A six-and-half acre plot of land on the western edge of Combe Valley Countryside Park, which used to be a part of Pebsham Farm, was sold off last year. Estate agents Lambert & Foster marketed the plot as “strategically located land”. Now it has emerged that the buyer is a company based in Dubai, Trafalgar Land & Properties Limited, whose business is investing in UK land – more particularly, recognising the potential of greenfield sites in areas judged as favourably disposed for housing development, exerting pressure through the planning system, and capitalising on the resulting gain in land value.

The basic price paid by Trafalgar was £75,000, but the sale was subject to an overage agreement under which 35% of any uplift in value, resulting from grant of planning consent for any non-agricultural or equestrian use for the next 30 years, will be payable to the seller.

CREDIT: David Dennis

Trafalgar does not hide its intentions. Its website boasts of a similar operation conducted at Sevenoaks where it bought a 17.7-acre site in two phases over a five-year period between 2016 and 2021. The land purchased in the initial phase (7.2 acres) “has since been sold to sophisticated investors and will be promoted through the local plan, along with the new phase, in due course”. 

David Dennis, founder of the Friends of Combe Valley, describes the area around Pebsham Lake as having “probably the greatest amount of wildlife variety in the valley” – he enumerates cormorants, spotted flycatchers, redwings, Pyrausta moths, herons, kingfishers, a range of ducks, greater crested grebes, dragonflies and damsels, and many butterflies. The 80-plus cormorant roost would be especially threatened by the close proximity of housing at the lake edge.

Bexhill town councillor Sharon Blagrove has formed a new Facebook group styled Save Our Bexhill Green Spaces. The group has gathered over 300 members in only a few days with the aim of conserving wildlife and landscape and opposing any further housing development in the area that may cause a loss of green space. What may aid them rather more conclusively than any political programme is the risk of pollution of the site from the nearby waste tip. In addition to frequent fly-tipping into the field in question, a serious leak of leachate has turned the footpath at Pebsham Lake into “a black morass” according to Mr Dennis. Might Trafalgar’s ”sophisticated investors” be concerned that this turn of events wasn’t on the prospectus?

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