Steering Group Meeting – 27 April 2017

The main aim of this meeting was to agree the Steering Group’s approach to the engagement with the Action in Rural Sussex (AirS) consultancy/charity.

During and after the previous meeting we collated the information and evidence that we have collected so far during consultation events etc.  This will be passed to Action in Rural Sussex (AirS) so they can highlight gaps.

We are hoping to be able to get the rest of the Neighbourhood Plan done in about eighteen months and that AirS will be able to break down their suggested activities so we can see, and present, a series of clear stages.

We also discussed possible sources of funding.

 

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Newick – Baroness 1 : Government : 0

At the beginning of December, there was a considerable upset to Newick’s Neighbourhood Plan. Although it had been voted into force by referendum, the Secretary of State’s (Mr Javid) decided to allow a developer to build 50 dwellings at the Mitchelswood site in Newick.

However, Baroness Cumberledge, who lives in Newick and is a Conservative Peer, instructed her lawyers to appeal against the decision.  In March, the Sussex Express reported that Sajid Javid (Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government) had decided not to contest the Baroness’s challenge.  Newick is not quite out of the woods as the developer may choose to contest the challenge instead.

The Sussex Express  (March 17) says:

The letter [from Government lawyers] said “My client, having carefully considered the matter, concedes that the above decision should be quashed because the Secretary of State failed to take into account the ‘Broyle Gate Farm appeal decision’ and specifically the finding in that earlier decision that development plan policy CT1 ‘should be regarded as up-to-date for the purposes of this appeal.”

 

 

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Proposed Wealden Local Plan – March 2017

Wealden have produced a Draft Local Plan and they are inviting comments (8 May to 19 June) on whether it is meets legal and soundness requirements.   This builds on the Issues and Options Consultation document that several Uckfield people commented on in 2015.

This plan allocates most of the extra housing (i.e. on top of what has been allocated previously) to “The South Wealden Growth Area” around Hailsham.

It has a section specifically about Uckfield – cut very short:

  • The 1,000 dwellings [already given planning permission at Ridgewood Farm] and other development commitments will be built, no further growth has been allocated.
  • There will be development boundary (red line). It includes Ridgewood Farm (South West) and excludes Downlands area (North East).
  • 1850 sqm retail floorspace provision will be required within Uckfield Town Centre.

2017_LocalPlan_UckDevBoundary

I’ve put a longer summary on the Proposed Wealden Local Plan page of this site.

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Ready, Steady, Go!

My informal notes from the Steering Group Meeting for 23 February 2017. This session was about how to consolidate the work we have done so far and move forward.

First a big thank you to Holly who got us organised and heading in the direction.

The two main tasks we worked through were:

  • Going through our current vision statement to make it more concise and get to the heart of what Uckfield is about.
  • Looking at the policies that we presented last year and re-reviewing the evidence that you gave us during events. We need to make sure that we can build a clear case that each policy is built on evidence, which may mean collecting more.
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Steering Group Meeting – 23 Feb – Agenda

We will be deciding the response to AiRS (consultants) at the Council Chamber, Uckfield Civic Centre – 7.00pm – 8.40pm. Volunteers are always welcome especially as we are now entering a new phase of the work.

The Agenda will be:

  1. Feedback – where we are and where we need to be
  2. Confirming the Vision Statement and Core Objectives
  3. Moving from A to B
    • confirming the journey taken between community  engagement and development of each policy
    • identifying the gaps
    • assigning roles and responsibilities.
  4. Key Stakeholder mapping
  5. Agree next steps (response to AiRS)

 

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Uckfield TCR (High Street Works)

Uckfield TCR have issued minutes for their 27 Jan meeting. This is key set with a lot of information. Final Update on Stage 2 of TCR:

  • Stage 2 (the High Street) is done – there are some snagging/additional items to be dealt with, such as protective rails.
  • East Sussex CC will monitor traffic flows to judge the impact of the works after some other works are complete.
  • Stages 3 and 4 will be lead by Jon Wheeler, East Sussex’s Team Leader for Strategic Economic Infrastructure.
  • Stage 3 is the bus station. Apparently there was consultation in 2013 and detailed plans will be created in 2017/8 – with consideration being given to the provision of public toilets.
  • Stage 4 is “to improve movement and access on the corridors into the Town Centre.   The Town Council was being consulted on these proposals in the next month and its input would be welcomed.”

