Welcome to the SWAB Neighbourhood Plan
Update - March 2017
Unfortunately, it has been necessary for our work to be put on hold since October. We have been waiting for Horsham District Council (HDC) to provide feedback on the large amount of work we have already completed. They will no longer be taking a 'light touch' approach and will want far more involvement following local recent legal challenges and examiner reports on other local Neighbourhood Plans. Their increased involvement will be a positive change.
We now have a meeting arranged for early April with representatives of HDC, with our consultants and with our Steering Group members. This will enable work to start again. Further information will follow on this website and through the Parish Councils in due course and as soon as possible.
Update - January 2017
Work on our Neighbourhood Plan goes into another year!
We can report that we attended a Neighbourhood Plan Conference on 25th January, organised by Horsham District Council. Many of the 33 groups currently working on Neighbourhood Plans in the Horsham District were represented and we were pleased to secure eight places, with representatives of each of our four parishes being in attendance. We were also able to have one of our consultants at the Conference.
The purpose of the Conference was for HDC to explain how they will provide additional support for groups in the future. It was also to hear how they will no longer want to take a 'light touch' approach, but instead will want to become more immersed in the systems, procedures and techniques in collecting data and assessing land use. This will make our plan more robust. This new approach has come about as a result of recent successful challenges by developers on Neighbourhood Plans, particularly against the Henfield Neighbourhood Plan in the High Court.
The news for the SWAB Neighbourhood Plan is good!!
We are at exactly the right stage to take advantage of this additional support and to make changes to our pre-submission document. Other information presented by HDC also indicates that -
Site assessments - The methods now required by HDC in assessing housing sites are very similar to the work already completed by our team. We have been extremely thorough in our ground work and have kept an objective view in every case. The work we have done was applauded but we do have additional information to collate on each site and need to strengthen our evidence base. The feedback on what we have achieved to date was extremely encouraging.
Local Green Spaces - The approach we have taken towards recommending Local Green Spaces was considered as being correct. Much work has done by our Focus Group volunteers to identify key sites within our parishes worthy of future protection. Again, our evidence base will need to be better developed.
Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA) - Useful information was provided on the required information when completing an SEA. We will be meeting with our consultants to discuss this further.
Remember that updates on the progress of our Neighbourhood Plan are also provided at monthly Parish Council meetings.
Update - December 2016
Members of the SWAB Steering Group have now met with Norman Kwan, the new Neighbourhood Planning Officer at Horsham District Council.
In the light of recent developments with the Henfield NP and the Storrington, Washington and Sullington NP, HDC have confirmed that they want a closer working relationship with those groups working on Neighbourhood Plans in the Horsham District. We understand that there are currently 33 Plans, all at different stages.
HDC are now looking at all of the work completed by the Steering Group and the Focus Groups and will be providing constructive feedback. They certainly appreciate the amount of work completed and the depth of care taken in its preparation. They have spoken about taking a sensible, considered and long term approach to any recommendations and requirements they place on our Neighbourhood Plan. It will continue to reflect what local people and businesses consider to be important for the sustainability of our communities.
The increased input from HDC at this relatively late stage should be seen as a positive intervention which will only strengthen our Neighbourhood Plan to protect us in the future against unwanted, unnecessary and unplanned development.
A Parish Conference is being organised by HDC at the end of January. The purpose of this meeting will be to discuss Neighbourhood Plans in the Horsham District and the future involvement of the District Council. We will have a clearer view of how our Neighbourhood Plan can proceed after this conference. We will then be able to readjust our timelines and will provide further information at that time.
Thank you to all those local resident and Councillor volunteers who have given up their time and expertise over the last two and a half years to help bring us to this stage in our Neighbourhood Plan.
We will succeed in what we set out to achieve.. it's just taking a little more time, energy and effort than any of us first anticipated!
News Headlines November 2016
- Henfield Neighbourhood Plan overturned by High Court
- Henfield decision may have a huge impact on remaining work to be completed on SWAB NP
- Likely delay to SWAB NP pending recruitment of new Neighbourhood Planning Officer at HDC.
Henfield NP overturned
On 17th October HDC announced that the High Court had overturned the decision to adopt the Henfield Neighbourhood Plan following a Judicial Review requested by housing developers Stonegate Homes Ltd and Littleworth Properties Ltd.
Apparently, the plan excluded certain land to the west of the village on the basis that the local community believed that development at this site this would result in significant traffic disruption. Despite the plan having been accepted by the independent examiner and approved by referendum, the judge found that there was insufficient evidence to support the decision to exclude the site in question.
Commenting on the High Court decision, Leader of HDC Cllr Ray Dawe said ”We will also review what other measures may need to be put in place to ensure that the chances of such circumstances occurring against other neighbourhood plans are minimised.”
Impact of the Henfield decision upon SWAB Neighbourhood Plan
The SWAB team has always aimed to base site assessment decisions as far as possible upon clear evidence against agreed assessment criteria and to avoid placing too much emphasis upon anecdotal statements we receive from time to time where these are not supported by an appropriate evidence base. For this reason we believe the housing assessment recommendations to be basically sound. However the Henfield decision is a timely reminder that we should review our recommendations and the associated evidence at the pre-sub stage.
Of more concern is the expectation, as alluded to by Cllr Dawe above, that HDC may now seek to introduce new measures to minimize a repeat of the Henfield decision. Hopefully, if HDC decide simply to audit the criteria we have used for site selection and the associated evidence base, any delay may be minimal. However, if HDC take a more proscriptive approach they may decide to introduce their own set of site assessment and selection criteria, then we may have to embark on a very significant rework exercise, which could have implications upon funding and resources. Either way we have been informed that HDC will be taking a more “hands-on” approach to NP support.
At the same time, the HDC Neighbourhood Planning Officer Mrs Maggie Williams, with whom we have consulted to date, has now been replaced by Mr Norman Kwan. Mr Kwan started in the post from mid-November and we understand HDC will be organising a Neighbourhood Planning Conference early in the New Year.
Update on housing & local green space recommendations
One land owner has withdrawn their offer of land for new housing, namely sites 15a,b & c at Maudlyn Farm, Bramber. Three sites that were initially not recommended, are being re-evaluated to ensure that our current recommendations are sound and whether there could be a case for adding one or more of these sites (all of which are outside the SDNPA) to our new housing development recommendations in the Pre-Sub.
SWAB NP Timescales
The SWAB NP Pre-submission document is now close to completion and our expectation prior to the Henfield decision was to be ready to commence the next public consultation phase in December 2016.
However, given the current uncertainty, it is not possible to commit to this and we will need to await further guidance from HDC before we can advise on a revised timetable for the SWAB Neighbourhood Plan.
Unfortunately, our Neighbourhood Plan must therefore now be PUT ON HOLD until we receive clear insructions from Horsham District Council on how they wish to proceed.
If you would like to contact any of the team working on the Neighbourhood Plan our e mail address is email@example.com (just click to connect) or you can ring the Steyning Parish Council Clerk on 01903 812042.