Hackhurst Lane is a carriageway that serves the Industrial Estate, the Piggery owned by Anne Harris and quite a few other households.
Hackhurst Lane Business Area is a long established concentration of industrial/commercial activities with a significant employment role in relation to Hailsham. It is viewed as serving the wider South Wealden area particularly for B2 and B8 industries that may choose not to locate on a town business park in view of the nature of their use or rent levels. The area therefore provides an alternative which complements the Hailsham town business parks.
Hackhurst Lane is a Private Carriageway number 9 and belongs to the Earl of Chichester......
Mrs A Harris
Hackhurst Lane Piggery
Ref: Chris Bending
RE: WD/2017/2577/F - TIMBER FENCE
LANE INDUSTRIAL ESTATE, LOWER DICKER, HAILSHAM BN27 4BW
I wish to make a complaint about the attitude of a planning officer, Mr Chris Bending.
The complaint involves an application to partially fence off the carriage way 'Hackhurst Lane' from the industrial units facing it & from the road at right angles to it. WD/2017/2577/F.
1/ He failed to serve the requisite notices on affected parties or to publicly display them.
2/ He then refused to officially notify affected parties.
3/ He refused to regard encroachment into the carriageway (width set down in statute) or the fact that the proposed fence would prevent fence would prevent access of cattle lorries/tractors & trailers as material considerations.
4/ He refused to put all this nonsense in writing and refused to repeat in on the telephone so that I could tape record it.
Mr Bending appear to want to put me out of business, prevent me from continuing to use a piece of road I have used for over 30 years, and fail to inform me of the plan until it was too late to prevent it.
I found out about this application by chance. Mr Bending did not return my call and when I did speak to him he was arrogant and dismissive, saying that in his opinion no-one on the south side of Hackhurst Lane was materially affected by the proposed development & therefore did not need to be told about it.
I pointed out that the proposed fence would prevent me carrying on my business because I would not be able to get into my gate.
I reminded Mr Bending that applications to put a full length fence between the industrial estate & Hackhurst Lane or to gate off the A22 end of Hackhurst Lane at the first factory had failed because of the status of this road. Hackhurst Lane is in fact Private Carriageway No8. Its ownership, usage, enjoyment and width are laid down by Act of Parliament & tested in a landmark Judgment (on Private Carriageway No9) Benn V Hardinge.
The proposed development is on the carriageway which must (unless the Act of Parliament is repealed) be 20 feet wide.
Mr Bending said that in his opinion this is not a planning consideration. Entertaining a planning application for a development which is a breach of statute is clearly wrong & I therefore suspect that the owner of the carriageways set down under the Act has not been notified that with WDC & the Developer he is about to become complicit!
I pointed this out to Mr Bending that for me, the simple solution would be to have the fence beyond the carriageway & provide a gate in the fence opposite my farm gate with written agreement for me to access the road I have been using for the last 30 years & also thereby having carefully explained the damage this proposal would do to my business & my two neighbours concerns (Mr Stevens & Mr Grecroft) & having suggested a solution to these problems, I again asked Mr Bending to serve all three of us with official notification, so that we could make representations.
He refused saying he had pinned up notices. Neither I nor my 2 neighbours have seen these notices though there a 3 telegraph poles, one at each end of, & one opposite the proposed development. Mr Bending said he had put the notices up himself but was unable to say where he had put them.
I asked again for official notification - Mr Bending refused.
I asked him to give his reasons in writing - he refused.
I asked him to repeat his reasons while I recorded - he refused.
I asked him for a complaint form - he said write in.
I phoned my councillor, Mr White, & told him I was going to make a complaint about a council planning officer who was being very incompetent and arrogant & must be inexperienced. Mr White told me Mr Bending was a very senior planning officer.
When I listed my catalogue of complaints he said was waiting (in vain) for Mr Bending's response to a message he had left him (on another matter). Mr White could not remember the application going to Parish Council & said he would make enquiries with the Parish Clerk.
Mr Bending has failed to follow procedures & so doing put my business & use & enjoyment of my property at risk & is doing so quite knowingly & deliberately.
Please sort it out.
