11. BATTLE

11.1.

Context

Battle is a small historic town of some 6,100 people situated within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, some 6 miles north of Bexhill and 6 miles northwest of Hastings. It lies on the A2100 approximately 3 miles from the A21 London- Hastings road and Battle station lies on the main Hastings-London Railway.

11.2.

The town centre forms the historic core. It consists mainly of the High Street, which has not been developed in depth. It is dominated by the Abbey, built to acclaim William’s victory in 1066, but also contains many other listed buildings. The area was designated a Conservation Area in 1970. The historic battlefield site, which extends to the south of the Abbey, is a protected heritage site. To the north-east lies National Trust land and other land visually exposed in the countryside.

11.3.

The town centre is also the commercial heart of Battle, catering not only for local residents and those of the surrounding area, but also the many visitors attracted by the town’s heritage.

11.4.

Being situated astride one of the principal High Weald east-west ridges, the town has grown up in a linear fashion. Development has extended over time along this ridge and the spurs, notably that connect to Caldbec Hill and along Marley Lane. The rate of development has been erratic, with greatest growth of 400 dwellings between 1981 and 1991.

11.5.

The present pattern of development, having the appearance of a dumbbell when viewed in plan, means that movement around and across the town is channelled through the centre. As well as local traffic, there is also through traffic on the crosscountry A271 and the north-south A2100. Traffic is exaggerated by inadequacies in the A21 and A259 around Hastings and Bexhill. The net effect is regular traffic congestion, as well as harm to the historic character and environment of the town centre.

11.6.

It is recognised that a key benefit of proposed improvements to the A21 (see Section 8) will be the removal of inappropriate and unnecessary traffic from Battle. Also, a new parkway station at Wilting Farm (see also Section 8) would take the pressure off Battle railway station.

11.7.

Pedestrian links through and around the town are relatively good. However, suitable routes for cyclists are poor. There is a need for safe cycle routes, particularly between Claverham Community College, the High Street and the larger housing estates.

11.8.

For its size, Battle is well provided with a wide range of shops, services and community facilities. It functions as a service centre for surrounding villages and there is a significant amount of employment provided in the town centre. Elsewhere, the only business/industrial area is near the station, with further employment out of the town along Marley Lane. Employment policies for sites on Marley Lane are to be found in Section 9.

11.9.

A further factor in relation to any future development is the capacity of local services, especially both primary and secondary schools.

POLICY BT1 View Map of this site ?

Proposals for development and change in Battle should be compatible with and, wherever practicable, contribute positively to the following objectives:

  1. to maintain its historic, small town character;
  2. to protect the historic core and its setting;
  3. to conserve the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty landscape setting;
  4. to enhance the commercial and tourism attractiveness of the town centre;
  5. to minimise the demand for cross-town vehicular traffic;
  6. to maintain a substantial open countryside gap to Hastings.
11.10.

Planning strategy for Battle

It is necessary to marry these objectives with the requirements for new development and principles for a sustainable distribution of development, as set out in Section 4.

11.11.

The location of development should respect the town’s close relationship to landform and landscape setting. To the south-west, south of Hastings Road, lies the strategic gap between St. Leonards and Battle. If developed, much of the land that surrounds it would severely detract from the fine setting of historic Battle within the attractive landscape of the High Weald, which is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. These are critical factors constraining further growth. Any extension of the ribbon development needs to be resisted, although the development boundary is drawn to include the consolidated built-up frontage along Hastings Road (A2100).

11.12.

It is concluded that, notwithstanding the relatively good services and facilities, because of the topography and other over-riding constraints, the growth potential of the town is fairly limited.

11.13.

The Blackfriars area is seen as the principal location for future growth. Land in this area lying between Marley Lane and Hastings Road has been earmarked for housing development for some 35 years. It is still considered to be the most appropriate location, subject to the inclusion of a new primary school to ensure that it is also sustainable in transport terms, and the retention of large open areas that will create a permanent “green lung” extending into the urban fabric of the town and, hence, provide amenity for the development and the wider area.

11.14.

The sensitive redevelopment of the garden centre site and land to the rear in North Trade Road would enable a predominantly brownfield site to provide additional homes on the west side of the town, but still within the generally built-up area.

11.15.

Proposals for these sites are set out below. Elsewhere, the development boundary for Battle is drawn tightly around its main confines, as shown on Inset Map 2. The policy for the Strategic Gap is to be found at Policy DS5 in Section 4 and is shown on the Proposals Map.

11.16.

Land at Blackfriars

In 1967, East Sussex County Council’s Battle Draft Town Plan notated a part of the area for residential use and a part for industrial use. In 1972, it published the informal Battle Town Plan and Town Centre Map on which parts of the Blackfriars area were also shown for residential development.

11.17.

In 1975, Rother District Council published the Blackfriars Site, Marley Lane, Battle Design Brief. The brief indicates land for residential development, possible primary school site, possible local community centre, possible children’s home and open space. Both the Consultative Draft (1995) and Initial Deposit (2001) versions of the Rother District Local Plan show land for development within the Plan period and beyond the Plan period. Notwithstanding this background, only a relatively small part of the area has so far been developed.

