13. VILLAGES

13.1.

Villages are a key component of the pattern of development in Rother District. To varying degrees, they face issues of the lack of affordable housing for local people, pressure on local services, sometimes leading to their loss, and limited accessibility, including to job opportunities. 

13.2.

The Council fully recognises these issues and the policies it puts forward in this Plan for affordable housing in Section 6, for community facilities in Section 7 and employment and shopping in Section 9 are designed to help address them.

13.3.

The general approach to development in villages forms part of the overall spatial strategy developed in Section 4 and by Policy DS2 specifically. 

13.4.

An appraisal of all villages has been undertaken as part of the preparation of this Plan in order to establish the appropriateness of existing development boundaries and the potential for additional development. This had full regard to national planning policy guidance as well as the considerations for determining the scale and nature of change in villages contained in Structure Plan Policy S8, together with the additional factors in Policy S9.

13.5.

As a result of that appraisal, several relatively modest allocations are put forward for housing, two being part of mixed use proposals. In total, these provide for some 188 additional dwellings, equivalent to 15% of the total number of dwellings on housing allocations in the Plan.

13.6.

Aside from Rye Harbour, considered in the previous section, the villages where development allocations are made are: Burwash, Fairlight Cove, Flimwell, Northiam, Robertsbridge, Etchingham, and Westfield. The allocations are elaborated upon below.

13.7.

Some development is also anticipated within the development boundaries of other villages. In fact, a further 26 villages have defined development boundaries as shown in Policy DS3 in Section 4. However, developments in these will be generally quite small scale. This does not preclude the possibility of occasional larger proposals where they meet general development criteria, notably at Policy GD1.

13.8.

All housing allocations, as well as residential developments of windfall sites, will also need to comply with Policy HG4 and other relevant policies.

13.9.

As indicated in Section 4, the Plan’s provisions will mean that the overall amount of development in villages over the Plan period will be notably less than has been the case in the past, while a greater proportion of this will be targeted at meeting local needs.

13.10.

Burwash (Inset Map 8)

Land off Strand Meadow

The site allocated for residential use is relatively hidden from the wider landscape, nestling on the side of a narrow valley that runs in a northerly direction from the main ridge upon which the village stands. The land is on a steep gradient, which slopes down to a ghyll on its northern boundary, and it is the lower part of the land that is considered suitable for development. The steep slope and most elevated part of the site on its south-eastern side are relatively exposed and should remain undeveloped. This land will be landscaped and planted with appropriate native species in conjunction with the residential development to screen the development and to soften the horizon of the new and existing development. The total area of the allocated land is some 1.7 hectares of which 0.6 hectares would be for housing to be laid out along one side of an access road.

13.11.

Access to the site will be gained via Strand Meadow. It will be necessary to look at rationalising parking along the road and improve the appearance of the highway. Due to the existing number of dwellings that the road currently serves, the Highway Authority recommend that no more than 17 dwellings should be built on the site.

13.12.

Adjacent land north of the existing recreation ground has been allocated for recreational and amenity space. There is an identified shortfall of open play space within the village and therefore the use of this land for recreational use adjacent to the existing play space in the village is sought. There should be local consultation on how it should be laid out. A footpath linking the development with Strand Meadow, the existing recreation ground and Ham Lane will ensure that the recreation facilities are more readily accessible to the development and a larger proportion of the community.

POLICY VL1 View Map of this site ?

Land south west of Strand Meadow, Burwash, as shown on the Proposals Map, is allocated for housing and recreational purposes. Proposals will be permitted where:-

  1. no more than 17 dwellings are provided, of which 40% are affordable;
  2. an appropriate planting scheme is carried out at the time of the development to landscape the land between the new housing and dwellings in Rother View;
  3. a footpath is provided to link the new development to the existing recreation ground and Ham Lane;
  4. land set aside for recreational purposes is appropriately laid out and provision made for its subsequent management and public access;
  5. both residential and amenity/community uses are progressed in tandem;
  6. developer contributions are made to provide for highway improvements in Strand Meadow to improve access conditions.
13.13.

