Reserved matters permission was sought by Rydon Homes for 26 new homes on land off High Street, Barcombe Cross in Lewes District.

The application was refused on the grounds of the effect of the proposed scheme on the character and appearance of the area. While the reason for refusal was not specifically related to built heritage issues, the site is surrounded on three sides by the Barcombe Cross Conservation Area and so the effect on the character of the conservation area was a significant element of this refusal. The scheme had been allocated in the Lewes District Local plan and outline planning permission for 26 homes had been granted. The scheme was recommended for approval in the committee report but was refused by the Planning Committee.

The primary heritage issue was the effect on the character of the Conservation Area. It was accepted by all parties that the development would have a less than substantial harmful effect on the conservation area but this had been considered to be acceptable, subject to the high quality design of the scheme, when the site was allocated and granted outline consent. The proposed reserved matters scheme was designed in close consultation with the LPA’s planning case officer, Senior Conservation Officer and Landscape officers so as to ensure that the reserved matters scheme was to fit in with the character of the conservation area.

The Inspector concluded that the design of the proposed dwellings would reflect the built heritage and local vernacular which characterise Barcombe Cross. It was accepted that there would be no harm caused to the special interest of the Conservation Area, other than that caused by the loss of an undeveloped field within the setting of the conservation area, as identified as part of the assessment of the outline scheme. He also concluded that the appeal scheme would be respectful of the character, appearance and setting of the Conservation Area, as per the requirements of the local plan policy for the allocation.

Orion Heritage did the archaeological assessment, evaluation trenching and heritage statement for the outline scheme and was the heritage expert witness at the appeal.

Orion’s MD Rob Bourn was the heritage expert witness and the barrister was Richard Turney KC. The archaeological assessment was done by Charlie Willis, Sylvia Lock managed the evaluation trenching and Jan Mathieson and Robin Sheehan did the heritage statement and additional assessment of the Barcombe Cross Conservation Area.