It has been interesting to read the lengthy correspondence in your columns in the last few weeks about the pros and cons of the Haywards Heath Neighbourhood Plan (NP) referendum.
It is perhaps significant that the question that is actually being put to voters on 1 December has not been revealed.
Your readers may think that they will be asked to vote ’yes’ for, or ‘no’ against the ‘adoption’ or acceptance of the Plan as it currently presented. Not so. The NP itself has in practice already been determined and is now immutable.
The question that they are being asked is: “Do you want Mid Sussex District Council to use the Neighbourhood Plan for Haywards Heath to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?” This question in this format has been imposed by central government for use in all neighbourhood plan referenda.
If voters answer ‘yes’ to this question, they are empowering the District Council to use the NP to help decide (not actually to decide, but merely to “help decide”, as a ‘material consideration’) planning applications in Haywards Heath.
If they vote ‘no’, they are empowering the District Council to make planning decisions ostensibly without recourse to the NP. But the District Council’s intentions for massive development in Haywards Heath, particularly to the south of the town, have already been revealed in its District Plan. Since the NP was devised in collusion with the District Council, it already fully reflects MSDC’s intentions.
Hence it makes very little difference how one votes: MSDC’s planned developments will go ahead anyway, in response to central government’s pressure for extensive house building in the South East.
To borrow from Mr Warwick’s most recent letter, ‘Demockery’ seems apposite to describe this state of affairs.
Fox Hill Village, Haywards Heath
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