Etchingham (Inset Map 13)

Land north-west of Etchingham

The Education Authority advises that the existing school, which lies outside the immediate confines of the village at Burgh Hill, is a priority school for replacement, and that the existing school site is not suitable principally due to the size constraints of the site.

13.14.

Also, the existing village hall is substandard both in construction and size, built of prefabricated materials and having been in existence since the beginning of the last century. The Parish Council is looking to replace this, as well as to provide further recreation facilities. The village is recognised as falling well short of the National Playing Fields Association (NPFA) minimum standards.

13.15.

The "Lambing Field" has been identified as being most appropriate to accommodate a mixed form of development comprising a new school, village hall, some recreational facilities and an element of residential development to enable the community uses to come forward on the site and to contribute to the need for affordable housing. The adjacent field to the east, known as the former "cricket field" is suited for playing fields.

13.16.

The northern parts of the land, which are more elevated and exposed, should be kept free of buildings.

13.17.

The south eastern part of the site could satisfactorily accommodate the school and village hall in a combined building and, to the south west, there is sufficient land for at least 15 new dwellings, 40% of which would be affordable.

13.18.

It is proposed that, as the extension to the village is justified by the need for community facilities and to enable the recreational facilities and village hall to come forward, the housing element should be tied to the community facilities proceeding.

13.19.

The whole scheme will be required to be implemented to reinforce the landscape framework changes to the village and provide screening and containment to development. New areas and belts of woodland, possibly a "community woodland", should form part of these proposals.

POLICY VL2 View Map of this site ?

Land north of the A265 on the west side of Etchingham, as shown on the Proposals Map, is allocated for primary school, village hall, recreation and housing purposes.

Proposals will be permitted where:-

  1. a comprehensive mixed-use scheme is put forward embracing all the above elements;
  2. provision is made for the land for community facilities to be secured and constructed as part of the development, to be set out in a legal agreement, and shall include provision that the community facilities are provided in parallel with the housing development, or as otherwise agreed by the Local Planning Authority;
  3. at least 15 dwellings-are provided at the south-west of the site, as shown on the Proposals Map, of which 40% are affordable;
  4. structural landscape proposals, including woodland, street belts and open spaces are brought forward and implemented as an integral part of proposals;
  5. a new joint access Is provided off the A265, improved access arrangements for pedestrians into Etchingham are secured and an appropriate traffic calming scheme on the A265 in the vicinity of the site is implemented.
13.20.

Fairlight Cove (Inset Map 14)

The approach to Fairlight Cove is by a C Class road which is generally narrow with tight bends, steep gradients and poor visibility in places. Within the village, most roads have been made up but several are unmade, narrow and in a poor state of repair. In line with general development policies, where sites are served by substandard or unadopted roads proposals may be subject to requirements to bring them up to adoptable standards or otherwise achieve appropriate highway improvements.

13.21.

Close to the cliff edge at Fairlight Cove the land is likely to be affected by erosion or land instability. Where this is likely to occur during the lifetime of the building a precautionary policy is necessary. Following an analysis of extensive technical work carried out in 2005, the Council now has a better understanding of the cliff failure mechanism in the Rockmead Road area. It is now possible to make a more reliable prognosis of the likely future recession of the cliff. A plan will be drawn up to show the area likely to be affected and this will be available to the public. This plan, which will be updated as necessary, will be used to inform planning decisions.

13.22.

It is sensible to avoid putting further development at risk in such areas, while engineering works are likely to be either prohibitively expensive or have a harmful effect on the character and appearance of the coastline. Therefore, planning decisions in this locality will have regard to potential erosion or land instability in accordance with Government guidance in PPG14: Development on Unstable Land and PPG20: Coastal Planning.

13.23.

