What is a Neighbourhood plan?
In April 2012, the Government completely revised the planning system in this country by introducing the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
This reduced the previous 1500 pages of national planning policy down to 50 –and introduced several completely new concepts –including Neighbourhood Plans, and Community Right to Build Orders (CRTBO).
Neighbourhood Plans (NHP’s) are intended to give local people new rights to shape the development of the communities in which they live. NHP’s can set out the policies on the development and use of land in a neighbourhood area (often a Parish) for the next 20 –30 years.
NHP’s need to conform with planning policies and guidance at local (in our case, Mid Sussex District Council), national and European levels.
NHP’s will be voted on in a Parish referendum, and adopted as part of the District Plan, they will become the main consideration in planning decisions for the designated area.
Why do we need a Neighbourhood plan?
Our Parish, like many of the rural areas in South East of England, is under constant pressure to provide sites for house building. Without a Neighbourhood Plan, decisions on the number, type and location of houses built are decided by the Local Planning
Authority (LPA) - ours is the Mid Sussex District Council (MSDC) – in theory.
In practice, as local MP Nick Herbert said in parliament in July, it is often the Planning Inspectorate which makes the final decision if the LPA refuses a planning application.
LOCAL DECISION MAKING: Your Neighbourhood Plan has been produced by local people, based on the needs and aspirations of those who live in the Parish.
LOCAL HOUSING NEEDS: Your Neighbourhood Plan provides the housing that you have told us is needed in the Parish.
LOCAL FACILITIES AND INFRASTRUCTURE: Your Neighbourhood Plan provides the facilities that you have told us you need.
All Parishes in the Mid Sussex District area (other than those in the South Downs National Park) are producing Neighbourhood Plans. They recognise that this is the best way to ensure that planning decisions are made by local people to reflect the wants and needs of the local community.
Mid Sussex District Council, as the local planning authority, designated a Neighbourhood Area for the whole Slaugham Parish area in September 2012 to enable Slaugham Parish Council to prepare the ‘Slaugham Parish Neighbourhood Plan' (SPNP).
The SPNP is being prepared in accordance with the Town & Country Planning Act 1990, the Planning & Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, the Localism Act 2011, theNeighbourhood Planning Regulations 2012 and the EU Directive 2001/42 on strategic environmental assessment.
The Parish Council is preparing the plan to establish a vision of the future of the parish and to set out how that vision will be realised through planning and controlling land use and development change over the plan period 2015 to 2033.
The SPNP will contain a variety of policies and infrastructure proposals, including determining the level, location, type and phasing of new housing development as well as new community facilities, public open spaces and village centre improvements.
Can we do anything we want through the Neighbourhood plan?
Alas, no. There are certain things that are excluded like mineral extraction for example.
All our policies must be capable of being applied through the current planning system and (unless there are truly extraordinary reasons why not) they must be in "general conformity" with national and district policies. For example, district policy requires a mix of housing types on a site so although our policy on "Housing Mix" can require the majority of new homes to have 2/3 bedrooms it cannot insist that all of them are that size.
Everything in the Plan must be "evidence based" and not just a good idea somebody thought up. The many surveys, workshops, exhibitions and consultations conducted in the past 2 -3 years have contributed to our evidence base.
Finally, landowners must be treated impartially, and it must be possible for the allowed development to be economically viable.
The examiner will make sure we have followed the correct process, that our policies are reasonable and our evidence is sufficient before the Plan can proceed to a referendum.
If the plan is adopted, how will our policies be enforced?
All our policies will be applied through the planning system. A new planning application will be assessed by MSDC against the Policies in our Neighbourhood Plan and permission would normally be refused if it does not conform with them. If an application goes to appeal our policies will also have equal weight with the national and district policies.
Why do we need any new homes in the parish at all?
All the surveys have indicated that there is a shortage of smaller homes in the parish and a desire for more - unfortunately many houses tend to be extended and grow bigger over time.
There are a number of older people in the parish who would like to move from a larger house that has become difficult to manage into a smaller, more convenient home but still remain in the local area. The provision of more of this type of home would "free-up" larger homes for growing families to move into, which would have a knock-on effect throughout the local housing market.
