transcribed the meeting. We’ve tried to make it as accurate as possible: […] indicates where we were unable to make out what the speaker was saying.

Committee members:

Brian Kentfield (chair, but ceded to Vice Chair because of declaration of interest)

Mary Barnes (vice chair)

Abul Azad

Gary Curtis

Patrick Douart

Robert Elliston

Anthony Ganly

Bridget George

Tom Graham

Joyce Hughes

Douglas Oliver

Sue Prochak

Emily Rowlinson

Gennette Stevens

James Carroll


All planning committee councillors are Conservative with the exception of Cllr Oliver (Independent) and Cllr Prochak (Liberal Democrat)

Also present

Jeff Pyrah – Development Manager team leader

Graham Parry – ACCON (air pollution expert)

Kal Pegler – East Sussex County Council Highways Department

Tim Hickling – Service Manager, Strategy and Planning

Councillors Earl (Ind), Hart (Con), Watson (Lab) and Hollidge (Con): not on planning committee but exercised their right to speak at the meeting


Declarations of interest:

Cllr Prochak – husband is chair of local Council for the Protection of Rural England

Cllr Carroll – member of Senlac Scouts

Cllr Earl – member of executive of Senlac Scouts

Cllr Kentfield – chair of Senlac Scouts


Jeff Pyrah:

As you’re aware, this application is for the North Bexhill Access road. Members visited this site on tuesday. Members also visited the site prior to the December planning meeting. In December we visited the Link road/Gateway road junction which is at one end of the proposed road, and Ninfield road which is at the other end of the proposed road, as well as the location of the proposed roundabout where the road will cross Watermill Lane. On Tuesday we visited Kiteye wood scout camp and viewed the site of the proposed road at the southern edge of the road.

You have the committee report before you. This considers the proposal as required by para 2 of the NPPF. This states that ‘planning law requiring the application of planning permission must be determined in accordance with the development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise. The NPPF must be taken into account in the preparation of local and neighbourhood plans and is a material consideration in planning decisions. Planning policies and decisions must reflect and where appropriate promote relevant EU obligations and statutory requirements. There is also an update to the report which is before you. This provides two objections received since the report was published and […]. These objections do not change the officer’s recommendation to you, which is to grant full planning permission. My presentation to you will summarise that report including the update.

The application site is characterised by rolling and well-wooded countryside with significant pockets of ancient woodland [shows map]. You can see the areas of ancient woodland highlighted in green. Within the planning application area there are two public rights of way. Buckholt Lane is a byway open to all traffic, you can see that on the eastern end running north-south. A public footpath crosses the site from below […] farmhouse, […] Watermill Lane here in the middle and crosses the Combe Haven stream, Watermill Lane crosses the site as well, north-south through the middle, and there’s a public footpath along the southern boundary of Kiteye wood which is here. There are no dwellings in the application site but there are isolated dwellings and farmhouses on both sides […] four listed buildings […] in red on this plan. One here, Preston Hall farmhouse and Preston Hall cottage […] and a fourth listed building here on the Ninfield Road.

If I zoom out, there are two SSSIs, both about a km away from the application site. You’ve got High Wood SSSI on the west, and you’ve got Combe Haven SSSI to the east. The AONB is to the north, you can see the bottom part of it, this pink bit up there.

The proposal seeks full planning permission for a new road between the Bexhill Hastings Link road and the A269 Ninfield Road north of Sidley. From down here, this is the link road coming out of Bexhill and the road would come through here to the Ninfield Road as it comes off Sidley. Roundabouts at both ends. Where it crosses Watermill Lane there would be a roundabout and that would be a pegasus crossing which is a crossing specific for horses and also that would provide a single crossing for pedestrians and cyclists. There’s another roundabout which would be on Buckholt Lane and that would also provide access into allocated employment sites allocated through the adopted Local Plan […] to the west. A bridge would go through the proposal over Combe Haven […] that’s here in the middle, and that would provide for a future riverside walk.

The proposal includes an ecological mitigation area, two dormouse bridges, two badger tunnels, two oversize culverts with badger shelf and dormouse cage, ecological ponds, two bat hopovers and a landscape masterplan […] planting of broadleaf woodland, […], scrub mix, extra heavy standard trees, wet woodland planted as whips, and that is all to mitigate for the ecological and landscape impacts.

I’ll just show you those roundabouts, that’s the Watermill Lane roundabout with the opportunity for a signalled crossing […] and that’s the Buckholt Lane roundabout which provides access from Buckholt Lane to the north and into those employment sites. [shows another map] This is indicative to show those employment sites which have been allocated through the Local Plan and also shows in the dotted lines potential routes for future footpaths and cycleways which will give the opportunity here to go under the clearspan bridge […] to provide an alternative route to go north onto Buckholt Lane.

The figures are quite hard to read but this is to give you some sort of feel of the land take and proposed landscape mitigation. The different colours tell you obviously the different types of landscape […] you can see around Watermill Lane for instance the treeplanting in dark green, a series of ecological and drainage ponds. […] This plan is to show the ecological mitigation area which is proposed within the red line. This is the link road here and this is an area of ancient woodland and the idea is to tie those ecological mitigation areas into that woodland to provide new habitat to compensate for the loss, I’ll explain a bit more about that later on.

There is in principle policy support for the proposal. Policy BX3 of the adopted Rother Local Plan plans for a country avenue […] accessed from the BHLR. The eastern part of the proposed road will enable the development of the existing primarily employment land allocations set out in the plan to be delivered. So you’re familiar with this plan, this is the link road, the BX2 site where Bovis want to […] you’ll see their application over there. The BX3 policy is this area to the west of the link road, three employment parcels and in yellow a residential parcel. The local plan proposed a cul de sac that would come in to access those sites, but at that time the local plan did talk about potentially increasing or extending that road through to Ninfield road.

The Core Strategy of 2014 plans for development to 2028, the next stage really, includes the diagram, indicative, to show the plans for future planned growth for the town. So you’ve got the link road which is the big red dots, in orange you have the NE Bexhill allocations both side of the link road, the gateway road now built, and you can see it plans for the road this application proposes in detail from the link road through to Ninfield road. In yellow that’s the potential […] for future development, mainly housing.

So to recap on that, the principle of the NBAR was considered in the Core Strategy and its sustainablility and appraisal process, and […] that determination was found to be sound in the overall context of the plan. It represents sustainable development and complies with Rother Local Plan […] policies PC1, OSS1, BX1, BX3 and PR1 [NB: not sure about all these letters] as well as the NPPF.

