A couple of days ago the Inbox of my phone filled with comments about the Secretary of State’s (Mr Javid’s) decision to allow a developer to build 50 dwellings at the Mitchelswood site in Newick.
Why the concern? This is not Uckfield. It’s not even in the Wealden district. It is, however, relevant to Neighbourhood Plans.
There’s an article in the Sussex Express that outlines what’s going on in Newick.
- Newick have a Neighbourhood Plan that has been voted into force by referendum. This indicated suitable sites for new housing, which excluded the Mitchelswood site.
- The Parish Council refused planning permission for a development of 50 houses as it did not fit in the Newick Neighbourhood Plan (NPP).
- After a public Inquiry Secretary of State overturned the decision as the inspector ruled the neighbourhood plan could not be used to refuse ‘suitable applications’.
- 5 councillors have resigned.
I’ve looked at the Decision Letter and Inspector’s Report for the “recovered appeal”. Warning – I’m not an expert in these matters and I haven’t tried to draw any conclusions. The purpose of this piece is to gather some of the statements from the Decision Letter and Inspector’s Report for reference purposes. The IR numbers are the paragraph numbers in that document.
When considering plans, the planning inspector must consider a Neighbourhood Plan alongside the Local Authority’s development plans. [pg 2 IR 7]
Wendy: In Uckfield, the relevant Local Authority is Wealden and Newick, Lewes.
[pg 2 IR 10 says that] The Secretary of State agrees that neither Lewes’ Joint Core Strategy (JCS) nor the Newick Neighbourhood Plan (NNP) place a cap on development in Newick. He further notes (IR162) that policy H01 of the NNP refers to housing built on sites identified in the NNP or on other sites within the Parish.
Wendy: In the following the underlined bit is the inspector’s emphasis. [pg 28 IR 162 says]
Furthermore, Policy HO1 of the NNP states that “All new housing, whether built on sites identified in this Neighbourhood Plan or on other sites within the Parish, [my emphasis] shall be of designs that respect the established sense of place and local character of the existing buildings in the area of the development and the surrounding countryside.” Whilst the Council and some local residents implied at the Inquiry that this was to allow small infill developments and rural exception sites to come forward, nowhere in the NP is this set out. As identified above, the Council also accepts that more sites may ultimately need to be allocated in Newick through the site allocations process.
[pg 2 IR 11 says that] The Secretary of State agrees that the NNP does not give a clear policy basis to refuse planning permission on sites not allocated in the NNP if they are acceptable in all other regards.
[pg 2 IR 12 says that] With regard to the preservation of a ‘green gap’ between Newick and neighbouring settlements, the Secretary of State agrees … that there is no policy conflict with the NNP.
[pg 2 IR 13 says that] As such the Secretary of State concludes … that while the appeal site is not one allocated for housing in the NNP, this does not render the proposal unacceptable in principle. The Secretary of State has therefore gone on to consider whether the proposal would constitute sustainable development in line with the requirements of the Framework.
Wendy: Here “the Framework” is the National Framework.