Hundreds respond to housing plan in Herstmonceux

Herstmonceux High Street
Herstmonceux High Street

More than 300 comments were received in response to Herstmonceux Parish Council’s Neighbourhood Plan which sets out housing development in the area up to 2027.

Several options for the future of the plan will now be discussed, including whether to proceed with the plan, to prepare a new pre-submission plan for consultation, or abandon the plan and let Wealden District Council seek out a selection of sites for development.

The council unveiled its pre-submission Neighbourhood Plan with 17 policies relating to development in the parish last year. The council asked people to review and comment on the plan over an eight week period. The plan is designed to give people more of a say on developments in the area and will become a statutory planning document carrying significant weight in informing local planning decisions by Wealden District Council.

The plan proved controversial and campaign group HX Action Group claimed the council planned to build 70 homes at Lime Cross instead of smaller pockets of development which it said 94 per cent of residents questioned in a survey said they wanted.

In a report from the Herstmonceux Parish Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group (who worked on the plan) Meeting held on February 11 members said many different opinions were received from the 348 respondents regarding the draft plan. But it appeared some had misunderstood or not read the draft plan.

The report said: “A number of replies have not made any reference to or commented on the policies contained in the draft plan. Wealden District Council and Action in Rural Sussex, the steering group’s professional advisors, have advised that, if the decision is made to proceed to submission of the plan for independent examination, then further informal community engagement work will be helpful to explain its policies and proposals for prior to submission.”

At the meeting it was decided the steering group, which is made up of seven councillors and 11 parishioners, should reduce in number and comprise only of members who have not declared any interest in any part of the plan. It was emphasised the steering group had complied with the Code of Conduct and the proposal was to ease the process to ‘allow the Neighbourhood Plan to progress in the most efficient manner.’ It was decided only those with a prejudicial interest should stand aside.

The new steering group will meet the district council and Action in Rural Sussex to discuss the options for the plan (listed above). It will make its recommendations for the plan’s future to the parish council on March 17.