As you can see from the letter to Mrs Harris from Kelvin Williams, this is pretty much a standard reply that has been modified. The original planning application was received when Mr Williams was the head of planning at Wealden. Mrs Harris attended the Committee meeting when this application to install a timber fence was to be aired, to make sure that the Members of the Committee were told about the law pertaining to carriageways - as it seemed to her that the officers did not appear to know what they were talking about.
Mrs A Harris
Hackhurst Lane Piggery
19 March 2018
I was disgusted with your response to my complaint dated 1/2/18. It was clearly a complaint, it said it and & was addressed to the Complaints Officer.
The complaints concerned the attitude of the planning officer, Mr C Bending, & his failure then refusal to carry out his duties in a proper & impartial way.
I should like to add to this complaint:
1/ The failure of WDC to respond within the 10 working days prescribed.
2/ Mr Bending failing to inform the planning Committee that all the roads laid down in he 1818 Enclosure of Laughton Common Act are owned by the Earl of Chichester & that this widths, & rights of access over them are laid down in statute.
Before progressing this complaint to the Monitoring Officer, I should like to make a request under the Freedom of Information Act for a list of the premises notified formally of WD/2017/2577.
Mrs Harris then applied for copy of the list of persons who Wealden DC say were served notice. We should explain that in many cases in the past this Council have argued that if the correct notices have not been served on the owners of any land, that they cannot consider the application. This has been one of the favourite blockers used by Victorio Scarpa and Geoff Johnson, formerly solicitors to this Council. These two have long ago been replaced, thank heavens, hopefully for legal persons who would want to uphold the law and have a higher moral fibre than those we have had the misfortune to witness.
Wealden of course have two sets of values. They often let cases through where they know incorrect notices have not been served if it suits them. On the other hand when trying to obstruct a member of the public, they often insist on correct notices being served.
Statute though is clear, if correct notices have not been served - and/or if you don't know the ownership of land, then that involves placing an advertisement in the local press - and that satisfies the legal criteria. In this case no Notice was served on the owner of the carriageway and no Advertisement was placed in any newspaper.
No amount of fudging can ever rectify a defective application or any such procedural impropriety, that would clearly render any deliberation that followed an Abuse of Process.
Mrs A Harris
Hackhurst Lane Piggery
Re: COMPLAINT Chris Bending
6 June 2018
Thank you for sending me the results of my Information request ref. 6678, and the letter dated 22/3/18 from Mr Williams which I definitely had not received.
I have now had a chance to show the list to most people on the industrial estate and get their response. Many of the business are no longer there, several have gone for over a decade.
WHITE GATES - Mr & Mrs Stevens
GRACELANDS - Mr & Mrs Crecroft - definitely did not receive notification.
Not one single person (boss, worker, or passer by) saw a planning notice.
Almost everyone who knew about it, had, like me only seen a much photocopied sketch map off of the internet with no indication of the date of any discussion.
I wish to add 4 more complaints to my list:
1/ Mr Williams did not send me the letter dated 22/3
2/ My information request was acknowledged by email on 3/4 despite my refusal to give my e-mail address or to be contacted in that way.
3/ Graceland, my northern neighbour & Whitegates, my southern neighbour were on the list but not notified. I wasn't on the list. (Was the list compiled after my complaint?)
4/ The Planning notice for WD/2017/2577/F was not publicly displayed as required by law.
SHE HAS A POINT - You can see from the plan above that Mrs Harris would indeed be unable to access her farm. Almost anything is capable of being a material planning consideration. Building onto a carriageway is not permissible where the limitations are clearly laid down in statute.
The good news is that Kelvin Williams is leaving this council, we also note that Charles Lant is also flying the nest. This should give whoever replaces these old soldiers a fresh start. A word of advice to Chris Bending then, it is not a good idea to push ahead with an application when a member of the public phones up to provide helpful information as to an incomplete application.
If it had been that correct notices had been served, the owner of the carriageway would have been able to explain why the proposed erection of a fence to block access would be bound to cause problems for other users of this access road. Also, the law as to access and widths would then have been on the table.
Had Mr Bending taken the time to listen to this experienced farmer and campaigner, with several appeals under her belt, he would have learned a lot, and this complaint would not have been necessary. We wonder if Mr Bending was taking the hear for Mr Williams who should have known and advised his team as to the carriageway issue?
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