The referendum for Newick’s Neighbourhood Plan on Thursday 26th February is for one of two choices:
The Village as a whole having greater say in Village planning decisions by our locally elected Parish Council (PC) through legally mandated statements of Newick’s requirements that are binding on levels above our local level.
To allow planning decisions to be taken by an authority, Lewes District Council (LDC) or higher, who are distanced from the real heart of the Village and who will allow developments to be placed rough-shod over local wishes.As voters we must consider whether the PC team who have worked so hard to produce this plan over many, many months is whether they have reasonably taken into account ALL the wishes of local people and have produced a balanced Neighbourhood Plan for the Village as a whole. The team are of course local Village people too. Sadly it appears that the naysayers are already putting out spurious arguments and bending facts. Their assertion that 100 houses is too many for the needs of Newick today. This, according to our current Government is wrong. The Government has mandated that our region has to have a particular number to be built over the coming years. Thus the planning system has decomposed this number through the various planning levels and that shortly Newick must start building its contribution of 100 units for the greater good. The Neighbourhood Plan will not change this, but at least it will constrain where these will be built, and just as importantly, what type of development.
By rejecting the Neighbourhood Plan with a NO vote the planning authorities up the chain will therefore assume that Newick is quite happy to increase its housing and will approve all manner of future developments knowing that there will be little objection or fight. The Village accepting the Neighbourhood Plan with a YES vote it will control and mandate a structured level of development over the coming years in line with the wishes of the majority of Newick residents. Of course some will encourage the NO vote because by having no structured village plan the tracts of land that they own will bring significant riches through uncontrolled development: approvals will be more easily won with no Neighbourhood Plan.
Others might be encouraging the NO vote because as NIMBYs they’d be affected by developments and believe that they have a good chance of getting a development stopped because of some belief in the current planning system would automatically accede to their objections. A NO vote may also be desired by some who probably have little interest in the village and its overall desire to have a strongly mandated say in its growth over the coming years and who believe that people external to the village will know better than its occupants as to what is right.
According to the draft planning policy, when there is no local plan or it is “silent, indeterminate or where relevant policies are out of date”, then the local district council and above will be obliged to approve all applications, allowing developers – to quote one ministerial aide – “to build what they like, where they like”.
I would hope that all the villagers of Newick will give full consideration to their vote next Thursday 26th February and vote. I would strongly hope that they vote YES. The Neighbourhood Plan has been well researched; all the residents of the Village have had many opportunities to have their say in its production..
Let’s all hope for a YES vote and move forward. Without a Neighbourhood Plan we might as well all move out as Newick is unconditionally changed out of all recognition over the coming years through thoughtless development that runs against the majority of current village thinking.