Parish prepares a preview of how the future might look

People living in four villages are being asked for their views on a neighbourhood development plan that could rule their futures for the next 20 or 30 years.

Slaugham Parish Council has drawn up the plan for consultation by residents within its parish, including those living in Handcross, Pease Pottage, Slaugham and Warninglid.

The parish council says it has worked with professional consultants and residents after deciding that embracing the concept of “Localism” with a ‘neighbourhood plan’ was the best way to ensure developments over the next 20 to 30 years were “led by the needs of the community rather than the plans of developers”.

Evidence has been gathered from local exhibitions, a parish-wide questionnaire, village-based focus groups and surveys on housing need and other issues.

Planning consultants appointed by the council drew together all the evidence into the draft Neighbourhood Plan – which tries to satisfy the future needs of the community while also being achievable and meeting legal requirements. The parish council says the consultants have suggested that the best way to achieve the proposals may be through Community Right to Buy Orders.

These are another new concept introduced as part of the drive to “Localism”. Establishing a Community Land Trust, which is a non-profit, community based organisation which can hold community assets, could mean that any affordable housing and community facilities developed under the Neighbourhood Plan are held for the benefit of local people in perpetuity.

The draft Neighbourhood Plan can be viewed on the Slaugham Parish Council’s website at Paper copies are available, as well, in all the villages for residents to borrow and read. Details of how to comment on the plan are set out in the document and on village notice boards. Slaugham Parish Council says it welcomes all comments, which must be received by by February 8.

Slaugham and the neighbouring villages of Handcross, Warninglid and Pease Pottage now join other towns and villages in Mid Sussex to draw up so-called Neighbourhood Plans. The plans have to be accepted by a majority of residents but then become ‘law’ and must be considered by planners when deciding proposals for future developments including businesses, leisure, tourism and housing.

One of the first places in Mid Sussex to tackle the drawing up a neighbourhood plan was Cuckfield, which received a £25,000 government grant for the process.

Plans being prepared now by other parishes and towns are being sited as opposition to housing deveolpments in Mid Sussex.