11.18.

Some 90% of the Blackfriars site is bounded by development, with semi Natural Ancient Woodland bounding the remainder. Any development would need to respect the setting of adjoining Listed Buildings and an attractive group of farm buildings to the north-east.

11.19.

Two areas suitable for development are shown on Inset Map 2. The density of development will be at least 30 dwellings/ha. At least 220 dwellings would be accommodated of which 40% are to be ‘affordable’. A key theme to the development of the area would be to keep the most prominent land, the steepest slopes and the copses free from development for informal public open space. This would provide a very usable ‘green lung’ to the development and help assimilate it within the wider landscape of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

11.20.

The Education Authority has indicated the need for an additional primary school to serve the growth of the town, and a new primary school on this site would give a locational balance to provision. It is expected that this will be phased in as development progresses.

11.21.

With a development of this size, land will need to be provided for a children’s play area within or adjacent to the housing allocation and developer contributions sought.

11.22.

Bearing in mind the proximity of the site to Battle railway station, the provision of a pedestrian link across the railway to the station entrance would be a potentially important element of the site’s accessibility and would be more direct and convenient than the present route via Marley Lane and the level crossing. Within the area adjacent to the railway a small element of B1 office-orientated use may be considered in lieu of some of the housing allocation.

11.23.

A spine road will link Hastings Road (A2100) with the ‘C’ class road, Marley Lane. This spine road was envisaged in the ‘Blackfriars Site, Marley Lane, Battle, Design Brief’, and has been constructed in part at both ends. However, a Transport Assessment will be required because of the size of the development and is likely to entail the developer contributing to the improvement of the off-site junction of Lower Lake (A2100) and Marley Lane (C Class Road).

POLICY BT2 View Map of this site ?

Land at Blackfriars, Battle, as defined on the Proposals Map, is allocated for housing, education and open space purposes, to be brought forward through a comprehensive scheme.

Two areas, totalling approximately 7.3 hectares, would be allocated for residential use, providing at least 220 dwellings (40% of which would be affordable). Other land between the two areas for residential development is allocated for a single form entry primary school and to provide a large area of open space. The development will be accessed by a new spine road, from the south from Hastings Road, off The Spinney, and from the north via Harrier Lane off Marley Lane. A Transport Assessment will be required.

Developer contributions will be required towards both primary and secondary school provision and to provide for a children’s play area on land adjacent to the housing allocation. In addition, developer contributions will be required to secure the provision of the spine road and other accessibility improvements. The pedestrian link across the railway is subject to further detailed examination of its viability and, if necessary, developer contributions for its provision will be required.

11.24.

Land north of North Trade Road

Approximately half of the site, lying on the north side of North Trade Road, is currently in garden/nursery use and the remainder is unmanaged grassland. It is bounded to the west by Frederick Thatcher Place (formerly Battle Hospital) and now a Listed building. To the east, the site is bounded by existing housing development, while to the north lies established woodland. Because of the topography, development would be well hidden from distance views. The former hospital is perceived as the start of the more built up part of the town and, hence, should be defined as the eastern extent of the development boundary for Battle. This site is on the “town side” of the hospital.

11.25.

Great care will need to be taken in the design of the development. As well as protecting the setting of the Listed Building, there is an opportunity to enhance it. It will therefore be necessary for development to be well set back from North Trade Road, as well as keeping a clearance from the former hospital building itself. The land falls away quite sharply to the rear of the site, hence, care will need to be given to the grouping of buildings and provision of vehicular access. The total development area is nearly 0.8 hectares.

11.26.

The access would require the provision of a footway along the existing frontage to connect with the footway that finishes outside Beacon Cottage. It would also require the provision of pedestrian crossing facilities to allow easy access to Claverham Community College. Developer contributions will be required towards both primary and secondary school provision.

POLICY BT3 View Map of this site ?

Land north of North Trade Road, Battle, as shown on the Proposals Map, is allocated for housing. Approximately 30 dwellings would be provided (40% of which to be affordable) with access to the site from North Trade Road. Development should be well set back behind the building line of the former hospital and with a clear separation alongside it. Developer contributions will be required towards both primary and secondary school provision in addition to contributions towards footway improvement and pedestrian crossing facilities.

11.27.

Town Centre

It is not considered that there will be a need for significant new retail floorspace over the Plan period that would warrant a shopping land allocation. Any further retail development is expected to be contained in the ‘main shopping area’, in accordance with Policy EM13. The boundary of the main shopping area is shown on Inset Map No. 2a.

11.28.

It is no longer considered appropriate to seek to provide a rear service road to commercial premises to the west of the High Street or to provide a new vehicular access to Battle Abbey. Visitor numbers should be increased only as far as is compatible with maximising use of the existing car and coach parking facilities and encouraging greater use of public transport.

11.29.

The central historic core of Battle, together with the historic battlefield of the Battle of Hastings forms Battle Conservation Area. Policies in respect of these are found in Section 4 and PPG15, and the Conservation Area is identified on the Proposals Map.

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