'Do not undermine neighbourhood plans',MP tells Planning Inspector
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert voiced his support for the Mid Sussex Local Plan but warned that “neighbourhood plans should not be unpicked” in order to accommodate additional housing.
Mr Herbert was speaking on the third day of the Mid Sussex Local Plan examination hearing with the planning inspector (Thursday 2 December). Making his representation with Sir Nicholas Soames MP (Mid Sussex), the MPs gave their backing to the Plan which is being examined.
In his representation, Sir Nicholas said: “We are here to demonstrate our wholehearted support for the draft local plan as it is presented.”
“We support the level of housing where it is promoted by the council and we respect the very difficult work it has been to balance with the critical environmental constraints of the area.”
Nick Herbert echoed Mr Soames’ support, saying “there must be no further delay to the Plan. A delay would create uncertainty, and that would delay the building of any houses.”
In support of the neighbourhood plans, of which there are just three still to be completed in Mid-Sussex, Mr Herbert warned against undermining them saying “if neighbourhood plans are subverted then the volunteers, who have worked so hard to prepare them, will not do so again.”
Mr Herbert’s concerns came after the inspector suggested that the Local Plan housing target of 800 houses per annum may be too low.
The planning inspector responded to the MPs comments immediately, stating that he recognises the value of neighbourhood plans. He commended Mid Sussex District Council for creating the right environment for the development of neighbourhood plans and their successful uptake. He also confirmed that he wants to see ‘a plan-led system in place’.
Mid Sussex must now wait for further guidance from the inspector and his advice on the house-building target. They will reconvene for a further hearing day on Friday 9 December.
Mr Herbert said: “Everyone recognises the need for more housing, but to deliver it we need a plan-led system, not a developers' free-for-all.
"I fully support Mid Sussex District Council's plan and also strongly support the neighbourhood plans which have been drawn up by villages such as Hassocks and Hurstpierpoint in my constituency.
"These plans are delivering more housing than expected and they should not be undermined by developers whose real interest is to tear up the plans and build wherever they want, including the Mayfield new town which is not supported by our local councils.
"We already have an infrastructure deficit in Mid-Sussex, with for instance local village schools becoming oversubscribed. There must be a sensible balance between providing necessary new housing and protecting the integrity of our villages and the Sussex countryside."
1. Photograph – Sir Nicholas Soames MP with Nick Herbert MP at Mid Sussex District Council Chambers.