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Watercress Fields - Timeline

Land to the SW of Strand Meadow

(Land to South West of Strand Meadow)

Developer: Park Lane Homes(SE) ltd., St Leonards-on-Sea, TN37 6RL

Current Status: Planning Permission Granted on Appeal


15th September 2022 - Park Lane (South-East) application to remove affordables

4th April 2022 - Planning Inspector overturns RDC and grants planning permission

9th March 2022 - Victory in the High Court

15th October 2021 - Judge grants makes us a party to the Judicial Review

19th August 2021 - Park Lane serves claim form in their Juditial Review challenge

28th July 2021 - Park Lane begins their legal challenge to the Neighbourhood Plan

7th March 2021 - 2018 Planning Permission Expires and kept alive by repeat application

24th February 2021 - Second Reserved Matters Application made

23rd February 2021 - Reserved Matters Application Refused by Rother District Council

6th October 2020 - Reserved Matters Application made

14th February 2020 - Email requesting access to the field

8th January 2020 - Architect's presentation

25th July 2019 - Appeal dismissed by planning inspector

1st March 2019 - Appeal lodged by Park Lane

22nd January 2019 - Application refused by Rother District Council

26th November 2018 - County Ecologist Report

28th June 2018 - Application made for 30 units without affordable housing

7th March 2018 - Section 106 signed

27th July 2017 - Consent given subject to Section 106

15th March 2017 - Application made for 17 units with affordable housing

15th December 2011 - Outline planning permission granted

October 2011 - Application for outline planning permission for 17 units

1st December 1986 - Appeal dismissed by planning inspector

2nd and 3rd October 1986 - Public inquiry held to determine appeal

July 1986 - The decision was appealed

5th September 1985 - Application refused by Rother District Council

2nd July 1986 - Application for planning permission

15t September 2022
4th April 2022
9th March 2022

15th September 2022 - Park Lane applies to Rother District Council for the affordable homes condition on their development to be removed. 

It is anticipated that this will be dealt with by the planning committee and not by officers.

4th April 2022 - Planning Inspector overturns Rother District Council's refusal of planning permission.

In a surprise move, a planning inspector overturned Rother District Council’s decision
to refuse planning permission for the development at Watercress Field. Burwash:
Save our Fields took legal advice and was warned that it was unlikely that a legal
challenge would succeed. This meant that subject to agreeing the conditions of the
planning application (and in particular the affordable homes condition), building could

9th March 2022 - Victory in the High Court

On 9 March 2022, Mrs Justice Lang delivered her judgment in the judicial review
proceedings about Burwash’s Neighbourhood Plan, involving the developer, Park Lane
Homes (S-E). She dismissed Park Lane Homes (S-E)'s claims about the Neighbourhood
plan entirely.

Park Lane (S-E) claimed among other things that the draft Neighbourhood Plan had to
allocate houses in Watercress Field, off Strand Meadow in Burwash and that the assessment of the draft plan by Rother District Council was unfair and procedurally flawed. Park Lane Homes (S-E) was ordered to pay Rother's costs of £26,500 and Burwash: Save our Fields costs which was the £255 Court fee it had paid. Park Lane Homes (S-E) will have to pay their own legal costs.

Park Lane Homes (S-E) also applied for leave to appeal and this application was dismissed. It is a great moment for Burwash when a well-funded developer cannot demand houses are built in a beautiful part of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

19th August 2021

19th August 2021 - Burwash Neighbourhood plan to be challenged in the High Court

Russell Beswick’s company, Park Lane Homes (South-East) took Rother District Council
to the High Court to quash their decision that the Burwash Neighbourhood plan
satisfied the required basic conditions for neighbourhood plans. The plan then
awaited a referendum by the electors of Burwash. The real challenge made was that
the plan does not designate Watercress Field for housing.’

7th March 2021
24th February 2021

7th March 2021 - 2018 Planning Permission (30 houses with 40% Affordables) expires. 

24th February 2021 - Park Lane lodge a second Reserved Matters Application, which is identical to the one refused by the council the day before. Simultaneously, they say they will appeal the Council's decision, along with the threat of reclaiming their appeal costs from the council should they be successful.


