‘Crunch-time’ as Mid Sussex’s local plan faces public scrutiny

Mid Sussex district countryside (photo from Campaign to Protect Rural England - Sussex branch). SUS-161121-124109001

Mid Sussex district countryside (photo from Campaign to Protect Rural England - Sussex branch). SUS-161121-124109001

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Adopting ‘overambitious and foolhardy’ housing targets could see Mid Sussex District Council ‘setting itself up to fail’, according to campaigners.

Independent examination of the authority’s draft planning framework, which sets out how many and where homes will be built in the district until 2031, is set to begin tomorrow (Tuesday November 29) for four days.

Planning inspector Jonathan Bore will scrutinise the plan and test its soundness during the hearings in public at the council’s offices in Haywards Heath.

In the run up to the examination, Michael Brown, from the Sussex branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, called it ‘crunch-time’ for both the plan and the district, and said: “Core policies in this plan would set the targets for housing and business growth and identify where larger housing settlements could be sited. It is the key document to determine and govern the district’s future for a generation to come. So it needs to be right.”

The district council is proposing an annual target of 800 homes, but the CPRE believes this is ‘unrealistic and undeliverable’.

Mr Brown added: “MSDC is at risk of setting itself up to fail to deliver its over-ambitious, we say foolhardy, new housing policy with all the dire consequences of loss of local planning control we have learned would follow from that.

“CPRE will be asking the Inspector to save MSDC from itself by refusing to endorse a housing target that requires the rape of our countryside, and even then may well not be deliverable.”

Mr Bore will look at whether the plan has been positively prepared, is justified, effective, and consistent with national policy.

In a guidance note he said: “My starting point for the examination is that the council have submitted what the consider to be a sound plan, as the framework requires. Those seeking changes must 
demonstrate why the plan is unsound by reference to one or more of the tests of soundness.

“I will seek to address unresolved issues concerning the soundness or legal compliance of the plan through round-table discussion at the examination hearings, and consideration of the original written representations.

“It should be emphasised that my role is not to improve the plan, but to determine whether or not it meets the soundness test.”

What do you think of the plan? Email your letters to middy.news@jpress.co.uk

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