After a rollercoaster ride securing full planning permission, due to staff shortages in both Lewes District Council and several departments in East Sussex County Council, we were able to submit our Bio-remediation Proposals to Natural England in May. Again we encountered considerable delays in getting a response, citing staff shortages due to the COVID pandemic. When it finally came, it was extremely unhelpful!

Luckily, our ecology consultants, Bakerwell, came up with an alternative licensing route and we received the necessary licence some three weeks ago. We were then in a rush to get started on site with the necessary bio-remediation actions required under the planning conditions applied to our site. This has been required, following the discovery of Great Crested Newts on another site across the Laughton Road. We are also required to demonstrate “a minimum of a 10% Biodiversity Uplift overall”, as part of the new planning conditions required by Lewes District Council, which came into effect in 2021.

Thanks to the huge efforts made by Grant Parsons, a local builder and owner of the site, we now have the required log piles and hibernacula to create habitats for invertebrates, beetles, insects etc., as well as places for hibernation over winter. In addition, reptile fences have been erected around the perimeter of the actual build site to prevent harm to reptiles and amphibians during construction of our houses.

We are now able to construct the three ditch crossings to provide the access points to the build site off the Laughton Road, together with connections to the electricity and water mains. Once this work is complete, we will be erecting security fencing around the build site, which in turn will then allow us to begin groundworks, including foundations and installation works for foul sewers and storm water drains.

As well as the generosity of Grant and Karen Parsons in donating the land to RACLT for our four affordable homes, we would also like to thank our amazing architect, Emma Petrokow, who has worked tirelessly for us and helped us navigate our way through the endless layers of bureaucracy that is part and parcel of today’s planning system. Without her efforts, we would not be where we are now – so a very big thank you to Emma.