East Hoathly Village Concerns Blog

lots of acronyms – please see categories: Abbreviations

Latest on the WDC Local Plan (27th April 2017 special thanks to Nick Daines)

Responding to a question from SVC Group Secretary (www.stopvinescorner.co.uk): ……has the WDC Local Plan ‘progress’ gone a bit ‘quiet’?
Nick Daines replies:
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You are right, publically at least, progress on the local plan has gone quiet. No evidence studies/documents are available even though the draft plan makes many references to them.

The draft plan was first available in the agenda papers published on 3 March for the Local Plan Subcommittee and Joint Planning Committee’s 13 March meetings. The proposal was for 14,102 houses to be built between 2013 – 2028. Wealden acknowledged that NOx damage to Ashdown Forest may be an issue and was modelling the effect from 11,456 houses as an alternative. The recommendation before both committees was that the portfolio holder recommends the draft plan to Full Council for consultation and submission.

On 13 March, Wealden told both committees that the 14,101 houses would cause unacceptable damage to the Forest and they would be proceeding with the 11,456 houses. This would mean changing policies in the draft plan and the housing allocations. However, the recommendation was unchanged and both committees duly accepted it!

The agenda papers for the 22 March Full Council meeting recommended that the draft plan be approved for publication for consultation and submission to the Secretary of State.  However, at the meeting Wealden accepted that the evidence base was not complete (notably the Sustainability Appraisal, which is a statutory requirement) and that further work was needed on the draft plan. The recommendation was changed to noting progress on the plan and requesting that the plan be brought back to council at the earliest opportunity. The council accepted this revised recommendation.

Clearly, Wealden is in considerable disarray – on 3 March expecting councillors to prove a plan for 14,101 houses, but by 22 March accepting that some very fundamental areas of the 3 March plan would have to change.

It is now apparent that any further development in Wealden will cause damage to Ashdown Forest and that no further development can proceed until the compensatory measures have been agreed and delivered.

Wealden is confidant that the 5YLS is now not an issue – they accept that they do not have a 5YLS, but due to the Ashdown Forest issue, have evidence (unpublished) that any development will cause damage so is therefore unsustainable. I wonder how long developers will accept this position before one submits an application and then tests the rejection though an appeal?

The next draft of the plan will have to contain a mitigation strategy approved by Natural England for Ashdown Forest. I anticipate that Wealden will be discussing with landowners whether they would be willing to make their land available to provide mitigation. This may take some time as the landowners will want a fee for loss of use which will have to be paid by developers. Thus, the next draft may take some time to surface. Alternatively, if Natural England cave in and decide that the NOx damage can be accepted, then the next draft could follow shortly thereafter…..

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