LETTER: Great deal of authority

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With reference to David Henwoods letter ‘What authority does the plan have’ (Middy 18.02.16), the answer is a great deal.

A neighbourhood plan we are told becomes a legally binding document immediately it has been voted in by the council tax payers of a town or parish. The whole process goes as follows:

Under the 1990 Town and Country Planning Act, councilors of parishes and towns, of which Burgess Hill is one, have the legal right to see and to recommend action on all planning applications, of which the Lidl proposal is just one; but they have no power of enforcement. This is sufficient for probably 95 per cent of all applications. The other five per cent of large or contentious applications are dealt with by the district councils planning committee.

In the case of Lidl, a large application, it should be ‘called in’ for consideration by Mid Sussex district planning committee, and the permanent officers of the council should recommend that the application be rejected, based upon the fact that it does not conform with the District Local Plan, for which the Burgess Hill Neighbourhood Plan now forms an integral part.

The Mid Sussex District planning committee can then accept or reject the advice. Were they to reject the advice of their officers, that would open up a whole can of worms regarding legal challenges and the possibility of a judicial review. I know of no occasion nationally where this had yet occurred.

If however the council correctly accepts the advice of their officers and rejects the plan, then Lidl themselves may if they wish, appeal that decision. Should they do so a government appointed inspector will then look and all relevant local documents and in turn, should reject the proposal based upon the notion that it does not conform to the Local or Neighbourhood plans. At least that’s the theory!!

Should Mid Sussex accept the Lidl Proposal or should a Government Inspector accept it, then there is and army of neighbourhood planners such as me, working nationally on thousands of neighbourhood plans, who way as well pack up and go home.

Don McBeth

Chair Ditchling Parish Council and Chair Lewes District Association of Local Councils, Ditchling Common, Ditchling

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