Consultation on planning blueprint delayed

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Wealden District Council have said because there is currently too much uncertainty in national planning policy and Government housing targets they have decided to delay the consultation with communities and stakeholders.

A Local Plan sets out the future development needs for an area, like how many new homes and jobs are needed and what supporting infrastructure is required. It is prepared by the local planning authority in consultation with the community.

Wealden District Council were going to publish their draft Local Plan for comment this Spring. However because of uncertainty in planning reform they have decided to amend their timetable. The new Council Leader Councillor Ann Newton, who remains in charge of the planning portfolio, said:

The Local Plan is an important document and we wanted to progress it as quickly as possible in order to meet the government’s deadline of plan adoption by 2024 – and provide certainty to our communities, partners and developers on the future planning strategy for the district.

However, there is too much uncertainty currently which would directly affect our Local Plan strategy and the content of our draft plan for us to consult on a Draft Local Plan at this time.

We need to understand what these changes are and for any updated requirements to be considered as part of our plan-making process and included in our draft Local Plan.

This understanding will ensure that the plan we consult on is relevant, up-to-date, sound and robust and will not require later amendments to account for any future national changes that we are aware are coming.

Cllr Newton

The issues include matters around the housing numbers the authority is obliged to provide, a new National Planning Policy Framework prospectus not yet published and uncertainty surrounding a new Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill – announced in May and proposing a number of key changes to the planning system – which will affect the way Local Plans are produced and their content.

The Council have said they consider it really important to understand these matters ahead of any consultation, as these matters will directly affect their strategy and the content of their Plan.

Wealden have said in the meantime they continue to work on the planning policy evidence base and are conducting other key studies, but they are revising the timetable and in particular the consultation has been “pushed back.”

Once they have considered the nature of planning reform, the Council will publish an updated timetable. Further detail is provided on their website Wealden Local Plan.

After the consultation, the stage is that the Plan is submitted to the Planning Inspectorate. On behalf of the Secretary of State they assess whether the Plan has been prepared in line with the relevant legal requirements. Last time around in 2020, that the Planning Inspector decided that the Plan was not legally compliant and unsound and advised Wealden District Council to withdraw it and start over again.

Click to see a map showing major housing developments in the Crowborough area.

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