Both the South Downs National Park Local Plan and the Lewes District Council Local Plan Part 2 are in focus as 2018 closes:
The District Council have just approved their controversial in parts, Local Plan Part 2. Now it will be sent to the Secretary of State for examination. A planning Examiner will be appointed, who will hold public hearings later on in 2019. Residents will have an opportunity to submit evidence if they are opposed to the plan, either wholly or in part, and there will be an opportunity for the public to attend the Examiner’s public hearings.
The National Park are one stage ahead of the Lewes District Council as their plan is already being examined by the government, and there are currently public hearings taking place where those who wish to give evidence against the plan policies, either in part or wholly, will be able to submit their views. I asked the Government’s Examiner to ensure that there would be public hearings local to the Lewes area and not 45 miles away in Midhurst! He agreed with me. This local hearing will take place between the 11th and 12th of December. Click here for more information.
Here are my comments on the district council’s local plan, part two, and some further information on the National Park plan:
Have your say on the future of local planning in Lewes. The Lewes Neighbourhood Plan is out for public consultation! You can attend one of the public sessions and view the draft plan at the Lewes Town Hall on 25th May from 1.00pm until 10.00pm and on the 26th May from 9.30am until 1.00pm. There is also a slideshow presentation at 7.30pm on Thursday 25th May.
For more details go to: http://www.lewes4all.uk/ here you will also find a link to a questionnaire which you can answer whether or not you attend the public consultation sessions.
The deadline for responses is 5pm on Wednesday 21st June 2017
The calling of the general election has rather overshadowed this important local event which will affect Lewes and the nearby surrounding area. The Lewes Neighbourhood Plan, when approved, will become a legal planning document setting out the principles of how planning applications will be treated over the next 15 years or so; at least until 2030. It will sit alongside the Lewes District Plan, which has already been approved by the Secretary of State, and the South Downs National Park Plan which is due to come out for consultation in September 2017.
As many may already know, the planning application for improvements and expansion of Iford & Kingston School got the go-ahead at the May meeting of the East Sussex County Council Planning Committee. Whilst I’m sure we all support better facilities for the children at the school, I was saddened by the County Council’s decision not to include any significant funds for highway and footpath improvements to try and alleviate the traffic problems caused by parents from outside the village having to drop off and collect their children. The County Council’s policy of expanding the school will add even more rush-hour traffic problems to Kingston. (click below to read more)
The initial plan consultation started in Feb 2014, over 2 years ago. Last year there was a further public consultation. Since the end of Oct 2015 we haven’t had much news but now things are moving on. This report provides an update on the development of the plan together with some other information. Here is a summary of my report:
The importance of the ‘Sanford principle’ in protecting national parks, key statutory duties of national parks and the importance of planning enforcement.
I hope this information will help those wishing to protect the national park in dealing with planning applications and potential planning infringements. If national parks are important to you please read on……..
What’s going on in your area behind the scenes! Closing date for comments is Wednesday 24th Feb.
On the South Downs above the Ouse valley between Rodmell and Kingston and in Iford there have been many planning issues associated with game shooting and game bird breeding. The situation culminated recently with planning inspectors at two different ‘planning hearings’ giving permission for:
An old farm building on the Downs to be used as a game shooting lodge and
An area of a farm at Iford village being used for the intensive breeding of game birds.
But the story is not yet over! Just recently the landowner associated with the shooting business has applied for a ‘lawful development certificate’relating to a large area of the South Downs. See the map below. Effectively they are trying to establish that shooting has been going on in the area for over 10 years. In other words from approximately 2005 onwards.
The applicant has provided what they believe is sufficient evidence to prove that the Council must issue a lawful development certificate. Members of the public could support or oppose the application but not in the normal way. Anyone wishing to comment on the application would have to do so by providing a statement giving what they believe is their evidence of whether or not there has been shooting activity in the defined area. This application will not be dealt with like a normal planning application and it will not be sufficient to just simply say you are opposed or support the shooting activity for this or that reason. It will not be considered by a committee. The planning and legal officers of the Lewes District Council acting on behalf of the National Park will make the decision themselves. Members of the District Council can submit their own statement but they will not participate in the decision-making process.
If you would like to find out more about the application please follow the link below and enter the application number in the search box.
Application for a Lawful Development Certificate – shooting area on the South Downs
Then, enter in the search box: SDNP/15/06385/LDE – You will then be taken to the actual application page. NB: Here is some advice from the Planning Department on how to support or oppose the awarding of the certificate:
As discussed, any representations should concentrate on whether shooting has taken place on the land for 10 years before 11/12/15 (the date of the application), rather than objecting on grounds relating to the alleged impact of the use.
The area defined on the application is within the parish of Iford and borders Rodmell and Rottingdean parishes as well as Woodingdean & Saltdean (part of the city of Brighton and Hove). It encompasses the Kingston Escarpment & Iford Hill SSSI. It stretches from the C7 road to the borders of Rottingdean and encompasses a number of areas of Public Open Access land as well is public bridleways and the South Downs Way.