Land adjacent to Fairlight Gardens

Despite the constraints on major growth at Fairlight, there are a good range of services and facilities, and the potential for new development on a vacant site in the heart of the village. This land of 0.5 hectares was previously a garden nursery. It is presently unused and overgrown and is bounded on all sides by existing residential development. It slopes towards Lower Waites Lane and relates more to the residential development there, than to the built form of Fairlight Gardens. Compatible medium density housing is therefore proposed. On this basis, the site would accommodate at least 15 dwellings.

13.24.

Access should be taken from Lower Waites Lane with the approach along Smuggler’s Way, subject to widening the junction with Lower Waites Lane, as well as upgrading the approach to an adoptable standard. A strip at Limehurst needed to improve the width and alignment of the existing highway has already been dedicated for this purpose.

13.25.

Sewerage improvements to provide capacity may be carried out by Southern Water. In the absence of these improvements, it would be necessary to requisition off-site sewerage to serve the development.

POLICY VL3 View Map of this site ?

Land adjacent to Fairlight Gardens, Fairlight Cove, as shown on the Proposals Map, is allocated for housing purposes. Proposals will be permitted where:-

  1. at least 15 dwellings are provided, of which 40% are affordable;
  2. developer contributions are made for widening the junction of Lower Waites Lane with Smugglers Way and for the upgrading of Smugglers Way, and towards off-site drainage improvements to accommodate the development.
  3. no development will be occupied until the 275m rock armour revetment at the toe of the cliffs adjacent to Rockmead Road has been constructed, together with the associated reprofiling and draining of the existing landslip slope and the installation of a line of pumped wells at the cliff top.
  4. developer contributions are made to the construction of the village hall.
13.26.

Flimwell (Inset Map 15)

Land at Corner Farm

This site comprises the area of former farm buildings and a pre-fabricated building, which until recently was used as an office, and land to the rear which is open but previously levelled for use as a nursery.

13.27.

The allocation of this land for a village hall will ensure this facility is centrally placed within the village and, therefore, within walking distance for the majority of the community for which it will serve.

13.28.

The site is in a prominent location, being at the junction of the A21 with the A268, as well as being located on a ridge with outstanding rural views to the south. The siting and design of buildings must have regard to the sensitive character of the site and its relationship with the surrounding countryside. The careful juxtaposition of the village hall and housing should minimise the potential for conflict. It is considered that the more level upper area is better suited to the siting of a large community building, ancillary open space and car parking, and that to site the hall there in a prominent position would create a suitable focus for the village whilst allowing users of the facility to benefit from the extensive views. The Inset Map allocates this part of the site for community use accordingly. The lower level is suited to housing, although the developable area is somewhat limited by surrounding steep banks. The housing development will contribute to the need for the village hall and thus will be expected to contribute to the construction costs.

POLICY VL4 View Map of this site ?

Land at Corner Farm, Flimwell, as shown on the Proposals Map, is allocated for a village hall, housing and open space purposes. Proposals will be permitted where:-

  1. a comprehensive scheme provides for the construction of the village hall no later than the housing development;
  2. at least 12 dwellings are provided of which 40% are affordable;
  3. an area of open space/amenity land be included within a scheme to serve the village hall and to maintain public views to the south.
  4. developer contributions are made to the construction of the village hall.
13.29.

Land at Old Wardsdown

The land allocated for residential development is a level site, amounting to 0.3 hectares and is bounded on three sides by existing residential development. Part of the site comprises brownfield land currently used for garaging and parking, and the remaining land is a greenfield site. Old Wardsdown to the east comprises a recent development of detached and semi-detached houses, built on the site of a former nursery. North of the site is a further 0.25 hectares currently part of the same curtilage, which has not been allocated for residential development, as it is proposed that this land be retained as informal open space to enhance the existing open space provision due east of the site, and to keep development away from the ridge end where the land falls away to the north. It is estimated that the area could accommodate at least 9 dwellings. Developer contributions will be sought towards the construction of the new village hall, whether this occurs before or after housing development.

POLICY VL5 View Map of this site ?

