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.
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.”
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.
I’ve put a longer summary on the Proposed Wealden Local Plan page of this site.
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.
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:
- Feedback – where we are and where we need to be
- Confirming the Vision Statement and Core Objectives
- Moving from A to B
- confirming the journey taken between community engagement and development of each policy
- identifying the gaps
- assigning roles and responsibilities.
- Key Stakeholder mapping
- Agree next steps (response to AiRS)
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.”
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.
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
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:
- Once the Neighbourhood Plan is complete, it should be reviewed every couple of years.
- The Planning Authority (Wealden) are obliged to say how they are going to help groups creating Neighbourhood Plans.