2016_July02_Uckfield_BiggerBang_start.jpg

There were also warm words for Uckfield – The Future group, who kept the public informed, pushed the message “Uckfield is Open”, told people where they could park and organised a series of events to encourage people into the town. The Public Reports document (section 4 pg 15 in the PDF file) says that “Weald and Field” on Luxford Field was so successful that Uckfield Town Council is now looking to hold a similar festival in August 2017.

2014_dec06_holyxschool

We have heard reports about the Uckfield Reinvestment project (adding a shopping area to the West side of the High Street) being put on hold with the next meeting being held in Summer 2018. The reasons outlined here are:

  • school being unable to release land at this time without a market return
  • low level of interest in development from major food retailers
  • insufficient interest from the budget retailers
  • projected lack of residential development capacity to support such a scheme.

It also says:

“The position in relation to Holy Cross School would be subject to further consideration in the future if and when additional primary school places were required as result of residential development, including the Welbeck scheme, but this was unlikely to be until the mid-2020s.”

Wendy Tagg, 10 Feb 2017

 

 

 

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Steering Group Meeting -26 Jan 2017

Our first meeting of the new year discussed the prospect of getting AirS (Action in rural Sussex) to help Uckfield create the Neighbourhood Plan.  They joined us for one of our meetings and then provided a Scope of Work.

The Steering Group will have a planning session on February the 23rd in which we will do a “Gap Analysis”.  That is, we will compare the Scope of Work sent by AirS with what we have done so far and decide where we need help.

We briefly touched on the situation with the Newick Neighbourhood Plan.  That is that the developers have successfully challenged it but a resident is appealing that decision.

We also discussed the new Neighbourhood Planning Bill.  Two points were highlighted:

  1. Once the Neighbourhood Plan is complete, it should be reviewed every couple of years.
  2. The Planning Authority (Wealden) are obliged to say how they are going to help groups creating Neighbourhood Plans.

 

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Appeal Against Newick Decision

At the beginning of December, there was a considerable upset to Newick’s Neighbourhood Plan. Although it had been voted into force by referendum, the Secretary of State’s (Mr Javid) decided to allow a developer to build 50 dwellings at the Mitchelswood site in Newick.

Although it’s not Uckfield, it is disconcerting to see the Secretary of State overturn a Neighbourhood Plan in this way. However, it seems that Newick isn’t going down without a fight. Baroness Cumberledge, who lives in Newick and is a Conservative Peer, has instructed her lawyers to appeal against the decision.  The Sussex Express article explains:

She said: “We are challenging the Secretary of State on the granting of a specific planning application in the grounds set out in our appeal document.”

ITV’s website has a photo of the meeting at which Baroness Cumberledge made the announcement.

 

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Neighbourhood Planning Bill 2016-17

This is a very brief look at the Neighbourhood Planning element of the Bill.  Oddly, given its name, only a few pages of the 50 page bill talk about Neighbourhood Planning. Most of the information here comes from the Explanatory notes, which can be found on the left-hand side of the Bill Documents page – you will need to scroll down a bit to find it. If you want to look at the bill itself, it is on the Neighbourhood Planning Bill 2016-17 page, which shows that the bill has gone through the House of Commons and is now working its way through the Lords.

 

The Neighbourhood Planning part comprises a series of changes to existing planning acts. The changes refer to the:

  • local planning authority, which is Wealden for Uckfield
  • qualifying body, which is the Steering Group for Uckfield’s Neighbourhood Plan.

Clause 1: Duty to have regard to post-examination neighbourhood development plan

The change requires the “local planning authority or other planning decision-taker to have regard to a post-examination neighbourhood development plan when dealing with an application for planning permission.”  – i.e. they must take the Neighbourhood Plan into account even if it has not got quite as far as the referendum.

