What is a Neighbourhood Plan?

As you may or may not be aware, the village has started the process of creating a ‘Neighbourhood Plan’. However, in the wake of the decision by MSDC to grant permission to Wates to build over 200 homes off Gravelye Lane to the East of the Lindfield, we ask some key questions of Faustina Bayo (from Action in Rural Sussex), Andy Spooner and Alan Gomme from the Lindfield Parish Councils. 


What is a Neighbourhood Plan?

A Neighbourhood Plan (NP) is a framework and policies for guiding the future development, regeneration and conservation of an area. It forms part of the statutory development plan for the area when it passes a referendum. It may deal with a wide range of social, economic and environmental issues (such as housing, employment, heritage and transport). Neighbourhood Plans have to be subjected to an independent examination and referendum in order to bring them
into force.


Who is putting it together?

Neighbourhood Plans can be prepared by either a parish/town council or a neighbourhood forum where there is no parish/town council. The Lindfield and Lindfield Rural Neighbourhood Plan is being put together by representatives of both Parish Councils, with enormous help from various community working groups. They are being guided by the consultants from Action in rural Sussex (AirS).


What or who is/are AirS? Are you a company profiting out of this legislation?

AirS is an independent charity supporting rural communities. Community planning has been a key service for many years. Neighbourhood plans are a community plan and we have the local expertise and knowledge to provide a service to parish councils to assist them in developing their NP. For more information about AirS, visit www.ruralsussex.org.uk


In the light of the approval of massive development off Gravelye Lane, why should we bother with this? Won’t the Neighbourhood Plan also just be ignored by Council/Government?

An approved Neighbourhood Plan’s policies are full planning policies and have the full force of law within the area covered by the plan. All applications for developments during the 20 year life of the plan will be expected to conform to them. The Wates application did not have to conform to any Neighbourhood Plan policies because the NP does not yet exist. Also, MSDC does not have an approved District Plan and could not demonstrate a five year land supply.      


Will it just look like a plea from ‘NIMBYs’?

No, because the NP will not stand up to scrutiny - or be adopted by the local authority – if it simply objects to all development and growth. It has to be in general conformity with the emerging District Plan which will inevitably include growth targets for the area. NPs are about maximizing the benefit of this development for the community and shaping it as much as possible by type, tenure, location, scale and method of delivery; not simply saying no.


When is it likely to be completed and in place?

The aim is to have the plan ready for submission to the local authority by November 2013 for a referendum in May 2014.


If I have got a comment or opinion on the future of Lindfield, where can I voice it? 

Please contact either Lindfield Parish or Lindfield Rural Parish Council by telephone or email in the usual manner (full contact details appear in the Lindfield Parish Directory & Year Book).