Dear Piltdown, Fletching and Maresfield Residents
Those of you who follow Local Government will know the importance that a Council’s Local Plan has on shaping the medium to long term future of how our District will evolve. Once put into effect it will determine many aspects of our lives and our environment going forward, from specifying where we want Housing and Economic and Employment development, the type of development that is needed (e.g. affordable housing, smaller housing, design, energy efficiency, types of business, commercial, office and retail space), as well as the Infrastructure to accompany development (e.g. roads, public transport, schools, health facilities, social care), Green Spaces, Community facilities, Conservation areas and measures to Control Climate change, to name just a few subjects that are dealt with in a finalised Local Plan.
Wealden District Council produced a draft Local Plan that was submitted to a Central Government Inspector in mid 2019, but was unfortunately found inadequate for several reasons and a decision was made earlier this year to withdraw it and start again.
Work therefore has been going on to prepare another one to cover the next 20 years, with the expectation of submission to an Inspector in early 2022. A Paper titled “Direction of Travel” has just been issued inviting the Community and Residents for their views about how that future shape should be fashioned. These is part of the formal public Consultation that has started this Monday 23rd of November and will run for 8 weeks until Monday the 18th of January 2021. It is a lengthy document, very informative, full of a lot of facts and highlights the many issues faced in the production of the new Local Plan. The responses will then be used during 2021 to determine where Development will feature in the new Local Plan with the policies to support that.
- Wealden Local Plan – Direction of Travel Consultation Document
- Wealden Local Plan Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report (November 2020)
- Wealden Local Plan Consultation and Engagement Strategy (November 2020)
Also earlier this year, WDC launched a request asking Developers to bring forward potential sites for Housing and Economic development. This is known as a “SHELAA” exercise. This has now closed and the results are now available on a Mapping system on the Council’s website. As can be seen, this includes sites in Fletching and Piltdown and in neighbouring Maresfield. Some of these sites themselves could potentially take substantial housing (into three figures), and depending on whether they are deemed sustainable by WDC, which is by no means certain or indeed necessary to meet the eventually determined housing needs, agreed locations may then be incorporated into the next Local Plan.
Tips on how to view the proposed housing developments in Piltdown, Fletching and Maresfield:
- Open the link to our online mapping system as per the link above.
- In order to see the relevant SHELAA layers, go to ‘what would you like to do?’ icon in the top left hand corner of the screen, then ‘map features’ and click on ‘planning policy’ to toggle the layers on/off as required. We suggest turning both layers of the SHELAA on to see the full list of sites available to view.
- Additionally, if you wish to have a specific Parish boundary, you can do this by clicking on the icon beside ‘Wealden Boundaries’ and toggling on ‘Wealden Parishes’ to see the Parish boundary for Fletching.
- Lastly, if you wish to see planning applications at the same time, you can do this by toggling on the ‘planning applications’ feature. This is only helpful when zoomed in on a particular site and it gives you the option to consider the most recent planning applications lodged with the local planning authority. They do date as far back as to the start of the formal planning system, so you will need toggle on only the most recent planning applications only.
The responses therefore to this Consultation are important to feed in to WDC what we want as a Community or as Individuals. If responses are not fed in, then decisions may be made for us. The cynics amongst us may feel that decisions will be made anyway, and a lot will depend on what Central Government says in their proposed Planning Reforms, but if views are not put forward to the Council for consideration, it will be difficult to complain. If they are and they are ignored, then the ballot box beckons!
PRA may wish to consider a formal response, undoubtedly the Parish Council should consult residents, and any individual can respond directly.
The easiest way to respond to the consultation is via the consultation portal and your comments will then be directly submitted to Wealden.
If you are unable to access the consultation portal then you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Planning Policy, Wealden District Council, Vicarage Lane, Hailsham, BN27 2AX. Please ensure that you clearly identify which consultation question(s) you are answering.
Before submitting your comments Wealden would strongly encourage you to read the Guidance Notes for Respondents.
If anybody has any questions, I would be delighted to try and answer or explain, and do feel free to contact me either on email or by phone.
Chair PRA (also District Councillor for Maresfield Ward)