Dear XXX [insert] Lewes planning personHello residents and friends
of East Chiltington - is right now really the best time for YOU to write
THAT letter about Eton's destructive new town?
pause and think how best to hurt these plans
Zsolt Kerekes -
Chiltington Lane, March 31, 2021
Did you get the email?
If you were on the list and
got that request in recent days from the campaign group - to start
letter writing about the Eton new town plan in East Chiltington - then I'm
asking you to pause and ask yourself - is this the best time? Maybe there's
something else you can do instead - which could have more effect.
all feel angry. We all feel shocked that something so horrible might happen
here. But we've only got so many bullets and limited time and energy. Let's
make it count to the max.
In some ways it feels like deja vu. 5 years
ago smart people in our community were investigating behind the scenes facts
to get us prepared and then we were all writing letters about the
despoiling plans of those days - the disgraceful Hollycroft Fields
the village green) and the odd case of the
Farm in Chiltington Lane - both of which our community decisively won.
East Chiltingtons we're good at this letter writing stuff.
letters are out there in the public domain in the archives of the planning
department to prove it. And those plans were squashed despite the planning
department being on the wrong side of the residents' interests at the outset.
With Hollycroft it was Lewes District Council which owned the land. With the
Caviar Farm - the planners didn't understand the
and they clung to the illusion that this was another agricultural scheme
- so they were anti-resident from day #1
What made things worse in
the anti-Caviar campaigns was that the planning department kept losing our
objecting letters and emails.We had to count the objections known to be
going out from our neighbours and friends and compare them to the objections
which were officially logged on the LDC site. LDC made many disappear.
Sometimes through technical incompetence and in one occasion by crass
censorship when 2 residents in the same household had names with the same
initials and one of their letters were removed.
It's important to make
every letter count.
Let's take a pause - because we're all
fired up about the Eton-Welbeck's plans to destroy East Chiltington. I
compared it to the disgraceful use of DDT and pesticides in a recent blog -
Final Spring in
Novington Lane? (That was the polite version.)
Why do we feel
compelled to write planning letters?
1 - makes us feel
good - getting these words out of our systems stops them churning around in
our heads and going nuts. Even if you just write them and never send them - like
that email to your boss (which would get you fired) or that text to those
annoying builders (who have made such a mess - but you still need them to
come back and finish the jobs they started - please). Relationship
troubles... And as a private memory for yourself. So in years to come when
you've survived the current crises - you can remind yourself what a shitty time
you went through.
2 - voice your concerns, make a
difference This is what the campaign group's letter campaign is asking you
to do. You want to take part to show you care. The lesson from past campaigns is
that these letters DO have a profound effect at changing what happens.
But I think that now is the wrong time to write to the planners.
That's because your letters will be wasted. LDC doesn't have an
official plan process opened yet which can cope with what you send them and
capture them in a way which can be leveraged to beat the new town.
letters will disappear from the public record.
If there are lot of
letters - as in hundreds - it will piss the planners off - because they have
other live cases they're working on. This part of the planning system is not
yet able to deal effectively with the letters you write.
thing is letter writing fatigue. Let's say you write this letter. You've
missed hours of being out in the sun after a year of being cooped up. The next
time you get an email urging you to write (it's the right time - the plan is
up on the LDC website) you might say - I did my bit already and nothing
changed - this time it's someone else's turn.
Someone else to
write to?- better targets? - elections...
I'm not saying - don't
write letters. Just that the local planning officers are not best placed to
act on your letters right now,
How about this as an alternative?
council elections coming up in May.
Why not write to those
standing for election and ask them to say publicly what they think about
the Eton plans?
The list of candidates is still open for nominations
till April 8th. So you might have to wait till then. You can
current councillor by postcode using this page. (For East Chiltington the
Council area is Chailey.)
That way - whoever wins (because they'll all
say they support the residents) will have said it in the public record. These
statements of political support for East Chiltington's residents and friends
will be a resource which can be quoted and reused in future campaign
Whatever you decide to do - good luck with it. It's not
for me or anyone to tell you what to do. It's a democracy - we can all decide
for ourselves. I just hate the idea that any of your magic letter writing
bullets being wasted.
We're fighting a common enemy and will
weaponise our talents in many different ways. Hard times ahead - who knows when
we'll win? Could be this year, next, or 5 years ahead. So for now - enjoy the
sun. Enjoy the walks. And sorry if I took up so much of your time.
Lastly... if you've got this far and you're still wondering what all
that was about. What email? It's a private communication. I'm not going to
repeat any of it here.
If you want to see it for yourself - just go to
- sign up and tick the right boxes - wanna write a letter.