Mid Sussex District Council (MSDC) have stopped work on Hassocks Parish Council’s Neighbourhood Plan whilst it waits for a decision on the number of homes required for the whole of Mid Sussex District.
There is absolutely nothing the Parish Council can do about this because the Neighbourhood Planning Regulations stipulate that once a Draft Plan has been submitted to, and accepted by, the Local Planning Authority – Mid Sussex – control of the Plan must pass to them.
The next step is for a Public Examination to be held, presided over by an Independent Government Inspector, who will be appointed by MDSC. But unexpectedly and most unfortunately they have delayed this Examination until agreement is reached on the housing requirement for the entire District of Mid Sussex for the Plan Period of 2014 – 2031.
The District Plan, which has now been ten years in preparation, was rejected by the Government Inspector earlier this year on the grounds that it made insufficient provision for new housing. MSDC had proposed 13,600 homes and the Inspector ruled that 17,442 homes was the minimum requirement. Part of this increase arose from a ruling by the Inspector that MSDC should provide an additional 150 homes each year to satisfy housing need which cannot be met within the limited confines of Crawley. Since then MSDC have been seeking the agreement of Crawley Borough Council to waive this requirement until 2022.
In the meantime MSDC have stated that they are unable to advise Hassocks Parish Council of the number of new homes they require the Neighbourhood Plan to provide. As a result, they are not prepared to let the Plan go forward to Examination.
Chairman of Hassocks Parish Council, Ian Weir, said:-
“Our Plan and those of all the other Town and Parish Councils in Mid Sussex are direct casualties of the battle between the development world and MSDC. We have once again been frustrated in our efforts to ensure our village gets the development it wants and needs. Our Plan, which has been prepared after a huge amount of consultation, offers a balanced and sustainable way forward. It has now been further delayed, leaving the village once again at the mercy of developers rather than allowing localism to have its fair chance.
We are determined to complete our Neighbourhood Plan; this offers the best chance of protecting our environment. Unfortunately, we have no idea when the District Council will tell us how many new homes they expect Hassocks to accommodate. Until we hear from them we cannot decide how, and when, we should progress our Plan”.