There are environmental implications for the new road and these are important considerations that have weight in deciding whether the new road should be granted planning permission. The environmental statement has been provided as part of the planning application. Consultation responses from the Environment Agency, East Sussex County Council, Southern Water, Natural England, our environmental health officers and our specialist air quality advisor support the findings of the environmental statement, namely that subject to the detailed and appropriate mitigation being agreed through planning permission, the development can be supported.

[14:02] Cumulative impacts. Objection has been raised that the cumulative impacts of the proposal have not been properly assessed. However, each chapter of the environmental statement considers the cumulative impact and the in combination effects of the proposal. The link road and the gateway street are already there, they’re operational and they’re part of the consideration. The transportation chapter and the noise and air quality chapters which use traffic flow data also consider the cumulative impact of the Queensway Gateway, its associated development, the NE Bexhill allocations and the adopted Core Strategy allocations which is the yellow area for housing, and a robust figure of 650 dwellings is used to base the traffic data on.

The Highway Authority – Kal Pegler is here if you have questions for her – advises that the objective is that the road will be a strategic road to support future growth, to provide access to other strategic links, to bypass Bexhill for longer journeys out of town and to alleviate existing congestion currently experienced on the A269. The Highway Authority advises there is little or no immediate increase in terms of likely traffic generation directly associated with the proposed road […], rather there will be redistribution of trips already using the network. However, while the road is not a traffic generator in isolation, its construction would facilitate new development, and with this development [..] routes would become more attractive to road users. […] it looks at the scenario in 2028 with the […] development, what would the impact be on the network. Objections have been raised on that basis that it impacts […] on traffic levels on Peartree Lane and St Mary’s Lane, I’m sure you’re aware both are northbound roads on the west of the town, and Watermill lane.

[16.10] On the other hand, there are some […] reductions on Sidley High Street where the flow of traffic would be lower in 2028 than existing flows are today. In relation to Watermill Lane, a petition and a number of objections including from the parish council have been made. It is the Highway officer’s view that the strategic network is likely to provide a more comfortable and convenient route. Concerns regarding increased traffic on Watermill Lane can be addressed with appropriate directional width restrictions and local traffic signage together with design […] to ensure that Watermill Lane […] design reflects its unclassified rural lane nature, and we can secure this through planning conditions. The Highway Authority’s view is that there will be [……….] to mitigate the traffic impact of future development but equally the considered design and provided in response to future development sites when these are identified and exactly where they are the road will be accessed from.

[17:17] It is considered that the proposal accords with adopted […] policy TR1 and the NPPF in these respects.

[…] Objection has been raised that the air quality will impact on ancient woodland. While there is no loss of woodland footprint, the emissions of vehicles using the road could impact on the ancient woodland. […] the NPPF when determining planning applications that local authorities should aim to conserve and enhance biodiversity by applying the following principles. Planning permission will be refused if the development will result in a loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitat including ancient woodland and the loss of aged or veteran trees outside of ancient woodland unless the need for or benefits of the development outweigh the loss, so that’s clearly a key consideration there.

[18:20] Planning practice guidance, national guidance, and the NPPF require local planning authorities to consider natural environments as well as human health in sustaining [air impact?] targets and objectives. The NPPF requires that planning policies and decisions must reflect and where appropriate promote the relevant EU obligations and statutory requirements. The environmental statement looked at the 2028 with development scenario, so including the cumulative effects, and uses 2014 emissions factors so they’re the most relevant and current vehicle emission factors and Graham [Parry] can explain that in a bit more detail to you.

[19:09] What it does show is that the NOx concentrations exceed the EC directive critical level of 30mcg/l2 [does he mean µg/m3 ?] on the edges of a number of ancient woodlands and this diagram will show you that. So if we start at the western end, this is called Kenwood, existing woodland next to Ninfield road. The area that’s hatched is part of the ancient woodland and that area would experience these higher levels above critical level. Similarly this is Kiteye wood, which we visited on Tuesday, this bottom slither here, 30m wide, would experience these higher levels. This diamond shaped wood, its northern tip, see there, that would experience these higher levels. And this area of ancient woodland here would also experience those higher levels.

In addition, in all cases, with or without the road, the nitrogen deposition critical levels would be exceeded but in no cases is the acid deposition critical level exceeded. The nitrogen deposition load throughout the woodland and the NOx exceedances on the edge of the woodland that I’ve shown you could have a significant impact on these locations. The environmental statement therefore assesses these areas of ancient woodland to understand their sensitivity to change. Surveys have found that they support sparse and species-poor assemblages of lower plants. There is no evidence that lichen species form an important component of the woodland and the species found which are most sensitive to increased nitrogen levels are also [most?] common. The county ecologist advises she accepts these findings, and because of the species present, these particular woodlands have a low sensitivity to atmospheric nitrogen and the […] of no signficant impact. However, she does advise that […] to mitigate for this […] to utilise at the margins of the woodland adjacent to the road […] and where possible the blocks of woodland are managed.

[21:45] As explained in the update an objection has been raised that should the council grant planning permission it will be in breach of EU legislation and air quality. The objector provides no legal authority directly on this point for that contention. There would be serious implications if an authority had to refuse planning permission in every instance where there was a breach of the critical level. The EC directive and the 2010 regulations refer to the protection of vegetation but make no further specification. However, the advice we’ve received is that the critical levels in the EC directive are a matter of convention and […] practice are […] to internationally designated conservation sites and SSSIs but not ancient woodlands. In addition, paragraph five of the government’s planning practice guidance advises that when considering whether air quality impacts are relevant to planning permission, consideration be given to whether the deposition or concentration of pollutants significantly affects a European designated wildlife site, or where it affects biodiversity, particularly, designated wildlife sites, and the ancient woodland is not those things. In any event, it is not accepted by the council’s legal advisors that the exceedances of critical levels mean that there is a breach of the directive or the 2010 regulations.

[23:09] The legal case referred to, which is the Client Earth case, refers to limit values and human health and not to critical values relating to ecological interest. Further, the client earth case relates to the UK government’s failure to secure compliance in certain zones with the limit […] adopted and set by the directive. The government issued its response to the court’s ruling last year using the latest air quality [..] December. The case does highlight the serious health concerns associated with pollution which the directive is seeking to address. […] stated aim of the directive […] article 1, is to maintain air quality where it is good and to improve it in other cases. However, it is important to note that the case does not deal with the determination of planning applications or the application of the AQ directive […] determination. The question for consideration, as set out in the general planning practice guidance paragraph 9 is whether the proposed development will lead to unacceptable risks from air pollution, whether it will prevent sustained compliance with EU limit values or national objectives for pollution or fail to comply with the habitat regulations which in this case, it doesn’t.