There are also parents who are concerned that their children will have to move away from the area to become independent because there is a shortage of low-cost starter homes. Young people are important for the vibrancy of the community - as well as helping to sustain the primary school!
The Plan is trying to ensure that the majority of new homes in the next few years meet these requirements rather than continuing the trend of new homes having 4+ bedrooms (these are the most lucrative for the developers).
New houses will be built in the parish anyway - won't that be enough?
Most of the houses that already have planning permission (and have not yet been built), or that are currently going through the planning process have 4 bedrooms or more so do not do anything to help with our shortage of smaller dwellings (see question 4).
Infill housing of 1 or 2 new homes on a plot does not generate any new "affordable" homes (a development of 10 homes or more is needed to be sure that the 30% quota of "affordable" homes will be built within the parish). It would not be credible to the Examiner that we don't need any "affordable" housing as the Mid Sussex Housing Register says we do!
Does the allocation of a site mean it will automatically get planning permission?
No. The developer of each site must submit their detailed plans to MSDC and the usual planning process will be followed. Members of the public will be able to make their comments as usual. However, if the Plan has been "adopted", the planning department must also judge the application against all the policies in the Plan (for example, housing mix, parking spaces) as well as the national and district policies.
What is the Scoping Report?
The purpose of a Scoping Report is to identify the sustainability issues within the Slaugham Parish Neighbourhood Plan (SPNP) that can be used to determine how the Neighbourhood Plan will address some or all of these issues.
The report wil lalso demonstrate that SPNP objectives are in compliance with the Strategic Objectives of the Mid Sussex District Plan (MSDP), and consistent with local and national planning policy, while taking into account the local circumstances and needs of the parish of Slaugham.
The Scoping Report will be the subject of consultation with MSDC, the Environment Agency, Natural England, English Heritage and the High Weald Area of Outstanding National Beauty Unit before the draft Neighbourhood Plan and accompanying Sustainability Appraisal before it can be published.
The outcome of the consultation on this scoping report may result in further issues being identified.
In accordance with European and national legislation, all Neighbourhood Plans must be subject to a Sustainability Appraisal for consultation with environmental bodies and other relevant stakeholders, particularly where the plan has a positive or negative effect on the environment.
Sustainable Development is about ensuring a better quality of life for everyone, now and for generations to come. It is about considering the long-term environmental, social and economic issues and impacts in an integrated and balanced way. The UK Government has set five guiding principles to achieve the sustainable development purpose. These principles form the basis for policy in the UK and are as follows:
- Living within Environmental limits
- Ensuring a strong, healthy and just society
- Building a strong, stable and sustainable economy
- Promoting good governance
- Using sound science responsibly
One of the means by which sustainable development can be achieved is through the land-use planning process. The SPNP, which is currently being prepared, will need to be in conformity with the MSDP. It will be adopted under the framework of the District Plan and will comprise part of the planning policy framework for the district. The Neighbourhood Plan can help to achieve sustainable development as it aims to ensure that development meets the needs of people living and working in the parish, whilst at the same time helping to ensure that adverse environmental impact is minimised.
A Sustainability Appraisal will guide the Neighbourhood Plan to ensure that the plan prepared is the most sustainable possible, based on the alternative options for the plan’s overall strategy and the policies within it to deliver the strategy.
The commitment to the achievement of sustainable development has been set out in legislation introduced at both European and national level. In 2004 the European Directive on Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) was implemented in the UK. This sets out the requirement for SEA, which has been incorporated into the Sustainability Appraisal process. Section 39 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 requires Local Development Documents to be prepared with a view to contributing to the achievement of sustainable development.
This Sustainability Appraisal incorporates the SEA process for ease, this report will be referred to as the Sustainability Appraisal from now on, although it incorporates the elements required for SEA.
Can I get involved?
An NHP will only have value if it reflects what the community wants. Contact the Parish Council
if you have any skills or interests you think could help us in preparing the NHP.
There will also be opportunities to have your input through questionnaires and local drop in events. Keep checking back to this website and in Parish publications for information on times and venues.