An appeal to build nearly 300 homes on farmland has been dismissed by the government’s planning inspectorate.

Developer Croudace Homes applied for permission for a 290-home development on land at Bird In Eye Farm in Framfield, near Uckfield at the end of 2021.

But, when it became clear Wealden District Council was unlikely to support the scheme, the developers launched an appeal.

They appealed against the council’s non-determination – when the planning authority does not make a decision in the statutory period.  

A planning inquiry was held in September this year.

Working with East Sussex County, Framfield Parish and Uckfield Town councils, Wealden District presented evidence to get the appeal dismissed.

The planning inspector’s decision was announced last week and the appeal was dismissed on the grounds the development would result in the loss or deterioration of ancient woodland.

Other reasons included harm to protected species, concerns about highway safety and flood risk.

Planning inspector H Butcher also raised issues of drainage and harm to the preservation of the Grade II Listed Oast House in Uckfield.

The Argus: The Oast House in UckfieldThe Oast House in Uckfield (Image: Oast House Archive)

This is the second time redevelopment of the Bird in Eye Farm South site has been the subject of development and a dismissed appeal.

In 2009, redevelopment was rejected here for similar reasons.

Councillor Ian Tysh, council lead for planning and environment, said: “I am absolutely delighted at this decision by the planning inspector who has endorsed exactly what Wealden council made clear at the point of refusal back in February 2022.

“I am particularly pleased at the emphasis the inspector placed on protecting the ancient woodland near the site and its animal inhabitants and the setting of the historic Uckfield Oast House.”

Many Framfield residents shared their relief at the news of the dismissal.

Ben Reed, a member of the Framfield Road Says No Facebook group, wrote: “Thank you to you all battling through, all the commitment and objections and importantly to the town clerk and our mayor. The hours and help to support our town, ancient woodlands and heritage.”

Jo Hextor added: “It feels like a miracle.”