Horam – frequently asked questions2020-12-10T10:27:00+00:00

Proposal for new Custom and Self-Build homes
on Chiddingly Road, Horam

Frequently asked questions

We consulted on our proposals for Horam in October 2020. Below is our response to the most frequently asked and important questions raised during the consultation.

We don’t need new homes in Horam2020-12-02T11:58:25+00:00

Government sets minimum targets for new homes in each district of England. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) requires Councils to enable developers to build an agreed number of homes each year to cater for anticipated growth in the area. The number of homes required is calculated using a method provided by Government which gives a minimum figure for Wealden District of about 1,200 new homes per year.

As it stands, the Council need at least 1,700 more homes to meet this minimum requirement over the next five years. As such, there is a Government mandated need for more new homes in the area.

More specifically, we have commissioned research looking at the local demand for Custom and Self-Build homes. Using information from Wealden District Council’s register of interest in Self-Build and Custom Housebuilding, Buildstore and NaCSBA research we can evidence a strong demand for this type of home in Horam. Furthermore, our research shows that the demand in Wealden District has one of the highest relative demands per capita in England. This Custom and Self-Build needs assessment is submitted as part of our planning application.

Large or wholesale development such as this doesn’t reflect existing local need2020-12-02T11:57:37+00:00

The beauty of Custom and Self-Build homes is that new homes are demand-led, where homeowners get directly involved in setting their own priorities for the look and type of home being built.

Investing in a Custom or Self-Build home is also an investment in the local community. Research has shown that when people invest the time and energy to design and build their own homes, they become much more invested in the area and are more likely to live in their home for longer than people that buy from a developer.

In addition, the investment of building a dream home means new residents develop stronger ties to the local area and participate more often in local life, becoming active members of the local community, using and contributing to local services.

And finally, these close ties to the local area help provide further benefits during the build period itself, as the smaller scale lends itself well to using local tradespeople and suppliers, boosting the local economy.

We’ve created a Custom and Self-Build factsheet, which you can download here, to explain more about the process and the advantages of this route. There is also a bit more information on our website.

The local infrastructure of Horam (doctors, schools, etc.) are already oversubscribed and cannot cope with more people2020-12-10T11:47:26+00:00

Horam and Wealden District have experienced considerable growth in recent years. We understand this puts pressure on local services and infrastructure, which often take a while to adapt to and catch up with demand, and that this is frustrating for residents.

House building is extremely effective in stimulating the economy, and new people do bring greater investment and growth in services and infrastructure. In terms of calculating the economic benefits of development, a study undertaken on behalf of the UK Contractors Group found that a £1 investment in construction results in £2.84 in terms of benefits to the wider economy.

Additionally, as it stands, our project will generate an estimated New Homes Bonus of about £180k and additional Council Tax of over £260k in the six years after completion. This, alongside any Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) contributions, is an important funding source which can be used by the Council to improve existing infrastructure including roads, education and the provision of healthcare that will benefit Horam.

Chiddingly Road is not able to cope with the additional traffic your development will bring2020-12-02T12:02:42+00:00

We appointed civil and highway engineer Canham Consulting to undertake a transport assessment and to assess traffic flow along Chiddingly Road in light of our proposed development and other likely developments coming forward.

The detailed modelling of future traffic flows demonstrated there will be minimal traffic impact on the wider highway network.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, traffic is likely to be atypical, so we based our assessment on traffic counts from the previous year submitted as part of other recent applications.

We are also proposing minor improvements to Chiddingly Road, adjacent to our site: a new footway to the north of our site entrance along the southern side of Chiddingly Road, connecting to the existing footway on the northern side of Chiddingly Road via a new pedestrian crossing. This will provide a safe walking route to the village and the local primary school.

We’ve discussed all our plans with East Sussex County Council, acting as the Highway Authority, and they are content with the conclusions.

More detail is available in the Transport Assessment submitted as part of our planning application.

The site floods every winter, developing it in this way will lead to more flooding2020-12-02T12:03:56+00:00

We know the site has some areas of surface water flooding. The site is ‘greenfield’ and does not currently have any existing foul drainage or surface water drainage infrastructure.

We appointed civil and structural engineering practice Price & Myers to undertake a detailed flood risk and drainage assessment and prepare an initial drainage design and maintenance strategy. The proposed design will improve drainage and protect against flooding even in rare 1-in-100-year events. We’ve also applied a ‘climate change factor’ to ensure the worst possible case has been considered.

New Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) features such as raingardens, permeable paving, a basin, and below ground stores are included to effectively attenuate water and discharge it very slowly into the existing drainage ditch to the southeast of the site.

The basin will not typically have water in it, it’s designed to only be needed after large storm events when the water has built up.

Foul water will be discharged into the public foul sewer in Chiddingly Road.

More detail is available in the Drainage Strategy submitted as part of our planning application.

The process of removing the topsoil, and of heavy machinery moving round the site, compacts the Wadhurst Clay making it almost impermeable meaning soakaways to comply with SuDS do not work; rainwater harvesting is a much better solution2020-12-03T11:42:00+00:00

Indeed, the British Geological Survey (BGS) Maps show that Wadhurst Clay Formation underlies the site. This means the flood risk from groundwater is low, as Wadhurst Clay will prevent the transfer of high concentrations of groundwater. But conversely it means that infiltration techniques such as soakaways are not suitable for surface water drainage.

We appointed civil and structural engineering practice Price & Myers to undertake a detailed flood risk and drainage assessment and prepare an initial drainage design and maintenance strategy. The proposed design will improve drainage and protect against flooding even in rare 1-in-100-year events. We’ve also applied a ‘climate change factor’ to ensure the worst possible case has been considered.

The possibility of implementing Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) at the site was assessed using a standard hierarchy of preferred surface water management methods:

  1. Rainwater harvesting promotes the storage and re-use of rainwater collected from roofs and hard surfaced areas. Individual rainwater butts are proposed for each property. These contribute to the reduction of runoff rates and volumes within a development.
  2. Because infiltration is not possible, surface water will be attenuated and slowly released into the existing drainage ditch to the southeast of the site. New SuDS features such as raingardens, permeable paving, a basin, and below ground stores are included to effectively attenuate the water.
  3. The basin will not typically have water in it, it’s designed to only be needed after large storm events when the water has built up. During a rare 1 in 100 year plus climate change event, the water may reach the top of the basin. In the event of an even greater storm, the basin may overflow. In which case it’s been designed to also flow into the existing ditch (which should no longer typically fill with water due to the new basin).

More detail is available in the Drainage Strategy submitted as part of our planning application. A maintenance strategy is also included to ensure everything continues to work as it should.

The existing biodiversity should be retained as much as possible2020-12-03T11:44:48+00:00

We agree. Enhancing biodiversity by creating new habitats and foraging opportunities for wildlife is key in the considered landscape design we’ve submitted at planning.

We appointed landscape architect and ecology experts Collington Winter and ecology consultancy Ecology by Design to undertake detailed surveys of present wildlife and to come up with a sensitive landscape masterplan that avoids damage to existing habitats and enhances them wherever possible.

The design incorporates a pond with emergent wetland vegetation creating a haven for wildlife. Bird and bat boxes will be installed onto existing trees and on the external walls of houses. External lighting is kept to an absolute safe minimum to avoid pollution and disturbing bats. A management strategy will ensure that deadwood is retained on-site wherever possible. A green edge is maintained along most of the boundaries by retaining the existing hedgerow and vegetations. We will legally stipulate a two-metre no-build zone within each plot to ensure the survival and maintenance of the green edge. Boundaries of traditional rural fencing in combination with hedgerows, ensure green links are preserved and enhanced with new habitats created. Where any wooden fences do occur, they are fitted with hedgehog holes. The existing native hedgerows, which define the site and form a key element in the landscape, will be managed by traditional methods to ensure their longevity and gaps planted with species of local provenance. Finally, the existing woodland is protected and enhanced with new hibernacula and refugia for amphibian and reptile species.

It will be different when the homes are built; what is conditional to permission is not enforced by the Council2020-12-03T11:46:06+00:00

We have submitted a Design Code as part of our application. The purpose of the Design Code is to explain and ultimately safeguard the design principles and construction quality that make the development the best it can be. It will help ensure the new homes fit in with the village, are well-designed, and built to a high standard. The Design Code will apply to everyone involved in the project’s delivery.

