South Downs National Park's planning 'balancing act'

PLANNING in the new South Downs National Park has been described as 'a careful balancing act' by new chairman of its planning committee, Andrew Shaxson.

Mr Shaxson pledged that the committee would try to meet the needs of those who live, visit and work in the National Park while also protecting those areas for the future.

A district councillor for Harting Ward near Chichester for the last 11 years, he has lived near Midhurst all his life and has been on the South Downs Conservation Board and South Downs Joint Committee for eight years, and a parish councillor for 20 years.

He was elected last week at a meeting in Arundel, when Neville Harrison, of Southese, near Lewes, was elected as deputy chairman.

Mr Shaxson, who brings a wealth of experience to his role, said: "I am very pleased to be taking on this important role. National Park Authorities are statutory planning authorities, responsible for all planning policy and development control, including Mineral and Waste within the National Park boundaries.

"Planning in National Parks is a careful balancing act.

"We have to meet the needs of those who live, visit and work in the National Park now while also protecting those areas for the future.

"We are working with the local authorities on their policies for the National Park, and will be developing our own policies soon. Community involvement in this process is vital to ensure that the policies are the right ones for this very special place."

Richard Shaw, Interim Chief Executive at South Downs National Park Authority, said: "The planning committee is one of four committees we are establishing to provide a solid platform for the National Park Authority as it takes decisions and develops policies in preparation for our operational year in April 2011.

"Planning continues to be a focus for many people across the National Park, and the chair and deputy chair of the planning committee will be important roles to ensure we get the balance right.'

He said the other three committees were the audit committee, standards committee and resources and performance committee.

Each one will consist of a selection of the 27 National Park Authority members.

The South Downs National Park Authority is the lead organisation responsible for promoting the purposes of the National Park, working in partnership with other local authorities and organisations.

A centrally-funded, public body run by a board of 27 members, the authority will be able to make planning decisions and develop new projects and partnership programmes that promote the purposes of the South Downs National Park,

These are:

- To conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area

- To promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the Park's special qualities by the public.