[24:17] Turning to the physical changes to the habitat, the proposal is expected to have a significant effect on some wildlife habitats. However, two for one replacement targets for key habitats will be met – I talked you through the various ecological features – and this will overcome the loss and fragmentation of habitats of value to bats, breeding birds, reptiles, badgers and dormice.

[24:40] Objection has been made about the impact on European protected species. In considering this application, the council has a duty to have regard to the requirements of the EC Habitats Directive […] 9.5 and the […] natural habitats regulations 2010. In this case, the effect on certain European protected species, and nationally protected species has been looked at in the report in the environmental statement, has been taken into account and mitigation measures provided for. Natural England has been consulted, and although it objected initially, did withdraw its objection. The council has also had regard to Natural England standing advice for protected species when considering this proposal, and in this case the county ecologist has reviewed the environmental statement and considers the surveys of protected species undertaken and mitigation proposed. She has provided expert advice on the impact on each protected species, as set out in the report, advising in each case where appropriate mitigation and […] the level of [….] is acceptable and the impacts can be mitigated.

[25:45] You will note that whilst some surveys have not been undertaken, the level of surveys provided, provided the application […] judgement in this case, is considered to provide […] with sufficient information to consider the likely effects of the proposals and the effects of the proposals on any European protected species, having regard to the Habitats Directive and any mitigation measures provided. Derogation licences will be required for any European protected species and the badger setts.

[26:15] Having regard to […] objection five, […] and the advice of Natural England and the county ecologist it is considered there is no evidence to suggest that proposed derogation licences are unlikely to be granted by Natural England in the future. In terms of the ecological impact, therefore – I’m summarising – the proposed development complies with Rother’s Local Plan core strategy policy EN5 and national planning practice guidance on air quality, paragraph 9, that I’ve referred to.

[26:47] In terms of human health impact on air quality, the district has no Air Quality Management Areas. Cumulative concentrations of nitrogen dioxide and particulates have been predicted for a number of worst case locations representing existing properties adjacent to the road network. Predicted concentrations are well below the EC directive objective at all of the existing receptor locations, taking account of the cumulative development. Our environmental health officers conclude no mitigation is required in this regard and that any predicted increases do not exceed national objectives, and ACCON UK also looked at this and they also advised that there were no predicted exceedances and therefore air quality impact should not constrain development.

[27:44] There are some other matters that have been raised by objectors I just want to talk through them, they are in the report anyway. A request has been made that planning permission be refused for the application until the applicant can show a viable business case. However, as set out in the report, there is a real strategy for providing that funding. The South East Local Enterprise Partnership has secured funding from the government’s Local Growth Fund to support economic growth and that partnership’s economic plan identifies this road as a driver for growth and it is reasonable to assume funding will be available. East Sussex County Council has agreed to provide SeaChange Sussex with £16.6m of funding subject to this permission being granted.

[28:28] The scouts have raised concerns regarding Kiteye wood, which we visited. The District Commissioner has indicated his preference for the installation of a 2.4m high fence on the southern boundary. However, it is the officers’ view that given the setback of the woodland from the road, and the existing footpath between the two, a post and wire fence together with appropriate planting would be sufficient to delineate the scouts’ site […]. Concern has also been raised by the scouts about the potential emissions from the road and the impact on human health. It is not considered that the predicted levels have an impact on human health. There is no fixed habitation or permanent accommodation at the site and scout troops visit for one weekend or one week at a time, maximum we believe of up to two weeks in any one year. Therefore ACCON have concluded that even the impact of the most exposed areas in the southern parts of the wood, and it’s a big area the scouts use, all of that area, even in the most exposed areas, human health would not be compromised.

[29:38] The owners of Kiteye farm have raised concerns about the loss and severing of their land and how it will make it difficult to farm effectively. The issues are discussed in the report and it is considered that the proposal is reasonable in this respect. The Campaign for Better Transport has raised a number of objections. In response, the core strategy plans for this road were part of the strategic level of planning, not just looking at this road in isolation. Any new development proposed, including that proposed in the strategic growth allocations, would be considered against our planning policies. Currently, policy TR3 requires new development to minimise the need for travel and to mitigate against transport impacts which may arise from that development or cumulatively. In addition, the council is working with East Sussex County Council on the Hastings and Rother Quality Bus Partnerships and also on a walking and cycling strategy for Bexhill.

[30:30] The Ramblers have also objected, that’s on the basis of the impacts on the rights of way which I’ve talked you through. The county council’s rights of way officer advises that they are satisfied that satisfactory and safe access to these routes and integration with the development can be achieved. I’ve talked you through some of the proposals for the two roundabouts in order to ensure […] It is considered the public benefits of this proposal outweigh any harm there may be to the temporary closure of these routes throughout construction.

Consultation responses have raised concerns that the proposed road would lead to increased greenhouse gases and adversely affect climate change targets. While it is recognised that provisions of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change […] 2015, […] the Paris agreement, create a commitment for all parties to reduce greenhouse gases, there is no indication at this stage of any change of policy which would affect the determination of this application. ACCON has advised on this matter and their estimate is that the emissions are insignificant when compared to international and Rother-wide levels and Graham can advise on that further if you have questions.

[31:42] Concerns have been raised about the validity of the emissions data used given the recent VW scandal. The […] have advised on this, and they believe and they do not believe the results will significantly increase the pollution concentration based on the prevelance of those specific cars in the overall fleet, and that can be discussed further if you wish.

[32:07] So in summary, in terms of its relationship to planned development, the road would enable the development of the existing primarily employment land allocation set out in the adopted local plan […], that’s the BX3 allocation. It would encourage the early takeup of that business land, both incorporating […] directly accessing it and by letting it between the A269 and the link road. By virtue of the above, it would help to ensure job opportunities can be provided to complement the planned housing in the town, which is central to our overall strategy for Bexhill. It will facilitate future development to the north of the town as provided for by the core strategy, without prejudicing reasonable options that will be developed and consulted on separately as part of the forthcoming development plans and site allocations. That plan will look at where these allocations may be. As I said, the whole impacts have been properly considered and the highways authority […] design. The financial impact has been properly assessed and officers support the findings of the […] consultees. Required mitigation can be ensured by planning conditions. There will be minor adverse residual effects once operational on habitats and fauna and landscape character and visual receptors […]. However, these are considered acceptable given the overall […] and substantial benefits of the road as set out. So in our opinion, the application complies with the […] 2006, in particular policies BX1 and BX3, with the north east Bexhill supplementary planning document and our core planning strategy, in particular policies OSS3, OSS4, TR1, SRM[N?]2, BX1, BX3, BM[N?]1, BM2, BM5 and BM7 as well as the NPPF and full planning permission should be granted subject to those conditions.

