Conservative-run Wealden district commits to supporting small and medium-sized businesses by providing much-needed new units on land it owns in Crowborough.
The authority owns the 1.8 acre site on the edge of Wealden Industrial Estate in Farningham Road, Crowborough, and has ruled out selling it on preferring to retain and develop it instead.
At a meeting of the Cabinet committee this week, councillors agreed to develop and retain the site and progress towards detailed planning permission. The decision is expected to be ratified by Full Council later this month.
The plans are also supported by Crowborough Chamber of Commerce. Jeremy Woolger, chairman and president of the chamber, said, “We welcome any development of commercial space in Crowborough as availability of land is very limited.
“We would particularly welcome the right type of business units being built to help those smaller businesses which want to expand into larger premises.”
Only half of the Crowborough site can be developed due to protected trees to the north and west of the site and steep banks – but the site represents an excellent opportunity to deliver much needed employment land in Crowborough, attract new business to the area and accommodate local growth in addition to delivering an income.
An outline scheme would provide for units with a total floor area of around 12,500 square feet and planning uses could include general industrial, storage and distribution, light industrial, office and potentially retail.
Work on site will start immediately with ecological works, ground investigation and highways surveys taking place as part of the initial assessment of the site.
Conservative councillor Philip Lunn, Wealden District Council’s deputy-leader and portfolio holder for Commercial, Economic Development and Leisure, said, “There has been a shortage of smaller/starter units in the Crowborough area and the Farningham Road site could help to alleviate the position. This project would provide a valuable opportunity to contribute to the local economy, and also to create employment opportunities.
“Strategically, development of the site provides an opportunity for the Conservative-led council to retain a direct financial interest, which would generate an annual income stream and full payback of the investment within 15 years. Obviously, there is also the capital value of the whole, which will appreciate over time, should consideration be given to selling in future years.
“Thoughtful delivery of this site will also contribute towards the council’s net zero commitment, for instance by creating additional business floor space and jobs within the district – to help reduce the need for some residents to travel out of the town for work purposes.