A long-serving councillor has been censured by a standards committee for his part in allowing two factory units to be built on farmland.

Jack Gore, who represented the Framfield area on Wealden District Council for more than a decade, was ordered to apologise to residents who complained he had failed to declare an interest in a planning proposal which they said had ruined their quiet country lane.

Earlier this year they alleged he had backed plans put forward by a friend to build two commercial units on the site of a poultry shed at New Place Farm in Pump Lane, Framfield, near Uckfield.

They said he should have declared both a personal and a prejudicial interest in the proposals and should have had no part in the vote which approved the plans in September 2003.

The council's standards committee yesterday ruled that Mr Gore had failed to make the necessary declaration.

A council spokesman said: "Mr Gore has been censured by the committee and asked to apologise."

Residents around the site of the units formed the Pump Lane Preservation Group to seek action after the planning permission was granted four years ago.

They said they had gone from looking at woodland to looking at huge factory units and their country lane had become a muddy road.

The group reported Mr Gore to the Standards Board for England because of an alleged friendship with the site's owner Raymond Edmondson, who it claimed was a Tory party fundraiser.

Mr Gore, 75, this week admitted that he had failed in his duty to declare that he was friends with Mr Edmondson at the development control north sub-committee on September 25, 2003.

He said: "I failed to declare an interest. I have admitted that and I have apologised."

He did not stand for re-election to the council this May after serving for 12 years. During that time he had spent four years as chairman of the planning committee and two as chairman of the council.

Councillor Ann Newton, who has replaced him as Framfield's representative, said: "Jack was an extremely popular councillor. Everyone was saddened that this has happened to him. Anyone who knows him knows that this was nothing more than a mistake. He is not the type of person who would abuse his position in any way."