[Vice chair opens up floor]

Cllr Prochak:

Can I clarify one thing as a point of order? You’ve just indicated that the county council are actually, did you say, £16.6m funding, does that have implications for members who are county councillors?

[discussion about this: members of ESCC declare an interest].

Cllr Carroll:

We’ve heard about a lot of EEC rules and regulations about the [A]259, and the thing is, you understand about how it was before the new road came and that was a place where there was filth on the buildings, pollution was rife, and nobody done anything. Now we’ve done something it’s as if we’re being penalised some way. I think that Hastings borough council and Bexhill council and SeaChange and the highways have done a great thing by opening up the road and they’re trying to do more things. There is things that need to be looked at here but I think that the idea in whole is a good thing because we’re getting on and doing things and I think that we’re addressing that problem correctly.

Cllr Oliver:

Having read the report and the various dialogue that’s gone on, and taken views from residents also, they ask me the same question: Is there really a need? It looks like the cart before the horse to me because to be honest I can see the economic benefits of opening up this area but we’ve only just got Combe Valley road up and running, they haven’t started there yet, we’re a long way down the line, who knows what the economic forecast is going to be in the future, we’re making assumptions here. I don’t feel very comfortable, the fact is, with another massive road going through the town where we haven’t really felt there’s a total need for it.

I think we need to establish this, I think we need to get the fallout from north east Bexhill, making sure that the applicant SeaChange can get people in commercial activity, we should make sure that Bovis can sell the homes to people. The high speed link is a vital way of taking Bexhill forward but nobody has come up with the cash for that yet, it’s still a pipe dream. I really feel that this particular application is being hurried through, it came as an application, what, three or four months ago prior to consulation with the officers back in April, and very very quickly has come to committee for something that doesn’t give us immediate benefit. Perhaps just because the money’s available, well, who knows what’s going to be available in the future, perhaps this money could be well used by county in other adventures elsewhere. Residents ask the same question on this, because I’ve actually taken the ability to go out and speak to residents within Bexhill, and I do ask, is this the best use of public funds? Just because we can do it is no reason why we should do it. I would not support this application.

Cllr Hollidge:

I’ve come here today as cabinet member for transport and environment, wanting to give my support to this application. There are currently 38 million vehicles using our existing road network which in some areas and at certain times causes congestion and increases the journey time for people trying to access jobs. This will go some way to help reduce that. Our population is expanding at 0.8% per year and the demographics are changing. Nationally it’s becoming an ageing population and let’s celebrate that. Locally we are a mature, mainly retired, area in Bexhill currently, and those people with the skills to seek employment, haven’t […] often, in Bexhill, they have to make a long journey to access better areas with the correct jobs, causing even more congestion. The new homes and access to jobs and access to the new homes is an access to opportunity for our younger generation and it’s important that we provide for future generations and be seen to be doing so.

I’d like to draw attention to the planning committee and members of the public this document from the government which is the first cycling and walking investment strategy. Currently only 2% of the population cycle. The government in their manifesto before election aimed to double this. They’ve produced this document, which I can circulate, I’ll just read out two clauses from this. Number nine, by ensuring that cycling and walking are the first considerations in any new design or maintenance programme, we will ensure that our streets are safer for our most vulnerable road users. Places with walking or cycling at the heart will help to achieve our ambitions to tackle air pollution and climate change by reducing traffic. That is one important point that they’re trying to make and this scheme supports that. Delivering this ambition of the cycling and walking investment strategy is the primary remit for the Department for Transport, however this strategy aligns with many other government departments, of which one of them is the national air quality plan, and I could list them or you could read them yourself.

So to me, this scheme should be congratulated the officers and SeaChange and SELEP for creating a road at last that’s got a 3m walking and cycle route and right of way access onto that and the new development plans, before they’ve even been built they have right of way and access and I think it’s very good and very well done, a very good scheme, and it aligns with government policy so that’s what we need to do, with communities and everybody working together. This application that we’ve got in front of us should not be seen in isolation. The greater aim is that it should access other areas and be a continuous route. People are already using our existing Combe Valley Way and eventually we will see how that works out, but it has relieved the traffic, from my point of view on the A259. I haven’t got statistics but I can tell you I can get home quicker now. It aligns with other schemes and this scheme, without it, it’s like a link missing on a chain, my bicycle will not work. Without this vital link […] part of the greater whole. So I believe that it’s the right road, in the right place, at the right time.

Cllr Watson:

This road development I do fully support. Though I am a member for Sidley ward, there’s been some talk that it will affect the trade with Sidley. This is absolute nonsense, it will not. It will probably improve trade in the main street in Sidley. The road has two ways in which you come off, there’s two roundabouts where you can either go right or left and find a way in to Sidley, so it will have no actual effect. Blocking off, if we’re on the lane there, the second one in, again would not affect traffic flow or make traffic run. It will actually alleviate it because traffic will come in from the north, we’ll have those two choices, right or left, to go from that roundabout. So that is a very strong point to it.

Yes, we are thinking of the future. We don’t know what the financial situation will be, this is probably true, but it’s no good, the road is going in there first, the structure is going in there first, as has been explained by the councillor that’s just spoken, with access for cycles and suchlike which is absolutely better, it opens up the Combe valley itself. Now with the new road which we have, Combe Valley Way, in actual fact, that has actually improved times between hastings and bexhill, it’s been help for people getting to the hospital, getting into the play centres, tescos, you name it, it is a road in the right way. It takes you actually 15 minutes on the 21 bus to get from the town centre over to the supermarket there, you can be in there in 15 minutes. OK, you lose a bit of time when you start wandering round Hollington, but that’s immaterial. But it is a great improvement. I have been told by many many people that actually the Combe Valley way is a great access to it. And this road actually makes the connectability quicker, once you’re on that road you can go anywhere, and I mean anywhere, even onto the A21 if you’re going to London. It has absolutely opened the area up. What the future holds none of us really truly know, but we can hope that it will be and their dreams will come actually true. But this road is a way forward to do it. So that is where my stand is, I will say it as an elected councillor for Sidley ward, I am for the road and I will pass that out to this audience over here.

