East Sussex green spaces 'at risk of development' without a new local plan, minister says
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A Tory minister has claimed that every green space in the Lewes District is at risk from development if a new local plan is not delivered soon.
Maria Caulfield, Conservative MP for Lewes, made the comments after Lewes District Council agreed to adopt a new Local Development Scheme, at the latest full council meeting.
The Local Development Scheme outlines the programme and timetable for the preparation of the new Local Plan, which will likely be put into action in two years time.
Ms Caulfield said: “Given the Government is scrapping housing targets for local areas there is now no reason why Lewes District Council cannot get its local plan in place given it had a perfectly good one when run by the Conservatives just a couple of years ago.
“Their hesitancy is putting every green space in the Lewes District at risk from development, as developers can easily win at appeal while there is no Local Plan in place. The careless attitude to the protection of green spaces is one of the reasons I recently met with the Local Government Secretary Michael Gove to ask for the council to be put in special measures.
“The adoption of a Local Plan for Lewes District simply cannot wait until 2025.”
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Local plans are legal documents which set out where housing, and the infrastructure needed to support them, can and can't go in a particular area.
Once a Local Plan is in place, neighbourhoods such as parishes and towns can then set out sites to be protected from housing in their local communities.
The Local Development Scheme (LDS) is the three-year work programme for producing planning policy documents.
Once they have been prepared, the documents listed in the Local Development Scheme will provide the basis for considering future planning applications.
In June of this year, Ms Caulfield met with Secretary of State for Housing Michael Gove to ask him to consider putting both Lewes District Council and Wealden District Council into special measures because of their lack of Local Plans.
Ms Caulfield said: “Our residents deserve better. Local plans need to be put in place as soon as possible to ensure mass concreting over green field space does not happen.”
Lewes District councillors told SussexWorld that the Lewes MP was spreading ‘fake news’, insisting the government had not scrapped housing targets or changed the national planning framework.
Councillor Laurence O’Connor, Cabinet member for Planning, said: “The government has not scrapped the targets, it has not changed the national planning framework, this is all fake news.
“When they do change the legislation and scrap the targets and scrap the five-year rule, then I am sure the people of this district will be joining us in the streets jumping with joy, but until that point, the government’s own planning framework sets the legal rules in which we operate.
“Perhaps Ms Caulfield would like to press Michael Gove to deliver on his promise to fix his government’s broken planning system.”