May 2024

In Autumn of 2023 LDC carried out a public consultation

‘Spatial Strategy and Policy Directions’ which is to help form the planning framework for our plan area until 2024. Thousands of people responded, including many from Hamsey Parish who were concerned about over development, and the Cooksbridge to Hamsey Conyboro 1100 homes in particular.

At the time of writing (9th May 2024) the Lewes District Draft Local Plan has not been published, so we do not know whether this major Cooksbridge site will feature in this important document. A similar proposal at East Chiltington for 3000 homes was assessed to be unsuitable and ruled out of the plan whilst the Cooksbridge site was still being assessed. Whilst the railway station at Cooksbridge is widely heralded by developers as a sustainable travel option, in reality the congestion at the level crossing creates a huge constraint to any development in this area. Additionally, the extra traffic generated from this car dependent location would feed directly to the Lewes Prison Crossroads. At the assessment of the previous Local Plan in March 2016, the Inspectorate agreed with Lewes Planners that they needed to reduce the housing target because further development north of Lewes town would have an unacceptable effect on the congestion around the Lewes cross roads area.

This week Lewes Planning department has unfortunately been placed into a special designation, meaning that developers will be able to bypass the democratic process and have their application judged by the government’s Planning Inspectorate. Developers may not wish to take this route as there will be no option to appeal the decision. It is unclear at this stage how this designation will affect applications including major proposals within Hamsey Parish.

Campaign Group- Don’t Urbanise Hamsey

Housing campaign Don’t Urbanise Hamsey is an excellent source of information and evidence. It is possible to sign up online for updates from the group, which is made up of dedicated local people, with advice from Planning consultant Whaleback.

Lewes District Council and the Local Plan

Lewes District Council is reviewing its plans for the District outside the National Park. This will cover everything: housing, jobs, transport, town centres, the countryside, where to build and where not to build.

The government has set very high housing targets for the area. They want to catch up on housing shortages and have highlighted areas of high demand where house prices are high, including our area. If Lewes District Council doesn’t do their best to meet the government targets, developers will be able to appeal against refusals and there’s a good chance they’ll be given the go-ahead even if local people object.

The Parish Council understands the Council’s difficulties, but believes the government’s targets are unreasonable and will have a massive impact on the area, without doing much to help local people struggling with high housing prices and costs. We believe the government should be rigorously challenged to reduce the targets to a more reasonable level.

Sites in Hamsey Parish

*Update, May 2024: Hamsey Parish Council are awaiting news from both LDC (Lewes District Council)  and SDNPA (South Downs National Park) about further sites in Cooksbridge which are being considered as part of their Local Plans. News was meant to have been shared in Spring this year.

The first stage in the Council’s review involves finding out where development could take place by asking landowners about their plans. This stage is now complete and the attached map shows the planning department’s results, as follows:

Green light (developable) –

16HY 12 lakeside houses at the Old Hamsey Brickworks (Hamsey Lakes) – this has already been agreed in principle anyway.

Amber light (potentially developable) –

11HY either side of the A275 between Hamsey Lane and The Rainbow – 150 dwellings. The main issue for LDC is the impact on Old Cooksbridge Conservation Area, as well as adding to the congestion of A275 Cooksbridge Level Crossing, and the inevitable spill out onto the quiet lanes and single barrier Hamsey level crossing.

Red Light (not developable):

  • 15HY Springles Farm
  • 12HY Land at McBeans (April 2024 has been granted planning permission)
  • 17HY Old Hamsey Lakes extension
  • 06HY The Platt, Beechwood Lane (This is a Designated Green Space, in the Hamsey Neighbourhood Plan)
  • 18HY Field South of Beechwood Hall (This is a Designated Green Space, in the Hamsey Neighbourhood Plan)

Nature Recovery

A collective blueprint for targeted action

Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRS) are a statutory requirement from the Environment Act 2021. Their aim is to protect the important places for nature that are left, and identify the opportunities to restore or create it, where it can have the most benefit for wildlife and people.

48 strategies are being prepared at the county level to cover the whole of England. There will be one LNRS for West Sussex and one for East Sussex covering Brighton & Hove.

Residents, community groups, land managers and organisations in Sussex will be invited to create shared priorities for nature’s recovery and identify the actions that can be taken to deliver them. These collaboratively produced blueprints will show where there’s a need and the appetite to recover important habitats and species to target funding, investment and action.

Map of Hamsey

The Conyboro site, Cooksbridge

19HY An additional site, for 1100 dwellings has also been put forward on the Conyboro Estate land. This would be a massive development running all along both sides of Hamsey Lane with all the land between Hamsey Lane and the railway line and also the other side of Hamsey Lane up to Hamsey Lodge, North End Lane. It would then run all the way along to the Hamsey level crossing.

This would clearly have a major impact on the parish. The Parish Council has set out strong objections to this site coming forward – this can be found here Hamsey PC’s response to ‘call for sites’ submission 19HY (land North East of Railway line, either side of Hamsey Lane)

Lewes District Council has not yet evaluated these proposals. They are looking at them alongside the Eton College New Town proposals in East Chiltington (3,000 houses) and a large site at Ringmer (900 houses) to see if any or all of these proposals should be taken forward.

Hamsey Parish Council, having set out objections to the Conyboro proposals, is awaiting the outcome of LDC’s assessments before commenting further. However, be assured that we will be doing everything we can to fully represent the voice of our parish at every step of the process.

Further information can be found in the following documents

The Plan process

This is the very earliest stage in a long process before it’s finally decided what goes where. Lewes District Council is required by law to consult at each stage of the process and take those comments into account. There will also almost certainly be a public hearing before final decisions are made.

Whilst it is LDC’s responsibility to consult people, Hamsey Parish Council will let parishioners know what’s happening as best we can – mainly through this website and Hamsey News. Let us have your views at any stage in the process, using the contact form below, or this e-mail address:

Cllr Tamsyn d’Arienzo,

Chair, Hamsey Parish Council