Local needs downplayed

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THE Draft National Planning policy Framework now out for consultation is rightly giving cause for concern particularly related to the stated presumption in favour of sustainable development.

This assumption would be reasonable if it conformed to statutory approved local plans. However, the proposed requirement to grant permission where the plan is absent, silent, indeterminate or where relevant policies are out of date is unreasonable and will give planning counsel acting on behalf of developers a positive advantage in gaining planning permission in our Sussex countryside against the wishes of the local community.

The preparation and contents of Local Plans is always open to objections and delays.

When the Local Plan is examined by an independent inspector during the statutory process, one of the criteria for the plan to be considered “sound” is – the plan should be prepared based on a strategy which seeks to meet objectively assessed development and infrastructure requirements. This will no doubt be another area for considerable delays and challenge given the words “objectively assessed”.

The separate idea under housing of allowing homes in the countryside of exceptional quality or innovative nature of design of dwelling raises questions as to whose housing need this is designed to meet?

The new framework is also unlikely to reduce bureaucracy or council tax because the proposed Neighbourhood Plans where parishes and neighbourhood forums can use neighbourhood plans to set planning policies for development and use of land; and give planning permission through Neighbour Development Orders and Community Right to Build Order will inevitably lead to increase council staff at parish and town council level. We have already had some former Seaford Town councillors stating they should be paid at this level of Local Government.

I hope local East Sussex MPs and councillors will let us have their views and proposed actions before the consultation period ends on 17 October, 2011, as it would be very wrong for developers to legally run rough shod over local communities’ wishes because of this flawed planning policy framework having been accepted by default.

John A Bailey, former Wealden District & Crowborough councillor, Seaford