Have your say in Uckfield’s future

Uckfield High Street
Uckfield High Street

People living in Uckfield now have the chance to have a real say in the future development of their town.

A meeting is due to be held at 4pm on Tuesday, February 11, at the Civic Centre to discuss a Neighbourhood Plan.

Uckfield town councillor Helen Firth hopes people will come along who would like to join a Neighbourhood Plan committee and help create policies which will guide the future development of the town. She said: “We are trying to find the right people. We want people with open minds - possibly who can talk to their neighbours, find out their views and bring them to the table.”

She said this is an opportunity for residents to determine the shape of the town to come so this does not just happen in an ad hoc way, subject to the whims of developers.

However one thing the Plan will not be able to do is affect decisions already made, such as those incorporated into Wealden’s Local Plan which includes the development of land to the south west of the town.

Government guidance on creating Neighbourhood Plans says they establish general planning policies for the development and use of land such as where new homes and offices should be built and what they should look like.

They also remove the need for a planning application to be submitted to the local authority as long as the scheme in question falls within their own development orders.

These Plans must also meet the needs of the wider area, taking into account the local council’s assessment of housing and other development needs.

There is another huge benefit for towns and villages with Neighbourhood Plans - they receive 25 per cent of any Community Infrastructure Levy, a new version of developers’ roof taxes which contribute towards essential services in exchange for the right to build. Towns and communities without a Plan will only receive 15 per cent.

From last May the Government ran a £9.5 million, two-year-programme to support the development of these Plans, offering hands-on, practical support and grants of up to £7,000 per neighbourhood area.

Town mayor Cllr Ian Smith said: “This is a Government initiative, encouraging people to get involved in their communities. It’s a real opportunity for people to go and have their say. These views will be submitted back so residents can help guide the final decision and influence their surroundings.” To take part or learn more contact: firth:helen30.orangehome.co.uk; paul.sparks1@gmx.com or sambryant71@hotmail.com