Sadly, I have to report that the appeal has been granted regarding the development at Spring Barn Farm (click here to see my report of June 2015). Most of the objections regarding the planning application were relating to the very large barn to be built out in the valley. All of the objections have been largely ignored by the inspector. Click here to Extracts from the inspector’s decision on Spring Barn Farm. You can see the full copy of the inspector’s report and decision by clicking the appeal reference as below:
Appeal Ref: APP/Y9507/W/15/3024061 [Location: Spring Barn Farm Park, Kingston Road, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 3ND. Decision by: David Cliff BA Hons, MSc (Urban Planning) MRTPI dated: 17 December 2015. Site visit made on 27 October 2015]
I had concerns about the original application and I have concerns about how the inspector came to his conclusions and allowed the appeal. This application was originally made in 2012 and most people thought that the application had been abandoned or withdrawn. It was quietly resurrected in 2014 and the application then proceeded. I went across to Midhurst and addressed the National Park Planning Committee meeting on 9 April 2015 and despite the officer report being in favour of allowing the application the members duly noted the objections made by nearby residents in Kingston and also my objections and refused the application. However it was an uphill struggle because prior to the meeting I had asked the officers of the National Park to delay the application and properly consult the parish of Kingston. Unfortunately they refused to do this saying that legally they only had to consult Lewes Town Council as Spring Barn Farm buildings were within the town boundary. I pleaded and said although this might be the case, based upon the Doomsday book parish boundaries drawn up 1000 years ago, the site of Spring Barn Farm clearly affects Kingston residents and the Cockshut valley leading up to Kingston. I got no joy.
An appeal was made against the decision and the Planning Inspectorate decided on a written appeal which was held in July of this year. After many months of delay by the Planning Inspector, during which time significant headway was made in local planning policy in the National Park and Lewes District plans reaffirming the importance of sustainability, landscape, noise and visual aspects of new development, the inspector made his decision largely putting aside these factors. It’s interesting to note that the inspector puts at the head of his document his qualification which includes an MSc in ‘urban planning.’ It is somewhat ironic to appoint a person specialising in urban planning to deal with a National Park landscape matter! Despite the fact that the inspector had all summer to go and see the site when it was at its busiest he didn’t actually visit until 27 October 2015. Obviously at that time of year it would be quiet.
The inspector, whilst recognising in one paragraph that the building is large and substantial he negates any concern by saying it will be screened by existing buildings! He also does not accept that this very large building would be in an isolated position. His main reason for this is that an existing agricultural barn can provide the necessary screening. What he doesn’t say is that the planning authority had no control over the building of the agricultural barn as it is outside planning control. The logic which this inspector applies to things seems to be that one more unsightly building won’t matter because it’s next to an existing one.
Sadly the inspector has ignored completely the concerns of residents about the noise that a much larger retail building will have on adding to the noise levels in this once quiet valley. He ignores the concerns that this new building could be used at night adding to the existing noise in the summertime from the campers on the nearby site. He does not set down any controls over the use of the building at night time and makes no suggestion about the current confused planning status of the car parking in the various areas around the site. He makes no comment about the importance of sustainability which is a cornerstone of the Government’s National Policy Planning Framework. Apart from a small concession where he mentions provision for cycles, it seems that he is quite happy that the much increased intensive use of this site will be fed by people visiting the site by car.
There are some surprises in the planning inspector’s report. He takes very little cognisance of the, almost completed, Lewes Local Plan (Joint Core Strategy). He also makes no reference to the published draft National Park Local Plan despite an appeal to ask him to take it into consideration.
I am in support of outdoor activities for children of all ages and when Spring Barn Farm started I thought that the idea was great. However over the last 10 or 12 years the associated building development has encroached into the rural landscape and urbanised the area. This further development will significantly add to that urbanisation. The decision goes against the grain of the main purposes of the National Park.
Sadly, the Lewes Town Council supported this application. None of the three district councillors representing the ward (Priory) of Lewes covering the area objected nor did any of the town councillors object to the development. Also the Case Officer who made recommendation to approve the original application had very little knowledge of the local area and chose to ignore the objections raised by the Friends of Lewes and South Downs Society and did not think it was important that the people of Kingston be consulted.
Local people must be ever vigilant and must campaign for greater transparency and wider consultation on planning applications irrespective of which parish they actually fall in. It is clear that local people must work very hard to put forward their views and provide detailed, well researched information and evidence. If that is not done the final decision lies with an inspector who has no knowledge of the local area and so the future landscape will be defined without proper consideration. It seems the inspector will only look at the evidence before him so if you don’t provide it he or she won’t take it into consideration. It’s very important to catch things early and try to make sure the officers in the planning department are fully aware of both concerns and material evidence if you are opposing the development. Once reports are written they are treated almost as evidence.
For my part I will do all I can to make sure we get the best possible planning decisions for our area.
District Councillor Vic Ient
PS These words echo my concerns about ill thought out planning & building design:
“Is then no nook of English ground secure from rash assault?” – William Wordsworth
The ESCC Waste and Minerals sites plan consultations are now under way. The consultation period is from 4th until 27th November 2015. To see the plan and comment – click on this link: ESCC Waste Plan
Here is a high level view of the main sites: – please go to the link above to see details. Sadly the image published by the ESCC was not very good. The document references will help locate sites and details.