Cllr Ganly: I fully agree with Cllr Hollidge’s comments, I regard this road as absolutely essential to the development of north Bexhill. It is stated that the development is far too big, too many houses, too much business land. It should be remembered that when we prepared the core strategy central government wanted us, or set for us, a target much higher, we were able to negotiate with government and bring that level down for very valid reasons. It was accepted by government, indeed at the time we were the first and only council to have been able to reduce the target set by central government, so we are set a target by central government, we’ve agreed it, so whether you agree with it or not, it is a fact, and we as a law abiding organisation are obliged to follow the law. Moving on a little bit, we received in the papers today two further responses to the planning notice. The first refers to what I was just talking about, arguing that this development is just too big for Bexhill. The second argues that the applicant and/or council have failed to properly assess the cumulative impacts and effects from the proposal. It’s a pity that the objector doesn’t state why he considers that to be the case. Having very carefully read the full papers on this subject it is my view that officers have made an extremely exhaustive assessment of both the specific effects and the cumulative effects of this development.

Cllr George:

I’m hearing the comments that are being made both for and against the proposal. I’d like to get back into the immediate proposal and summaries and discussions that we actually have here and ask for clarification on some of the points that have been put before us in the report. I would like to know please, the ancient woodland and the issues that would appear to be emanating from this, what is the site width around that area and the closeness of the woodland to the site boundary, I’ll have it in metres please if you don’t mind. And looking at the construction period and the land take which will clearly no longer be required should the road be granted, is this going to be returned to vegetation afterwards, or what is going to happen to it? I thank the comment in 5.11.4 about the noise levels, I notice that has actually been recommended a condition would apply to that. A further point, 6.3, when we’re talking about the design changes on the roundabout to reduce the take. I have to say that if we have a very small roundabout there, will it actually still be safe and be an effective roundabout, I’ve a question on that. And the other one that I would like to question, with regard to the mitigation as far as the dormouse cage, the bat hopovers and culverts and badger shelves etc. Is it the view of the officers that this is going to be sufficient?

Jeff Pyrah:

The ancient woodland: there is a 15m buffer between the edge of the road and the edge of the woodland in all cases apart from this diamond shaped area of woodland where the edge of the kerb would be within 8m, so everywhere else would be 15, which is a common number which is often used. It is a bit closer there, and I’ve explained today and the report talks about how the route was looked at and designed […] they’ve got a whole range of factors to deal with, threading through countryside and woodland and at the moment it is a bit closer on that part, but having looked at that and considered it we feel this is appropriate and acceptable. That area of woodland, although it’s ancient woodland, is grazed by cattle, so it’s not virgin woodland, it’s quite robust and it hasn’t got […] these species we talked about at a lower level, so we feel that’s appropriate.

The applicant has said there’s potential, some opportunity in the more detailed design to pull that slightly further away from […] we feel it’s acceptable as it is. Land take, they need to take a certain amount of land to construct the road, for construction sites, that sort of thing, for sustainable drainage systems, but a lot of the land will revert back to what it already is, so a lot of that is agricultural, you can see here, this is once developed, so this is […] essentially putting that land back into agricultural fields, so that line there, that won’t be a physical boundary on the ground in the future, that line goes back, and then as I’ve mentioned, in order to ensure mitigation for the ecological impact, there are particular areas which is this area here [points on map], they’re the ecological mitigation areas which will be managed long term, which a condition would require to be suitable habitats as mitigation. So most of the land goes back, some of the land is kept for the right reasons.

The Watermill roundabout, the highways officer may say something on this, but it’s not going to be a tiny little roundabout, but in discussions with the applicant, they have put in some information on this, opportunities to reduce the size slightly, it’s very important, one of the reasons for having that there is it provides an obstacle you might say to slow the traffic down on the route. So there’s an opportunity to reduce the size but I think more importantly it’s about ensuring that the turn onto watermill lane, it’s clear when you’re driving through there that it’s a lane, you’ve got a main strategic route and you’ve got a lane coming off that and I think that’s the key, a key matter, from my point of view, we want to ensure.

Ecological crossings, yes, our advice is that that is sufficient.

Cllr Barnes:

Could you go into a little detail about the kind of barrier that will be on the boundary of Kiteye wood, which I think is something we talked a bit about at our site visit but it would be useful to know exactly how that’s going to be managed.

Jeff Pyrah:

So this is an issue that comes from the scouts, it’s quite right to say that at the moment their site sits off a rural lane in the countryside and there’ll be a change, there’ll be a road passing through the south, so there are opportunities for the scouts to run slightly free and to use that land […]. There’s concern that scouts might […] and get onto the road and the scouts have suggested that there should be a four metre mesh fence along that edge. My view, the view taken in the report is that that isn’t necessary […] in terms of its impact on the woodland, ecologically how that works, you want to have the ability for fauna to progress through there, there’s also a footpath on that south side anyway and we talked about, there’s a need for some scrub planting on that edge in order to mitigate the impacts anyway so that provides an opportunity to provide a more natural than a large fence, but some sort of post and rail style fence probably should be along there in order to delineate their site and that’s something that in the conditions we can agree.

Cllr Prochak:

This is a big project, a major new road. Having attended enquiries about roads and bypasses it seems quite difficult to have a proper debate about this one in this planning committee but we are trying and I’d like to thank the officers for the huge amount of work they’ve put into this. Cllr Hollidge has given us the bigger picture and I’m very glad that he can get home quicker now. All of the research I’ve read about new roads is that initially, great, the cost benefit is on the benefit side but then after a short time the cost and the benefit don’t pay off. Already, I’m sure it is quicker on the link road to the hospital, I timed both ways from where I live and actually I saved about four minutes by using the link road, and I thought, my goodness, that’s an expensive four minutes. And we remember of course how much the link road has escalated in cost. I’m not saying that is going to happen here, but what I’m saying is that the cost benefit is not clear at this stage, and of course there are going to be thousands of new houses which are going to be using the new road.

So we talk about the future, but I don’t think this is a 21st century solution to transport, I mean what a pity the county couldn’t have put £16.6m into Glyne Gap station which we chucked out of our core strategy, what a pity. Cllr Hollidge is happy with it because it’s got a cycle/walkway alongside it, but where do they go after that? Where do they go when they get onto the ninfield road? I’m not totally against roadbuilding as we’ve got a Robertsbridge bypass, if any of you remember when that was built, but that was to save an inhumane A21 going through a mediaeval high street. I’ve never heard anybody saying that Sidley wants a bypass, so perhaps it is part of a bigger plan. I can’t imagine shopkeepers, and I rely totally on Cllr Carroll to tell us this, but shopkeepers saying, Great, we’ll move the traffic out of Sidley high street. I don’t know, but I do know that when Robertsbridge had its bypass, the shops closed. So in all sorts of ways I don’t think that roadbuilding, in the bigger picture, is the right way forward for the future. There’s obviously the cost as well.

