Residents are to be asked for their views on the next step of the Lewes local plan including revisions to key policies.
On Monday (July 1), Lewes District Council’s Conservative cabinet agreed to hold a public consultation on changing a number of policies to be submitted within the Lewes Local Plan Part 2 – a document intended to guide how and where development takes place within the district.
The proposed changes, put forward by a planning inspector, cover a number of policies contained within the plan submitted last year, including a significant reworking of those surrounding the development of land at East Quay in Newhaven.
This particular change was praised during the meeting by Ouse Valley and Ringmer’s Green councillor Emily O’Brien, who said: “I welcome the government inspector’s reduction of the area [covered by] area E1.
“I think it is really important that area of vegetated shingle, which is a priority one habitat, has been saved and I also welcome the extra protection for the area as well.
“But given that the late inclusion of the full version of policy E1 led to more than 170 objections, a forced amendment by the inspector and the alarming situation where the council nearly threw out our local plan, can the lead member give us some reassurance that lessons have been learned around effective and timely local engagement?”
In response, officers said the council would be looking back at its process through a debrief to see what lessons should be learned.
Other policies remained contentious among some councillors, however.
Cllr Rob Banks (Lib Dem, Plumpton, Streat, East Chiltington and St John Without) raised a number of concerns about policy GT01, which involves the creation of Gypsy and Traveller pitches on land south of The Plough and to the north of Plumpton Green village.
Officers, however, said the concerns raised had been thoroughly looked at by the inspector. The policy had been modified to add more detailed requirements for sewerage on the site.
The consultation comes as the latest stage in the long-running local plan process.
The first part of the plan – also known as the Joint Core Strategy (JCS) – was adopted by the council in 2016 and lays out the large-scale planning policies for the district.
Part 2, meanwhile, is intended to build upon the JCS by allocating smaller-scale sites for development and providing detailed policies to inform planning decisions.
Not yet adopted, it was originally submitted to the planning inspectorate in December last year, with a series of public examination hearings held in April.
The proposed changes come as a result of recommendations made by the inspector following these hearings.
According to the council, anyone who has previously commented on the Lewes Local Plan will be directly contacted as part of the consultation process.
Without delays, the council expects to vote on adopting Part 2 of the local plan late this year.
In a statement released after the meeting, cabinet member for planning Tom Jones (Con) said: “This is really excellent news and huge credit is owed to our planning officers for their expertise in delivering this critically important document
“The inspector has proposed some modifications that we fully support. We will now consult on the changes during July and August and I encourage local people to contribute to that process.”
The changes proposed to the Local Plan policies are as follows:
Policy NH01 (Land south of Valley Road, Newhaven): Inclusion of an additional policy criterion to address concerns over surface water drainage mitigation raised by the ESCC, as the Lead Local Flood Authority.
Policy NH02 (Land at The Marina, Newhaven): Inclusion of additional policy criteria in respect of the protection and enhancement of biodiversity and waste and sewage disposal to address concerns raised by the Environment Agency. Policy BH01 (Land at Nuggets, Valebridge Road, Wivelsfield): Inclusion of an additional policy criteria to address concerns over surface water drainage mitigation and potential adverse impacts on trees raised by ESCC and Sussex Wildlife Trust respectively.
Policy CH02 (Layden Hall, East Grinstead Road, Chailey): Inclusion of additional policy requirement for safe and convenient pedestrian access to the nearest bus stop.
Policy RG01 (Caburn Field, Ringmer): Inclusion of an additional policy criterion to address concerns over surface water drainage mitigation raised by the ESCC.
Policy GT01: (Land South of the Plough): Inclusion of an additional policy criterion in respect of sewerage provision to address concerns raised by the Environment Agency and ensure consistency with other housing site allocations.
Policy E1 (Land at East Quay, Newhaven Port): Modifications to ensure that only employment uses associated with Newhaven Port will be permitted and to exclude the area of vegetated shingle habitat along the seafront from the allocated site. Also, the inclusion of additional policy criteria to address concerns over the potential adverse impacts of development on biodiversity and the need for appropriate assessments of landscape character and archaeological potential, together with any necessary mitigation measures. All recommended changes are to address concerns raised by Natural England and other representations.
Policy E2 (Land adjacent to American Express Community Stadium, Falmer): Modification to permit the development of ancillary uses directly associated with the Community Stadium and/or the Universities, in addition to office and health/educational uses.
Policy DM24 (Protection of Biodiversity and Geodiversity): Modification to ensure that the wording of the policy is consistent with the revised National Planning Policy Framework published in February 2019.