MORE money needs to be spent on improving Crowborough's roads before hundreds of new homes can be built.
That was the view of residents and town councillors alike after a 15-year planning blueprint was rubber-stamped on Wednesday. The core strategy commits Wealden District Council to building 9,440 new homes before 2027 – but makes no promise about upgrading infrastructure.
Paul Guntrip, who lives in Crowborough's Western Road near where up to 160 homes could go, said: "That's not something the core strategy has looked at. Building homes is one thing, but transport infrastructure needs addressing in this area."
The town council has accepted 300 more homes as a reasonable enough figure when compared with Uckfield, which is getting 1,000, but is concerned about exactly where they will go. That detail will be determined at a later date.
Wealden District Council suggests 140 split between Jarvis Brook Waste Depot in Forest Dene, which could be closed when private firm Kier takes over bin services next year, and the site of its redundant offices in Pine Grove.
That leaves another 160 to be deposited on fields south of Walshes Road. Alternatives such as the Town Hall in The Broadway or the old community hall in Park Road have been put forward but the Government's planning inspector has already ruled out a site next to Crowborough Leisure Centre in Eridge Road.
Beverley Johnstone, town councillor for Jarvis Brook, said: "Crowborough will benefit from more housing but the traffic issue has been swept under the carpet.
"At the moment it's very difficult to see how the road infrastructure could be improved. It doesn't seem feasible."
Mr Guntrip suggested a southern bypass linking the A26 near Herons Ghyll with the A267 near Argos Hill but accepted it was unrealistic. "I don't think they could afford it," he said.
Town councillor Andrew Steen, himself a planning consultant, said: "We shouldn't be upset with the level of housing we're getting – it could have been at least double that – but we shall be keeping a close eye on where the houses go."
He added a new tax on development, called the Community Infrastructure Levy, would only help if Wealden spent any cash raised locally.
Wealden District Council spokesman Jim van den Bos emphasised more consideration would be given to roads issues as its planning policy – "a living document" – progressed further.
The council's member for planning affairs Roy Galley said: "The core strategy allows for growth to take place in locations best suited to new schemes to provide housing and facilities for young people, families and our growing number of older people."