But my two points in terms of planning is that we say, as Rother district council, it’s in our core strategy so we go ahead with it. There are questions in the core strategy, and I don’t think I can support this at the present time because in our core strategy we do say that the scale, timing and location of the development will be determined at the site allocation stage. Well, we haven’t even got there, we’re about three years overdue with that one, the site allocation isn’t off the starting blocks yet. So I don’t know why we are doing this so ahead of our own core strategy statement which is […] site allocations. That’s my first thing: I can’t support it because I think it’s premature, that would be the main reason I couldn’t support this. And the other reason is that it’s not 21st century. I read yesterday that France are going to install 10,000km of solar power into their tarmac to create energy for millions of homes. We’re not even beginning to look at things like this that could actually think about the future. I know it’s Rother, but this is an opportunity to think about the future in a realistic way, about energy use, about transport use, about integrating transport, getting people out of their cars, all those issues that really should be looking to the future.

Cllr Elliston:

As regarding air quality, more and more people are using electric cars and I think in thirty years time we’ll all be using electric cars, I’m told the internal combustion engine is an endangered species so I think we can feel that the air quality will be improving […].

Cllr Graham:

As a member of the planning committee I thank you for giving me this opportunity to ask a question. I deliberately use the expression ‘ask a question’ because I would love to thank Jeff for what he’s done or thank […] for what they’ve done but I haven’t made my mind up because I thought that was my job this morning and I haven’t heard all the evidence so far. If I glean anything from this discussion, we seem to be talking about air quality, and I would like to take maximum opportunity of our experts here today and to ask them questions before we get too deep into our individual feelings, because I thought we weren’t supposed to prejudge, so how at the outset we can say we’re for it or against it, is actually beyond my understanding, but that could be my simple mind.

You’ve mentioned that in East Sussex, and we have an expert from East Sussex here, a representative, that it might be a more pleasant way to go, on this new road. It might be more comfortable for them and the air pollution wouldn’t be that signficant, in fact would be about the same if it went that way or if it went through Bexhill. Now if in fact that is true, I’m absolutely certain, on the fringes of Bexhill, it’s excellent for everything in the countryside, whether they’re animals, creatures or the air. If we have reduced the number of cars that are travelling through part of Bexhill or even part of the Rother area, and it is neutral, I really would like the experts to confirm that. What I’d really like for the rest of this discussion, at least at the early stages, is for us to ask questions, from within this group or for permitted speakers to ask questions and to desist from rushing everyone else because I just want the facts and that’s how I want to make my decision.

May the person, can they just confirm that that is the view from East Sussex and maybe I should just explain, possibly I should declare an interest because in the mid 80s my family regularly went to Kiteye and it was absolutely superb. When we went to Kiteye woods we were delighted to be going into the countryside, but we knew that the wood ended, we knew that if we went into the centre of the wood, if we went to the end, or indeed as parents we knew that, we looked after our children, we made sure they didn’t go too close to the edge, we stayed in the area and they were there, and we caused pollution but we didn’t think about it while we travelled there. I mean, I caused pollution when I drove down here this morning, I could have walked, but I think you need to get the balance between individuals and the effect on them and everybody else that’s part of the world. And I’m a little concerned that it might be better to go around the countryside and miss the town for quality of air but I’m equally concerned for the quality of air that may be slightly enhanced if less vehicles went through the centre of town. I’m also a bit confused, forgive me this is all relevant, if we are building schools in this area and in the area where we believe they’re needed and the parents of those children have got to drive further to take them to that school because that’s where the places are. That seems to me to be causing lots of extra pollution unnecessarily. Could we have an answer from East Sussex please?

Cllr Barnes:

Do you wish your question to be directed to East Sussex or to our air quality specialist?

Cllr Elliston:

East Sussex because I’m fairly comfortable with the information from the air quality expert, I’m not so, feel that I’ve got the facts, I’d like to hear from East Sussex.

Kal Pegler:

Is it possible that you could clarify the question?

Cllr Elliston:

Within the summary from our expert, Jeff in his statement made the observation that East Sussex said that if they travelled around and missed Bexhill, they went on the new link road, were it to happen, there would be no additional pollution because they wouldn’t be coming into the centre of Bexhill.

Kal Pegler:

I don’t think I mentioned the pollution issues.

Cllr Elliston:

No, Jeff did.

Kal Pegler:

I’m going to pass you to Graham with regard to pollution issues… Is it a traffic or a pollution question?

Cllr Barnes:

Can you ask a specific question of a specific expert please, councillor?

Cllr Elliston:

Yes, my specific question is to East Sussex. If the fact is, as a result of the new road, the air pollution will be neutral, it’ll just be in the countryside rather than in the town, how in this area if we got school places in other parts of Bexhill where the children have to travel, their parents have to take them to school, that’s my question.

Cllr Barnes:

I’m still a little concerned that we still haven’t got a question to one of our experts.

Cllr Elliston:

I’ll try for the third and last time then, otherwise the only other thing I wish to say is that for a period of time we ask questions rather than giving opinions because I thought that was what we were her for, to a degree, as long as people then have the opportunity to ask questions afterwards. East Sussex, can you look through your book, Jeff, would you say that it would be neutral air quality wise, that East Sussex have made that observation?

Jeff Pyrah:

I don’t think I said it would be neutral.

Tim Hickling:

Cllr Elliston, are you saying that the redistribution of the traffic is neutral because of the […] road, so is the question basically does the road generate more traffic itself?

Cllr Elliston:


Kal Pegler:

There is an east-west transition of traffic that currently has to go through Sidley, the A269, to get access to the Bexhill Hastings link road. In terms of longer journeys what the new road does provide is a way to get around the congested areas that there currently are, I think that was the point I was trying to make.

Cllr Elliston:

The point I was trying to make is that the traffic, if it goes around Bexhill, then it doesn’t bring that pollution into the centre of Bexhill. Yes or no?

Kal Pegler:


Graham Parry:

If I can assist on the air quality, essentially by removing some of that traffic from Bexhill means that pollution levels alongside residential properties, human receptors, will reduce somewhat. Clearly there will be pollution alongside the new road but there isn’t the preponderance of residential properties there so there is a net benefit in terms of reduction of pollution for people.

Cllr Elliston:

I’m satisfied with the answer.

Cllr Barnes:

Chairman of the council, you have a question?

