Cuckfield Parish Council has cast doubt over the robustness of district planning policy after Cabinet members agreed in principle to the sale of a meadow used by village children to play on.
After meeting district council leader Garry Wall and other Cabinet members, parish chair Nigel Page issued a statement saying: “Whilst the disposal of this land may address the MSDC balance sheet, we firmly believe it will undermine the district council’s planning policy and expose the council to other costs and potential legal challenges in the future.
“The district council has worked hard to protect development outside the Built-up Area Boundary (BUAB) both in the current local plan and in the emerging District Plan. Applications have been taken to appeal and examination where an application has gone against policy. Of utmost concern is how the district council will defend future planning applications that are outside the BUAB when the council itself chooses to go against its own policy.”
But Cabinet Member for Finance and Service Delivery Cllr Jonathan Ash-Edwards has defended the Cabinet decision on Monday to agree in principle to the sale of the Courtmead Play Meadow. His letter is on Page 54 this week.
In last week’s Middy, Holy Trinity PCC spoke out strongly against the sale as did nursery owner Janet Beales whose children, like the church youth club, use it all year round.
In a further statement, the district council said: “We are very sensitive to the concerns of local residents and understand that they hold this land in high regard. However, following the meeting last Thursday with the parish council, we believe there is a solution to this issue in the adjacent land which is in the parish council’s ownership, which has good access and holds all the attributes of our land. The council has written to the parish council offering help, advice and assistance to bring this land forward for the local groups that have been using our land. The planning application is being treated like any other application. Neighbours have been notified and notices posted. The possible disposal of the land is separate to the draft Neighbourhood Plan and would not in any way inhibit the progress of their Plan. There is a solution, which is for the parish council to make its nearby land available to local groups. The council is keen to work with the parish council to bring this solution forward as soon as possible.”