Knockhatch Adventure Park threatened by Hailsham Livestock Market
The future of Knockhatch Adventure Park is threatened by a development proposed in a planning application that has just been submitted to Wealden District Council (Council Planning Application Ref: WD/ 2022/2878/MAO). The planning application proposes to relocate the Hailsham Cattle Market to the fields at the main entrance to Knockhatch Adventure Park Lane, to be accessed from the Diplock Way roundabout on the A22.
We do not feel this is a suitable site for Hailsham Cattle Market.
Customers come to Knockhatch Adventure Park to enjoy all of the attraction that we have to offer, including the animals at the petting farm and zoo. We really feel that a cattle market being at the beginning of our entrance lane is totally inappropriate and the polar opposite to what we are trying to achieve, where families can come and visit animals in a lovely environment. If the market is granted permission to relocate, the first thing that our customers will see is numerous lorries full of livestock being brought on site, which is the last stop for many cattle before they are lined up to be slaughtered.
At peak times at our Adventure Park, vehicles entering our site can be backed up all the way to the A22, and sometimes even cause the A22 roundabout to come to a standstill. This position appears to be overlooked by the cattle market’s professional team.
We are really worried that if planning is granted, it will significantly delay our customers getting in and out of the Park and make the backing up onto the A22 far worse. There will be delays on the road during the lengthy construction period. Once operating, the way the market has been designed will mean there will be huge articulated lorries, tractors and trailers and other livestock vehicles driving across the lane at least three times a day per vehicle. This will block up the lane for Knockhatch Adventure Park customers, causing more congestion in and around the area on market days.
We do have an emergency access that we have had to use a handful of times when the lane has been completely blocked, which leads onto Hempstead Lane and Arlington Road West, and if the market planning application is granted, we foresee having to use the emergency accesses far more frequently, possibly every time there is a farm auction!
We are ready to upgrade our internal roads to these points to make this last resort of using the emergency accesses suitable for our customers but that will mean more roads in the area. However, for our visitors who visit us by foot from the town, they will no longer be able to walk through the site on market days, as it will become unpassable with all of the cattle market HGV traffic, putting even more cars onto the road network.
There has been no consultation with Knockhatch Adventure Park by the applicants, South East Marts Ltd, despite our attempts to reach out to them. They seem to have dismissed other more suitable sites where Wealden District Council are looking for businesses to establish or relocate to create local employment centres. This would include the Knights Farm site near the Boship roundabout and other local sites already identified as suitable for employment uses. The site that the cattle market has chosen was identified by the Council as being unsuitable in its own employment land study. By allowing such industrial development to cross the A22, it fundamentally breaks the natural barrier between Hailsham and its rural surroundings. This leaves the door open for others to seek permission to develop all along the western side of the A22.
Indeed, the market relocation site is also subject to extensive flooding during heavy rain events as some of our guests will be aware, and so the site is not sequentially appropriate in flood risk terms as it has the potential to increase flooding elsewhere, especially when there are more suitable sites available elsewhere.
Our neighbours at Bushy Wood Activity Centre are also opposed to the plans. For over 60 years, they have been bringing visitors from all over the country to a beautiful rural woodland setting. They too provide an important and growing contribution to the local economy. Their activities will be ruined by noise and smells, and by traffic shining into their property.
Between Knockhatch Adventure Park and Bushy Wood Activity Centre we have developed a thriving leisure industry in Arlington Parish and there seems to be a misunderstanding by South East Marts that they are staying in Hailsham if they move to the proposed site, when in fact they will actually be moving the market out of the Hailsham Parish into the Arlington Parish. We fear that Hailsham will lose its incredible historic market town status, possibly with the Royal Charter having to be removed as no longer hosting the market with its relocation. Our side of the A22 is far more suitable for leisure than this massive industrial sized operation that the market is proposing.
We have 350,000 visitors a year visiting Knockhatch Adventure Park. the proposed cattle market is a significant threat to the future of Knockhatch Adventure Park and the other businesses on our site.
We hope that Wealden District Council will not allow Knockhatch Adventure Park’s future to be put in danger and refuse to grant planning permission as it is an unsuitable greenfield site outside of Hailsham, and the traffic and environmental impacts are too great. There are other sites better suited for the market’s relocation, including the Council’s own promoted sites.
Please can you support Knockhatch Adventure Park by commenting on the planning application here by 24th February 2023
If you feel able to, submit an objection to the planning application online at https://planning.wealden.gov.uk/plancomment.aspx?recno=159933 (you will need to accept the terms before the page opens, and submissions will be published on the planning database)
OR submit an objection email or letter to Wealden District Council planning by email, quoting reference WD/2022/2878/MAO – firstname.lastname@example.org – (please note your email/letter would be published on the planning database)
It is not helpful for us to template responses, please speak from your perspective when objecting, but please note that the planning committee can only consider certain issues, so please talk about how the development will impact upon you (or your children where relevant), Wealden District Council give examples as;
Traffic delays on arrival to Knockhatch Adventure Park
Traffic delays on departing Knockhatch Adventure Park
Pedestrian access across the A22
Pedestrian access to and on Knockhatch Lane
Design, visual appearance and materials
Noise and disturbance from use
Nature conservation and effect on protected species
Intrusion into the open countryside
**The closing date for objections is 24th February 2023**
Thank you for your help and support!