23rd February 2021 - Rother District Council refuse the Reserved Matters Application by a vote of 13-1. Rother's planning officers supported it vigorously.  

6th October 2020 - Detailed Reserved Matters Application lodged, relating to the 2018 planning permission, which allows for 30 houses with 40% affordables. 


23rd February 2021
6th October 2020
14th Feb 2020
8th Jan 2020
25th July 2019

14th February 2020 - We ask for access to the field in order to carry out an independent survey of the ecology, soil and piling. The response says more about Park Lane's attitude to the local community than perhaps the author of their email intended.

Our Email

Park Lane's Reply

8th January 2020 - Architect shows drawings to the public at the Burwash Internet Café

The Architects Presentation

Our Response

25th July 2019 - Appeal dismissed by planning inspector. His report said: “The three-storey buildings present a rather abrupt edge to the village and an architectural style, form and scale unsympathetic to the rural landscape character. The proposed dwellings would include large areas of glazing and details unrelated to the locality or the building traditions of the wider landscape. This would result in a hard, semi-urban appearance. Accordingly, the proposal would not enhance the architectural quality of the village or the High Weald."


The inspector also considered ‘the design had not been tested through any form of design review or any concerted effort to work up a design with the local community’.

Our Submission to the Inspector

The Full Inspector's Decision

1st March 2019 - Appeal lodged by Park Lane

March 2019 Appeal - Where all the documents can be found


22nd January 2019 - Application for 30 units WITHOUT affordable housing was refused unanimously by Rother District Council

26th November 2018 - The County Ecologist made a report on the Watercress Field site.

County Ecologist Report

28th June 2018 - Application was made for 30 units WITHOUT affordable housing

June 2018 Application - Where all the documents can be found


High Weald AONB Objection Letter

Second High Weald Letter affirming same position to the amended plans

1st March 2019
22nd Jan 2019
26th Nov 2018
28th June 2018
7th March 2018
27th July 2017

7th March 2018 - Section 106 was signed, including a condition of a footpath to join with the recreation ground/Ham Lane.

Section 106 Agreement

27th July 2017 - Consent was given subject to conditions and the satisfactory prior completion of Section 106 (Section 106 is a legal commitment to build and fulfil the requirements of the footpath).

15th March 2017 - Planning application made for 17 units with affordable housing

March 2017 Application - Where all the documents can be found


15th December 2011 - Outline planning permission granted with 40% affordable housing.

October 2011 - Application for outline planning permission for 17 houses with 40% affordable housing.

15th March 2017
15th December 2011
Oct 2011
1st December 1986
3rd Oct 1986

1st December 1986 - The Inspector gave his reasons for refusing the development. He noted that the East Sussex Structure Plan had superseded the County Development Plan relied on by Rother District Council. He also noted the failure of the local authority to provide adequate housing. The reasons for refusal were:

i)    The visual impact on part of the AONB, see Documents page 11 para 11.

ii)   The widening of the carriageway in Strand Meadow would be insufficient to overcome the problems of the [17] extra houses, see para 12, see Documents page 11.

iii)  The quality of the landscape, see para 15, see Documents page 12.

iv)  The setting of the village, see para 15, see Documents page 12.

v)   The AONB, see para 15, see Documents page 12.

vi)  The detrimental visual impact on the surrounding landscape, see para 15, see Documents page 12.

vii) The significant increase in traffic [generated would create] danger and inconvenience for the residents in the existing houses.

Inspector's Report - 1986

2nd and 3rd October 1986 - A public inquiry was held to determine the appeal

July 1986 - The decision was appealed

5th September 1985 - The Council refused the application on the following grounds:


i) The development was not in accordance with the County Structure Plan.

ii) There was an intention by the District Planning Authority that the land should remain the same.

iii) The development would be contrary to the approved policy in the 1981 Village policy.

iv) The site lay within a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the proposal would be detrimental to the character and appearance of the area and contrary to the provisions of the County Structure plan.

v) Strand Meadow is of inadequate width to serve the proposed development.

2nd July 1985 - Mr R C Kirkham made an application to Rother District Council for planning permission for ‘residential development of 2 acres of land at Strand Meadow in Burwash’.

July 1986
5th Sept 1985
2nd July 1985
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