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Cabinet to consider draft Local Plan consultation

North Barnes Farm 'unsuitable' and not included

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Cabinet councillors at Lewes District Council will shortly consider the latest version of the draft local plan, known as the 'preferred options document'. At a meeting on the 9 November councillors will be asked to approve the next phase of public consultation.

A local plan sets out the policies and framework for the future development of new homes, employment space and community facilities, such as schools. Local plans are evidence led, with the information gathered by council officers informing where new development is appropriate and where it is not. 

The government gives every council an annual housing target for new homes built - the target for Lewes district is 602 homes per year, double the previous target.

Councillor Zoe Nicholson, Leader of Lewes District Council, said:

"We have always known that the government's housing target is completely at odds with the reality on the ground in the district. It was never achievable and our officers, following a meticulous assessment of all the evidence gathered, have now shown that beyond any doubt.

"We have always accepted the need for more housing and I'm very proud that unlike many councils we have built affordable homes, but all development must be sustainable.

"Residents will soon have their say as we look to find appropriate locations for achievable levels of new housing - these properties would be in addition to the approximately 5,000 homes already in the pipeline.

"The evidence gathered so far shows that we can only deliver a maximum of 210 homes a year and we need the public to join in this latest consultation so that we can keep the pressure on the government not to impose their higher targets on our district."

The volume of information and evidence collated so far by the council's planning team is significant. It includes 42,000 representations from residents and organisations that followed the 'call for sites' and issues and options documentation, with all the comments and contributions carefully assessed. 

It is only through this comprehensive approach that the council will be able to demonstrate to the planning inspector, at the examination stage, the level of housing that is sustainable in the district.

The North Barnes Farm site is promoted by Eton College and has attracted more comment than any of the other potential locations for housing development.  Following detailed assessment by council officers, the evidence has shown that the site is unsuitable and is not being consulted upon in this draft options paper.

Councillor Laurence O'Connor, Cabinet Member for Planning, said:

"We want a plan that helps our residents, young and old, find lifelong homes where they chose to live, not where they are currently forced to live, often due to prohibitively high house prices.  Our evidence shows that we need more smaller homes in the district that are truly affordable.

"The unprecedented volume of responses during the first public consultation was an example of excellent public engagement, but residents really must get involved in the process again. 

"The comments we received were vital to help us get to this stage and we need the community to continue to have their say, so the voice of the people is heard when we come to agree our plan with the planning inspector."

The consultation exercise will run until February 2024 and details of how to take part will shortly be shared in the local media, on the council website and social media channels.

 

Published on October 26, 2023.

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