Newick residents will be voting on 26th February 2015 on whether the Newick Neighbourhood Plan, prepared by Newick Parish Council, should be adopted.
This is a very significant day for Newick.The plan shows where 100 new homes could be built in the village. No doubt there is a need for some homes in Newick, but surely not as many as 100.
This figure has been forced upon the parish by Lewes District Council.
The District Council has simply followed a mathematical exercise on the number of houses needed in the whole of their District and then chosen Newick as a convenient place to put some of those houses.
The District Council’s housing policies are certainly not based on the needs of Newick.
Indeed, the District Council’s intention is a ‘MINIMUM’ of 100.
The independent examiner of the Neighbourhood Plan recognised that ‘...nowhere does the Neighbourhood Plan seek to place a cap or a maximum limit on the number of dwellings to be built...’ Also, there is no phasing policy, so is it really a plan or just a mechanism to promote growth?
It is a pity that the District Council pays so little regard to the recent history of Newick.
The village has already had massive expansion in the 1960s and 70s, when over 40 acres of green field sites were used to build new houses. That was all part of a comprehensive Village Plan prepared by the County Council that has kept the village alive with shops, a busy school, a health centre, umpteen clubs and societies etc. It is not a dying village. It is a success. Having achieved that success, creating a fine village community, we should not lose those benefits with excessive and unnecessary expansion.
Surely a more reasonable approach by the decision-makers would be to plan and provide new housing in the District in places where there would be a benefit, where areas could be reinvigorated, in the same way that Newick has benefitted in the past.
I thought that the wonderful word ‘Localism’ was going to mean something significant for village planning, but government pressure is manoeuvring communities into creating plans which do not really reflect what local people want.
So, I would say to residents when they choose whether to vote on the 26th February... bear in mind that the Parish Council has put in a lot of work to produce a Neighbourhood Plan and has been faced with fierce pressures from the government and from the District Council, but do you really want to join in the process of supporting a minimum of 100 new houses in Newick ?