Land on the west of Old Wardsdown, Flimwell, as shown on the Proposals Map, is allocated for housing purposes. Proposals will be permitted where:-

  1. at least 9 dwellings are provided of which 40% are affordable;
  2. land to the north is landscaped to strengthen the existing tree belt at the same time as development and dedicated as informal open space;
  3. access is taken from Old Wardsdown;
  4. developer contributions are made towards a new village hall.
13.30.

Northiam (Inset Map 26)

Land south of The Paddock

The land relates well to the existing built form of the village on its northern and western boundaries and is screened from the countryside to the south and east by natural vegetation along the field boundary in the form of ghyll woodland and ancient woodland. The small stream that runs along the south-eastern boundary is seen as a natural edge to the form of the development in this part of the village, as the land to the south is exposed to the countryside and is rural in character. The land could yield at least 30 dwellings, a percentage of which would be affordable in accordance with the affordable housing policy.

13.31.

Vehicular access to the site will be via Goddens Gill and The Paddock on the northern boundary of the site. This is acceptable in highway terms subject to the improvement of parking provision which currently partially obstructs the highway. In line with the requirements of Policy TR2, a pedestrian link through the development to connect with Beales Lane would help to secure a sustainable access to the services and facilities in the village. This matter will be further investigated at the planning application stage.

13.32.

The design and layout of the proposed development would need to have special regard to the proximity of ancient woodland, adjacent residential properties, the village hall and associated open space.

POLICY VL6 View Map of this site ?

Land east of the village hall, Northiam, as shown on the Proposals Map, is allocated for housing. Proposals will be permitted where:-

  1. at least 30 dwellings are provided, of which 40% are affordable;
  2. development shall be laid out to retain a buffer to the Ancient Woodland to the east of the site;
  3. access shall be via The Paddock, subject to any necessary improvements including alternative parking provision to reduce obstruction from on-street parking.
13.33.

Robertsbridge (Inset Map 30)

Land at Grove Farm, off George Hill

Robertsbridge is considered suitable for modest growth and a part of Grove Farm, situated between the historic centre and the A21 Bypass, is considered to be the most appropriate site to receive development. Development in this location is also more easily capable of being assimilated into the village than other sites. 

13.34.

Housing on the allocated land would have little effect on the character of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or Robertsbridge because of the topography. The site is not within a flood risk area, although care must be taken to ensure that development does not increase risk in the catchment. The site abuts the Conservation Area and part lies within an area of archaeological interest and also appears in the Sites and Monuments Record (SMR) as a Medieval Village. As a consequence, a field evaluation will be required before any decision on a planning application is taken: (Structure Plan policies EN22-EN25 refer-See Appendix 3).

13.35.

The site comprises that part of Grove Farm on the western side of the A21 bypass, the remainder having been severed by construction of the bypass. Most of the land is used for grazing and there is a group of farm buildings, though none of them is listed.

13.36.

The housing allocation is limited to the lower slope closest to George Hill. Because of itsprominence in the landscape, that part of the site on the higher ground to the east and south will be kept free of development.

13.37.

The eastern boundary, where it abuts the bypass is likely to be visible though not prominent in the landscape. Care will need to be taken in the siting of new dwellings. Also, development will need to be contained by strengthening the existing tree planting alongside the Bypass. Because the bypass is in a cutting at this point and with the existing planting on the bank and additional planting within the site, any noise from the A21 is likely to be limited.

13.38.

The southern end of the site rises considerably, is visually exposed and reads more as part of the countryside setting of the village. The northern part of the site which fronts Fair Lane should be kept essentially open to maintain the rural setting to Fair Lane and the school.

13.39.

In terms of access to the site, the scale of development will require a single access point on to George Hill. High quality access to the school and community facilities in the centre of Robertsbridge for pedestrians and cyclists will also need to be provided. These facilities need to be extended to allow access to Robertsbridge Train Station. This provision would minimise the impact of the private car on the existing road network of Robertsbridge.

13.40.

A survey of the farm buildings on site should be undertaken to establish if any are worthy of retention. With a development of this size, land will need to be provided for a childrens play area adjacent to the housing allocation and developer contributions sought. While the form of development will be subject to subsequent detailed consideration, there is a strong case for the inclusion of housing for the elderly within the development.