We need more one- and two-bed houses for people to get on the housing ladder; only people from outside of Wealden can afford bigger homes2020-12-03T11:47:02+00:00

We’ve since had further dialogue with the Housing Development Officer at Wealden District Council who confirmed 50% of applicants on the Housing Register are in need of one-bed accommodation. Accordingly, we’ve increased the number of one-bed homes within the development. One- and two-bed homes account for half the homes available.

We’ve allocated 8 homes (36% of the total number which slightly exceeds the Local Plan Policy) as ‘affordable’. These will be offered as shared ownership and affordable rent.

It is worth noting that Custom and Self-Build provides a small degree of ‘affordability’ over the equivalent traditionally built home. With the buyer taking on more responsibility, lower Stamp Duty Land Tax (as it’s only due on the price of the land), CIL exemption, and the ability to complete homes in stages over time, the same house on the same site can cost a lot less than the usual market price.

Your houses look nothing like traditional Sussex buildings2020-12-03T11:48:59+00:00

We’ve studied the Wealden Design Guide and done or own survey of buildings in Horam and the surrounding area.

Traditional oast houses and barns evidently tie the village back to its agricultural history. Houses developed along the main roads from the late 19th and early 20th century are clearly under the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement. Buildings are predominantly built of local materials, such as red clay brick and tile, and stained timber. Many houses have red flat hung tiles cladding the external walls of the upper floors as well as the roofs. Roofs are often half-hipped in form.

These are all characteristics we have referenced in the Design Code submitted with our application and which will be available in a palette of materials and choice of building form available to custom and self-builders.

Painted houses are not in keeping with area at all2020-12-03T11:49:52+00:00

On reflection, we agree. Learning from the Wealden Design Guide and our own further studies of precedents in Horam and the surrounding area we have removed the coloured paints from the palette of materials available for facades. There are a few examples of white painted brick facades which we have left in as an option.

We observed that, typically, wooden doors and windows are painted black, white, or dark grey, with the occasional subtle colour for a front door. We have therefore kept a limited and muted palette of colours available for woodwork.

It would be good to see some bungalows built instead as these are less obtrusive and may cater better for older and less able people2020-12-10T10:25:29+00:00

The beauty of Custom and Self-Build homes is that new homes are demand-led, where homeowners get directly involved in setting their own priorities for the look and type of home being built.

The majority of self-builders tend to be older people building for their retirement (74% of self-builders are aged 45 to 65+: Wallace, A, Ford and Quillgars D, 2013; Understanding the Changing Landscape of the UK Self Build Market; University of York and Lloyds Banking Group). This is probably because they see the benefit of being able to create a home that’s bespoke to their particular needs from the outset rather than having to retrofit an unsuitable one.

Whilst we have not specifically included bungalows in the development, the nature of Self-Build means that plot buyers may apply for their own planning permission should they wish as long as they stick to the rules set out in the Design Code.

We’ve created a Custom and Self-Build factsheet, which you can download here, to explain more about the process and the advantages of this route. There is also a bit more information on our website.

Where are the solar panels and other green energy alternatives?2020-12-03T11:52:21+00:00

Typically, because Custom and Self-Builders are not building homes as speculative financial assets to sell or rent, but as places to live themselves, logically they build the best, most sustainable, most healthy, most future-proofed homes they can.

Leaper is setting a high benchmark by embedding a ‘fabric first’ approach, ensuring a low energy and sustainable development, within the Design Code. The energy hierarchy of Be Lean, Be Clean, and Be Green is used to inform the design.

This of course means, our design code allows for building-integrated photovoltaic tiles. Additionally, we’ve set rules ensuring a minimum thermal performance and air tightness of materials. Materials are selected for their durability as well as having lower embodied environmental impact. The design includes use of efficient mechanical ventilation and heat recovery systems and prohibits the use of gas boilers. Buildings are also designed to mitigate the risk of summer overheating and respond to anticipated future climatic conditions with scope for additional shading and increased ventilation.

There is mention of bird boxes, Horam used to be famous as a breeding area for swifts2020-12-03T13:52:15+00:00

Thank you! We hadn’t come across this in our research, but we see Horam has a history as a breeding area for swifts. Unlike swallows or house martins, swifts are clean and do not make a mess when they nest in the walls of the houses, so we’ve incorporated swift boxes under the eaves on certain buildings.

If you’re interested in building your ideal home in Horam please fill out a form and let us know.

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