Ringmer leads the way in its own destiny

RINGMER has been chosen as one of 17 select communities to try out a new concept in localism – having its own local plan that local people shape.

The experiment means that village residents, working with Lewes District Council, will be able to say how they want the community to develop, and particularly where they think new houses, shops and businesses should go.

The Government has awarded £20,000 to each of the 17 chosen places to fund the exercise. Peter Gardiner, the lead member for planning at the district council, said: “This is excellent news, because it is the first step towards giving residents greater say in planning their own communities, and Ringmer is to be one of the first in the country.

“We are genuine pioneers in this. It’s also recognition for Lewes district’s planning office and Ringmer Parish Council, which worked with us to prepare the case that was put to the Department of Communities and Local Government.”

The successful bid was put in by Lewes District Council, after Ringmer Parish Council alerted the district to the potential in the Government’s ‘Vanguard Neighbourhood’ proposals. Around 80 district and county councils applied for the £20,000 grants, of which 17 were chosen as ‘Neighbourhood Planning Front Runners’. The money will provide for work to be done on a Ringmer plan, and for a referendum of Ringmer people to decide on the plan produced.

District Council leader Ann De Vecchi said: “This is great news on two fronts – bringing local decisions back to local people, and having Ringmer as one of the first to participate.

“Congratulations are due to both Peter Gardiner, who got the South Downs National Park involved, and Ringmer Parish Council, which was the original initiator. This shows what can be done when a district council works with a town or parish, and emphasises the Liberal Democrats’ commitment to decentralisation and localism.”

Cllr Gardiner added: “We intend to involve other parishes in the learning process and will work to produce other neighbourhood plans when resources allow.”