13.41.

In view of the site’s greenfield status and location within the AONB, the release of this site is subject to Policy DS6. Its release would be triggered only if the Plan Monitor Manage process set out in Section 4 demonstrated that the housing needs of Robertsbridge and its surrounding area in the AONB would not be met by the Mill Site or by other development on previously developed land.

POLICY VL7 View Map of this site ?

Land at Grove Farm, Robertsbridge, as shown on the Proposals Map, is allocated for housing development. The development land amounts to some 0.9 hectares. Access would be from George Hill.

Proposals will be permitted where:-

  1. at least 30 dwellings are provided to include housing for the elderly with 40% of the dwellings to be ‘affordable’.
  2. access is provided to George Hill, together with developer contributions, improved access arrangements for pedestrians and cyclists to Robertsbridge Station;
  3. developer contributions are made to provide for a childrens play area on land adjacent to the housing allocation;
  4. developer contributions are made towards educational needs at Robertsbridge Community College;
  5. field investigations, in respect of the area of archaeological interest, are undertaken before planning permission is granted;
  6. a planting scheme to provide a tree belt 30 metres in width immediately to the east of the housing allocation and children’s play area, as indicated on Inset Map 30, is carried out at the time of the development to provide screening on the higher land between the housing and the Robertsbridge bypass.
13.42.

Land to the rear of Culverwells, Station Road

Earlier versions of the Plan put forward business use on land adjacent to Culverwells, off Station Road. The proposal has not been implemented. The site has only a gentle slope with a total area of some 2.0 hectares. Access would be through Culverwells site.

13.43.

To the south-east lies a factory, to the south allotments, to the south-west Culverwells Garage, to the north-west the railway and to the north and east the flood plain of the River Rother and Glottenham Stream. Although a ‘greenfield’ site, because of its location, development would relate relatively well to the adjacent railway station, other employment uses and the allotments.

13.44.

The site is considered to be the most suitable site for employment use in the village and a mixed use development of the site is appropriate. The purpose of the mixed use allocation is for a limited amount of residential development to take place to enable employment use development on the remainder of the site. It would be necessary for the development of the two uses to be tied by means of a Section 106 Agreement, to ensure that the employment use development takes place, when the housing development is implemented. It is estimated that some 1,300 square metres of business floorspace could be accommodated, supported by 14 dwellings, of which 40% would be affordable.

13.45.

A part of the site to the north-east is within the fluvial flood risk area. The Robertsbridge improved flood walls and embankments scheme is due for completion shortly and will provide protection against the 1 in 100 year extreme event. A part of the embankment is within the site and a small part of the site towards the north and east boundaries will remain without adequate protection from the risk of flooding. The development must not interfere with the flood protection works. It will need to be demonstrated that there will be no loss of flood storage nor obstruction of flood flows. A flood risk assessment will be necessary and this could result in a reduction of the developable area.

POLICY VL8 View Map of this site ?

Land adjacent to Culverwells, Robertsbridge, as shown on the Proposals Map, is allocated as a mixed use development consisting mainly of employment use, but with an enabling element of housing development. Proposals will be permitted where:-

  1. at least 14 dwellings are provided, at a density of not less than 30 dwellings per hectare with 40% as affordable dwellings together with at least 1,300 square metres of business floorspace.
  2. both residential and business uses are progressed in tandem;
  3. a flood risk assessment has been undertaken;
  4. developer contributions are made towards secondary level education, for Robertsbridge Community College;
  5. a suitable access has been provided to Station Road.
13.46.

Westfield (Inset Map 36)

Land off Moor Lane, north of Moor Farm

On the western side of the village is an area of scrubland that is roughly triangular shaped and includes an area of hardstanding used until recently for parking coaches, and a pair of derelict cottages. The land, which amounts to 0.7 hectares, has frontages to Moor Lane and Stonestile Lane. The original alignment of the bypass passed through the northern part of this site. The land slopes down to the north and relates well to the existing built form of the village. In view of this, development would not adversely impact on the wider countryside to the south. A public footpath forms a boundary to the settlement on the south side. Access to the site is viable from Moor Lane.

