East Chiltington

Planning Proposal for 3,000 houses on Eton land at North Barnes Farm

Planning Proposal for 3,000 houses on Eton land at North Barnes Farm, East Chiltington


The government has committed to increasing house building and made changes in planning policy meaning that planning authorities like LDC must review their plans when they are 5 years old. For LDC the Local Plan Part 1 (LPP1) reaches 5 years old in May 2021.

The planning policy changes also introduced a new national calculation which LDC must use to determine housing requirements, rather than apply local knowledge. This is called the Standard Method. Under this method the number for LDC rises from 345 new houses per annum to 782 (tbc) new houses per annum. This has created planning uncertainty that can be exploited by developers who will claim that LDC cannot demonstrate a five-year supply to meet this new number.

What is the proposed plan for EC?

A developer working on behalf of Eton College have contacted ECPC so that they may consult with us on their plan to build 3,000 houses on Eton Land at North Barnes Farm.


The developer has written to ECPC with the following information;

“ I have set out below our initial thinking that is based on the principles of Agricultural Urbanism which we are planning to use to inform our design process, together with a brief summary of our credentials.

 Agricultural Urbanism combines the benefits of sustainable urban life, with all the day to day needs of people and families being met within 10 or 15 minutes walking or cycle-ride , with the renewed focus on the importance  of the rural economy, building on existing local traditions and the emerging patterns of new rural communities in which food-growing and small holdings play an important role.  Agricultural Urbanism reflects how much loved English market towns grew and evolved. This approach also places zero carbon, ecology and biodiversity net gain at the centre of the planning process.

Welbeck Land, the promoter for this site, is working with the landowner, Eton College, on this project.  Welbeck Land is an experienced land promoter, working with landowners in Sussex, Hampshire, and the Midlands to bring forward sustainable new developments.  Damon Turner, the Welbeck partner leading on North Barnes Farm, comes from Sussex where he still has family, and is currently advising the land owners at Adversane in West Sussex on the development of a new settlement as part of the Local Plan consultation in Horsham District.  Welbeck retains Lord Deben, the chair of the UK Committee on Climate Change, as an adviser on sustainability.

For this project, Damon has assembled a team of consultants with a range of local, national and international experience to prepare plans for a new Sussex market town to face the challenges of the 21st Century, providing homes and jobs for our growing population in the context of the climate emergency.

The leader of the design team is Paul Murrain. Paul was Senior Design Director at HRH The Prince of Wales' Foundation for the Built Environment during the early years of the development of Poundbury, the Duchy of Cornwall’s urban extension to Dorchester. He has also lived and worked in the USA where he was a visiting professor at The University of Miami and a member of the New Urbanism movement.  Paul continues to be a leading thinker and design consultant in how we should respond to our need for new homes and jobs in a way that respects the traditions of the past, whilst responding to the challenges of the future.  To assist Paul in this work, Will Anderson, of Rabble Place, is providing local architectural advice.  Will lives in Firle, and is based in Lewes.  He advises a number of parishes and landed estates in Sussex and Hampshire on their Neighbourhood Plans and estate plans, is a trustee of Action in Rural Sussex, and is adept in the local architectural vernacular.

Our landscape consultant, Stephen Kirkpatrick of Scarp, and our ecologist, Alexia Tamblyn of the Ecology Partnership, have been chosen for their experience of working in very sensitive landscapes, including the South Downs National Park, and their understanding of the particular circumstances in Sussex.

The leader of our transport team is Lynn Basford of Basford Powers.  Lynn is a leading transport consultant, with a focus on sustainable transport futures, and is a contributor to the latest technical guidance produced in the transport industry focussed on radical reductions in car use in favour of public transport, cycling and walking.

I myself have lived in Lewes for over 15 years, and am an experienced planning consultant, having first engaged in the development of major sites as Director of Estates and Regeneration for the South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust, during which time I gained planning permission for the regeneration of an 80 acre site in the London Borough of Wandsworth for a new, sustainable suburb, including affordable and supported housing, a new 30 acre urban park and a new mental health inpatient facility.  This is now being built out.  I have also advised the team responsible for the North East Chelmsford Garden Village, and am currently working with Welbeck on the proposed new settlement in Adversane, West Sussex.  I am focussed on the social and community benefits of new development for existing as well as new residents, and on zero carbon in all its complexity.

We are approaching this project recognising that local people are unlikely to welcome us at first, but we would hope to be able to build a trusting relationship over time that will ensure that the proposals, as they emerge, will provide benefits to the existing communities as well as to that which will emerge on this site, should planning permission be granted in the fullness of time.  Our whole team is in this area of work because we believe that we will continue to need new and affordable homes in Lewes district and the south east more broadly for some time to come, and that, if this is accepted, we have a duty to ensure that these are provided in the best and most sustainable way possible.  We fully appreciate that this will have more impact on some people than on others, but our experience tells us that there are mutual benefits to be gained if we are all able to work together.

We are aware that the site is wholly within East Chiltington, but we are concerned to ensure that Plumpton and Chailey Parish Councils are also engaged early in the planning process given the effects that our plans will have on all three parishes.  To this end, I have copied Cllrs Beaumont and Lethem into this email.

We are working within the Lewes District Council Local Plan review process, and would welcome full engagement with the parishes and local politicians as part of this process.  To this end, once your members have considered your requirements, we would like to work with you, and the other parishes, as our plans evolve in advance of the Regulation 18 consultation timetabled for the Spring/Summer 2021.

Please feel free to contact me at any time so that we can agree a mutually beneficial way of working together.

Thank you

Kind regards,


Andrew Simpson

BA(Hons) (Cantab)  MA AoU


 ECPC will meet with the developer in the next few days to hear their proposal and to pose many challenging questions about their proposed development.

What is ECPC doing about this?

We are working with all the other LDC parishes (who are facing the same threat of opportunistic development after May 2021) and forming a steering group to campaign against the proposals that each Parish faces (Plumpton, Chailey, Ditchling, Wivelsfield.) We believe that together we will be stronger.

We will be working with Plumpton County Councillor Sarah Osbourne and Councillor Rob Banks who oppose these plans. We will seek clarification from Maria Caulfield as she has recently voiced concern over the impact of the planning policy changes.

 We will of course meet with LDC and ask challenging questions about this proposed development.

What is the view of ECPC?

We all share the view that this planning proposal has no merit but need to understand what obligations LDC has as the new ‘Standard Method’ calculation more than doubles the annual housing target.

What can you do to oppose this plan?

At the moment, there is no formal planning application to officially comment on. You are welcome to voice concerns through the normal democratic channels – Sarah Osbourne, Rob Banks and ECPC.

ECPC will keep you informed regularly – at least monthly and more frequently if anything changes significantly.

How can I help?

 Please can any residents who have knowledge of the following come forward to help;

Planning Law and Planning Policy

Journalism and PR

Environmental and Ecological Impact

Of course we welcome anyone else that wants to help!

Please e mail; mirandagoodenough@icloud.com to express your interest and skillset.

Mary Symes

Chair ECPC

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