Cllr Carroll:

It’s just to answer Cllr Prochak. In the early 70s I looked at this place to set up a business and I was told that what was coming was a road from Devon to Dover, another road going from London to Hastings, and we’ve been waiting for that for forty-odd years now. I started off with a child in my arms, now I’ve got great grandchildren. We have had some form of improvement and the lady here sitting next to me [Cllr Stevens], she came on the new road for the first time this morning, and did you enjoy it? [Cllr Stevens: I did]. Thank you, and the thing is, with the thing in Sidley and Robertsbridge, we’ve seen a decline, the road when they shut the bridges, it was a terrible thing, and me and Cllr Watson, we got flak, and we took the flak because we were told it would take 18 months. It overrun, these things do happen when you get involved in these sort of jobs, but now the people that were rubbishing it, they’re coming and saying, what a great road, and they’re saying that timesaving, with the thing with Sidley, we have gone down the downside and hopefully with the new rooftops that are coming in, people will be coming round and enjoying the village way of life. All the big companies, building societies, banks, all left us and we’re still standing there and we’re going, but we can’t thank Sidley for it, it’s the people who think on their feet that are in Sidely, and we’ve now got this thing where we have Lidl there, we’re attracting people that wouldn’t come to Sidley, they thought it was Beirut, and now they’re coming into Sidley and now we’ve got to work to get Lidl to come into the village. And also we used to have people coming down from Scotland and from Lincolnshire with their produce in the trade that I’m in and they stopped coming down because of the A21. Now that doesn’t promote our area and what we’re doing now is try to promote our area, which hasn’t been done for a long time. It’s not any government, it’s all governments since the second world war, they’ve talked about it but nobody’s done anything about it but now we’re doing something and I want to see it continue.

Cllr Earl:

I find it very difficult to […] all this, and listening to what Cllr Carroll’s just said, I totally agree, we should all celebrate the fact that investment in our area has gone up in the last five years but I am concerned that the residents that I represent are going through enormous change and not all of it will benefit those of us who currently live here. We have got to consider the business but we have also to consider the residents. In Little Common, Barnhorn Green, we have proposed 340-odd houses going to be built. I can see if this road becomes a quicker rat run to the A21 the people leaving Little Common roundabout will try to use Peartree Lane, and Peartree Lane already has numerous accidents where people meet oncoming traffic.

I’m also concerned about Kiteye, the scout camp. One of the reasons – and I declared my interest at the beginning – one of the reasons we have concerns about the children there was their safety as much as the air quality and everything else that went by there. There are some strange people in this world and the paramount safety of those young children is put in the hands of a few leaders and parents to go camping up there and thoroughly enjoy it. But if access off that road in the dark of a night is easy, they’ve got to be put at greater risk, and I think that was the reason we wanted this fence to be an obstacle, rather than to keep children off the road was to keep people from getting onto the site.

The actual impact on Sidley, I can’t honestly see that it’s going to make a huge difference to the amount of traffic that goes through the village. People who are going to use the village will come in there for its services. If it is safer, cleaner and more accessible, we can only hope that that will increase trade. But I am concerned that the current road system doesn’t enhance anything for future growth, it actually puts people off coming to live here. And if we do get all these houses, I would think that most of the people here that are currently representing their wards and whatever will be long gone by the time all this work is completed, because there isn’t anything on the ground at this stage that has any signs of being completed in the next three or four years. Jobs will not come until the houses are there, and the houses will not come until the jobs are there, and only this week we heard that there are major discussions about the university in Hastings. There are so many elements for making the economy improve here. If the education doesn’t stand up, the jobs will not come here, the well paid jobs won’t come here, we could end up with a lot of warehouses that actually don’t employ a lot of people. But I am concerned that the ward I represent will become a rat run to get to this road and then on to the bypass and the A21, and the impact on the people of Little Common will be huge.

Cllr Barnes:

Jeff, I wonder if you could address the question of the new route becoming a rat run, and also the significance of Watermill and Peartree and the traffic?

Jeff Pyrah:

I’m going to ask the Highway Authority to give detailed advice on that. Overall there’s two points here, one is about the road itself if that’s built and the traffic on it, and the situation as planned in our core strategy, the 2028 scenario as it’s called in the […] statement, which is when that development is all in. It’s that additional development that potentially the figures might cause some impact on that road and its mitigation in relation to that development will need to be considered at that time. But I’ll pass it over to the highway authority.

Kal Pegler:

In terms of the Peartree Lane and St Mary’s Lane issues, they were addressed in our report. They […] country lanes […] much of the length of them they are single track so there are passing places, they don’t tend to be attractive routes unless it’s a quieter time of day generally, and they tend to have a threshold in terms of volumes of traffic they attract, so if you do use the lanes and it’s not convenient because it’s taking longer than using strategic routes, then people tend to not use them, there’s a sort of self-deterrent. As Jeff said, the 2028 scenario with development, with the 650 houses, it has shown in the model that there would be an increase in those lanes and we have some funding from SELEP that is allocated to improvements to junctions and facilities that could be used if that occurs once those applications come forward. Those will be reassessed at the time because as soon as these […] comes forwards, they will need to submitted to planning applications.

Cllr Oliver:

Another point has come about as a result of what Mr Parry…you mentioned pollution, and immediate harm when the road is there, they’ll still build houses, presumably residents will get pollution as the houses are built so […] but there will be. My view is on timing: is it the right time? And on timing, I’d like to get on to cost. The figure of £16.6m that was thrown up, is that the cost of this road? And are they using the same formula that they used for the Combe Valley road, which was £45m in 2009 and ended up as £120m. Is there a formula that they use that they build in these additional costs, so are we looking at £16.6m as a cost for the North Bexhill Access road?

Jeff Pyrah:

I believe so, I haven’t got the figures for that, but if you look at the documents from SELEP it gives a range of costs and it’s within that ballpark.

Cllr Oliver:

So am I right in saying they must use the same formula they used in 2009 when county indicated that the link road was £45m and we ended up with £120m of costs, so we can actually forget £16m, it could be thirty or forty million. Because if we’re looking at a road that’s half the distance of the link road, £16m would be good value, why didn’t we […] we’ve obviously missed a trick. It’s an awful lot of money and we’re told from every quarter of austerity and cutbacks and here we are throwing out through SELEP, whoever they might be, taxpayers’ money on a road that the timing is not ready for it yet. Let’s demonstrate the timing, let’s get everything up and running in Bexhill, attract the residents, attract the employers, before we start embarking on yet another major cost project.