POLICY VL9 View Map of this site ?

Land off Moor Lane, Westfield, as shown on the Proposals Map, is allocated for housing purposes. Proposals will be permitted where:-

  1. at least 15 dwellings are provided, of which 40% are affordable;
  2. footpath link is provided along the western side of the site;
  3. the tree belt hedgerow on the southern boundary is strengthened.
13.47.

Wheel Farm Business Park

Wheel Farm Business Park is on a low-lying level site west of the village. Immediately to the west are three recently constructed units and to the south the older style sheds and barns are occupied by a small number of companies. The inclusion of this site for B1 use is a logical rounding off of the site, and will provide local employment opportunities for the community, which is in alignment with the policies put forward in the employment chapter. It may provide some 1,000m2 of the business accommodation.

POLICY VL10 View Map of this site ?

Some 0.3 hectares of land adjoining Wheel Farm Business Park, Westfield, as shown on the Proposals Map, is allocated for business purposes.

13.48.

Land at Westfield Down

This is rising ground extending out of the village on the east side of the A28. While the higher ground is considered to be more sensitive to building development, the lower land would be visually contained in terms of wider views across the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is relatively close to local facilities.

13.49.

The northern part of the site could satisfactorily accommodate sports and recreational uses, for which there is a recognised need within the villages, particularly for football. Because of the sloping nature of the land, some regrading would be necessary, while screen planting would also help minimise its impact.

13.50.

As there is no physical division within the site, and because of the need for recreational facilities to serve the community, it is envisaged that the housing development and recreational element proceed in tandem.

POLICY VL11 View Map of this site ?

Land at Westfield Down, Westfield, as shown on the Proposals Map, is allocated for housing and recreation purposes. Proposals will be permitted where:-

  1. comprehensive proposals for both housing and recreational elements are put forward and the recreational land is secured;
  2. at least 22 dwellings are provided at the southern end of the site, of which 40% are affordable;
  3. screen tree planting is provided on the northern boundary;
  4. a new joint access is provided off the A28 or alternatively via an upgraded existing access to the Surgery.
13.51.

Winchelsea Beach (Inset Map 41)

Land at Victoria Way and south of Harbour Farm

The land at Victoria Way was laid out between the two world wars and is in multiownerships. The area comprises a mix of holiday caravans, dwelling houses and a few unused plots. It is served by mains drainage, water and electricity but access is substandard in terms of width, alignment and surfacing. In addition, there are problems of surface water drainage.

13.52.

The land south of Harbour Farm has similar characteristics to Victoria Way although more plots are unused. All road improvements to be undertaken with any new development must comply with the requirements of the Highway Authority. The widening or improvement to Uncles Lane to improve access will not be permitted as the junction with Sea Road is too close to the junction of Dogs Hill Road and Sea Road. Access could be gained off Sea Road by the appropriate demolition of property, together with land for any visibility splays, etc.

13.53.

The following policy seeks to ensure that a comprehensive approach to further development is taken in view of these constraints regarding access and surface water disposal, and that no significant redevelopment is otherwise permitted on individual plots.

POLICY VL12 View Map of this site ?

New dwellings or the placing of additional caravans on existing sites at Victoria Way and land south of Harbour Farm, Winchelsea Beach as shown on the Proposals Map will be permitted provided such development forms part of a comprehensive scheme offering significant environmental improvements including an orderly improvement of access and drainage to an appropriate standard.

The replacement of an existing dwelling will be permitted on a onefor- one basis, subject to the normal criteria relating to siting, design, external appearance, landscaping and means of access.

13.54.

Proposals on land at The Ridge and Morlais Ridge, which were subject to an earlier policy restricting development to “one-for-one” replacement dwellings, will be considered against general Plan policies for development in the countryside.

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