WHAT IS A NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN? The government’s 2011 Localism Act is intended to give local communities a greater say in planning issues, and to let local people decide upon a vision for their area. Under the Act, towns and parishes can prepare Neighbourhood Plans, which will form part of the District Plan. Neighbourhood Plans will cover not only development, but infrastructure needs, like schools, roads, medical provision, waste water disposal and economic and social objectives. Hassocks Parish Council has made a Neighbourhood Plan for Hassocks, which will help shape the future development of the village for the next 20 years.
WHAT DOES THE PROCESS INVOLVE? The process involves drafting a plan, and engaging with the community in its preparation. The plan is then submitted to an independent assessment to ensure it is consistent with the Mid Sussex District Plan and national planning policies. If the plan passes external examination it is then subject to a referendum in which all residents eligible to vote in the village can express their views. If more than 50% of voters support the plan, then decisions on future planning applications must take the Neighbourhood Plan into account. There are challenges however, particularly from recent changes to government planning policy, which aim to free land for building. It is also very important to realise that some change is inevitable. A Neighbourhood Plan must comply with local and national planning policies and these require Hassocks to accept some new housing and business development. Crucially, the plan must be consistent with the Mid Sussex District Plan and its policies – which take priority. The task for Hassocks was to work within these constraints to serve the needs of the community and preserve the vision for the village which the local people want. This was a major undertaking for Hassocks Parish Council. Councillors therefore involved local groups, institutions, businesses and individuals with a particular interest or expertise in the development of the plan and also to ensure that the views of residents are taken into account. If you would like further information, please contact the Parish Office, or one of these Councillors
who are members of the Council’s Neighbourhood Plan Group.
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