The current stage of Wealden’s Local Plan, which will guide development in the District until 2037, is being extended for three months to allow for the completion of a number of key studies. These are necessary to ensure the most appropriate proposals are put forward.
We had hoped to be putting forward the Revised Wealden Local Plan this December for further representations but delays in some of the reports from our consultants, many of which are inter-related, and the need to allow for them to be accurately assessed, mean that we will be aiming to bring forward the Revised Local Plan document by the end of the first quarter of 2017.
Given the scale of development we are expecting during the next 20 years, I want to be sure we have the best information at hand.
There has been a high demand nationally for the specialist skills we have needed as the country gears up for a period of growth. This has had an impact on the completion of our work. The revised timetable will still see us aiming for final Wealden Local Plan adoption in 2018.
One of the key pieces of evidence which is not yet complete relates to the impact of development on Ashdown Forest. The Council is drawing up a comprehensive picture of what development will be possible across the District whilst continuing to protect Ashdown Forest. This has involved monitoring levels of nitrogen deposition on the Forest, regular ecology reports and traffic modelling work which will need to reflect highway improvements across the District including improvements to the A27.
The extended deadline will give the Council an opportunity to share some on-going elements of the work at an earlier stage, ahead of the formal publication of the document.
The Issues and Options Local Plan proposals published by the Council last year sought to put in place measures to provide for a period of economic growth in the District including a further 12,500 new homes above those which have already been approved through earlier plans. These will be supported by an expansion of retail and business space and an improved provision of health and education services and transport infrastructure improvements, amongst others.