Clause 2: Status of approved neighbourhood development plan

This change provides “for a neighbourhood development plan for an area to become part of the development plan for that area after it is approved in each applicable referendum.” – i.e. it will be part of Wealden’s development plan.

Clause 3: Modification of neighbourhood development order or plan

This change enables “a local planning authority to modify, only with the consent of the qualifying body for the neighbourhood area, a neighbourhood development order or plan … ” – i.e. this provides a mechanism for changing the Neighbourhood Plan once it has been through referendum, with an examination but without another referendum.

Clause 4: Changes to neighbourhood areas etc.

This facilitates “the modification of a neighbourhood area and provide for what is to
happen to a neighbourhood development order or plan that has already been made in relation to that area.”  – This might be required if there are boundary changes that affect Uckfield.

Clause 5: Assistance in connection with neighbourhood planning

This requires “an authority to … set out their policy for discharging the duty to give advice or assistance to qualifying bodies to facilitate proposals for neighbourhood development plans (including proposals for the modification of neighbourhood development plans) or orders.” i.e. Wealden would have to explain how they help qualifying bodies like our steering group with Neighbourhood Plans.

The clauses are explained in more detail in the Explanatory Notes.

 

 

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Minister’s Written Statement

On the 12th of December the Minister of State for Housing & Planning, Gavin Barwell, made a written statement about Neighbourhood Plans.

Supply of deliverable housing sites

It says:

“The Government confirms that where a planning application conflicts with a neighbourhood plan that has been brought into force, planning permission should not normally be granted.” and then goes on to explain that sometimes Neighbourhood Plans are “undermined because their local planning authority cannot demonstrate a five-year land supply of deliverable housing sites”.

He says …

“I am today making clear that where communities plan for housing in their area in a neighbourhood plan, those plans should not be deemed to be out-of-date unless there is a significant lack of land supply for housing in the wider local authority area. We are also offering those communities who brought forward their plans in advance of this statement time to review their plans.

This means that relevant policies for the supply of housing in a neighbourhood plan, that is part of the development plan, should not be deemed to be ‘out-of-date’ under paragraph 49 of the National Planning Policy Framework where all of the following circumstances arise at the time the decision is made:

  • This written ministerial statement is less than 2 years old, or the neighbourhood plan has been part of the development plan for 2 years or less;
  • the neighbourhood plan allocates sites for housing; and
  • the local planning authority can demonstrate a three-year supply of deliverable housing sites.”

Although the statement appears very positive, my personal opinion (and I’m no expert) is that 2 years is a remarkably short time before something becomes out-of-date.

A New Neighbourhood Planning Bill

The statement goes on to explain:

“My Department will be bringing forward a White Paper on Housing in due course. Following consultation, we anticipate the policy for neighbourhood planning set out in this statement will be revised to reflect policy brought forward to ensure new neighbourhood plans meet their fair share of local housing need and housing is being delivered across the wider local authority area.”

It will be interesting to see where the new Bill takes us. There is information on its progress at Parliament’s Neighbourhood Planning Bill 2016-17 web page.

Mind the Gap

The statement says:

“On 7 July 2016, my Rt Hon Friend, the Member for Great Yarmouth (Brandon Lewis), extended for a period of 6 months the criteria for consideration of the recovery of planning appeals to include proposals for residential development over 25 dwellings in areas where a qualifying body has submitted a neighbourhood plan proposal to the local planning authority but the relevant plan has not been made.”

This isn’t going to win any prizes for plain English so I hope I’ve got this right.  Essentially “recovery of planning appeals” means that when a developer appeals against a decision made by the local authority, the Secretary of State makes the final decision rather than the Inspector.  The statement deals with the gap between the  qualifying body (group who created the plan) submitting it to the local authority and it being put into force after a “yes” in a referendum.  The different steps are explained in Creating the Plan.

Regards, Wendy

 

 

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