Cllr Hart:

I think it’s very clear from listening to everyone speaking here today that there’s obviously a real economic aim for all of this to be implemented. And what’s very clear to me is that the primary objective of Rother district council is to improve the lives and the future prospects of residents of Rother. It’s not just to improve the lives of the people of Bexhill and Sidley, this entire project will have an impact on Hastings as well. In order, looking into the future, to secure the longterm regeneration and economic development and Hastings and this whole area that matter is dependent on radical improvement in infrastructure starting with our roads and development of homes and jobs. This is part of the long term plan in order to secure our future in this area in that respect. We must build some foundational structures on which everything else can be built, that’s residential homes, jobs. It’s very important for us to sustain Bexhill, Hastings and the surrounding areas, to encourage people to move in here, have jobs, for families to come and move in, to sustain our economy and our way of life here. All the issues regarding air pollution, the environmental concerns and so on have been carefully considered by experts and officers involved in this project and steps can be taken to mitigate all these. I am absolutely impressed by Jeff Pyrah and his team’s work put into this, I’ve been on a site visit last year, the thought that goes into it, the completely different way of looking, a whole new modern way of thinking, of building big, lovely roads with cyclepaths, walkways, development, residential homes with green areas, it’s absolutely fantastic and I commend you very well for that.

Cllr Watson:

I absolutely happily agree with the last statement that’s been made by the last councillor that spoke. It is the future plan for this area, it is regeneration and the road is one way towards that. The road is the same as the Combe Valley Way, that was a way, it’s a way of the Gateway road that has been built and we’ve already got one person in there already and hopefully there’ll be more to follow. We’re looking for the future, we’re not looking actually at this moment in time, OK we do have the worries which are […] to our residents and that’s been said by my learned friend over here. That is right, I mean there are concerns, of course there are, there are concerns from the west side of Bexhill, there will be housing development along there which has its many many problems, which is recognised, but we just have to start somewhere, chairman, and this road, I honestly do believe is one of the starting points of the Combe Valley way and the rest, is definitely a starting point for the future of Rother, I say Rother and I underline that fact because it is a lot of effect on Rother because we do have a lot of travel that actually, people do actually even come into Sidley from the Rother area to shop at Lidls. So let’s just get real, I mean most of the stuff that’s been said, yes, there are financial problems in the future, course there is, there are financial problems at the moment, we are living in very very terrible times. But if we don’t, we can’t just stand still, as a council or as people, we can’t just stand still because of mistakes that were made outside, entirely outside of our control. This is the time where we actually start to move ahead. This road does that.

Cllr George:

Listening to everything that’s been said, I still have some questions before I make a decision as to what my view is, I have to say I do feel it’s appropriate that we do need to look at the future, whether this is necessarily appropriate times, that’s something else, I understand Cllr Earl’s views with the concerns about use of Peartree Lane and St Mary’s Lane, I use St Mary’s Lane a lot myself to get out of the town. However, we must make sure that we don’t lose track of the concerns of the current residents who could be directly affected by this road, in particular the owners of Kiteye Farm, which is point 6.86. They are going to have a problem. I appreciate you’ve done a considerable amount here to try and mitigate that for them, is there anything further that we feel that we could do to actually ensure that they aren’t trying to stop the traffic by driving cattle across the road, is there a different method by which they could access both parts of their land on either side of the new road, do you have any views on this?

Jeff Pyrah:

What I would say is that the applicant met with the Kiteye farm on a number of occasions to discuss this, and that was before the application came in, and for instance the […] access that’s shown on the plan […] address the issue of severance of the land. So we feel that they understand the issues and that what they’ve done is reasonable.

Cllr Carroll:

A question to Cllr Earl, we do not want people to use the place for storage, we have a place called Sidley goods yard which has now become Elva Way, and what they’ve done there, they’ve done an incubator thing which has started up a lot of businesses in the area and they’ve grown and this is a good thing and the other units that are there are well occupied and they’re looking forward to more being down there, but this is the thing, if we’ve got the things there the people will come, and we’ve done everything especially with the broadband, we’ve done it belt and braces, we’ve got it in Hastings and we’ve got it in Bexhill, we can’t go wrong. And I think there’ll be a lot of companies looking at our area and […] is a brilliant one, and I hope we get more of them.

Cllr Ganly:

The question of prematurity has been raised. I think the regeneration of Rother and in particular north Bexhill and this road, it’s rather like a jigsaw, you’ve got a hundred different items to consider or more, and they all interlock. One can’t move without the other, you cannot just say, well we’ll delay that one because we can do something else in the meantime, we don’t need to give planning approval at the moment because it’s not required today. Well actually in order for the whole regeneration programme to move forward you have to address the issue of planning permission and I don’t think it’s premature in any way to submit the application now.

Cllr Azad:

There’s been a lot of discussion about the issue […] Jeff for all your hard work. I look at Brighton, it’s so much opened up, people come to Brighton for work, […] we need to open up the area, we need that. And the bypass […] ten minutes to the other side of the A21 […] the future.

Cllr Graham:

I also represent the people from Little Common and before I had the opportunity of representing people from Little Common a decision was taken in outline form to put some extra houses there. Ever since I’ve been here, Peartree Lane has been a rat run. If you have the local knowledge and there’s a rat run there, unless you close it, people will use it. People will use the rat run to take themselves to the new road that’s already happened. I come back to where we are today, I’m trying to make my mind up whether I think it’s appropriate for this new road. Seems to me I’ve got two legs and one arm and I haven’t got my second arm.

Cllr Prochak:

When Jeff did his rather long and rather complicated and detailed introduction, I know he was addressing one of the issues that has been put on our desks as we came in this morning which was from Richard Buxton environmental and public law, which basically says we remain of the view that the council’s decision is unlawful and we are instructed to issue judicial review proceedings. I would like to know about the response to that. I think the officer is saying that we’ve addressed everything perfectly well and we’re not in danger of judicial review. I have to say that Rother usually errs on the side of caution if we’re challenged by judicial review. I would like a response to that.

Cllr Barnes:

There is a response on the back of that sheet.

Tim Hickling:

It’s on the update. Just for the benefit of the public, this information […] yesterday not this morning.

Cllr Barnes:

I’m not certain, Cllr Prochak, what more you want out of the […]

Cllr Prochak:

What I want, is that we’re not going to be faced with judicial review.

Jeff Pyrah:

We can’t prevent someone seeking to challenge a decision and this objector has pretty much set out their stall on that and we’re aware of that and I’ve spent a lot of time speaking to our lawyer and to an external barrister over the last few weeks in order to be confident we could take this to this committee properly and that’s what we’ve done. You’ll be aware […] December, January and we as officers decided to pull it and part of the reason for that is that we felt we needed some more time and we needed to look at these issues and ensure that we gave you all the information and obviously we now feel we can do that […] and that’s in your update.

Cllr Ganly:

If there are no further questions I would move […]

Cllr Barnes:

Have we got a second? [Cllr Graham indicates] Is there anything further anybody would like to ask either of our two experts, any element of doubt about anything you’ve heard that you’d just like further questions about?

[Vote: 13:2 in favour, with Cllrs Oliver and Prochak voting against].

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