As you are aware, the effects of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) are now beginning to filter down into the community and are having an effect on the planning decisions and, in particular, on the shape and destiny of market towns, villages and the open countryside.
There is great concern that a large proportion of major development schemes which fail to gain approval from local councils are granted permission to appeal.
In the majority of the country this situation is exacerbated by the tardiness of Local Plans, but it is also recognized that even where a Local Plan is in place the provisions of the NPPF, in particular the supremacy of “sustainability”, overrides all other considerations.
The definition of this concept is thought to be vague and local people, including planning committees, are having great difficulties countering the claims of developers in respect of this.
The incursion of aggressive and insensitive development is very much resented by many in our communities but local voices do not appear to carry much weight in this situation. The recent comments from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government seem to imply that planning regulations may now be relaxed even further in the countryside and the green belt.
The impact of this policy could have a devastating effect on Rye and its surrounding villages. One wonders whether the true impact of the NPPF has been understood by the people responsible for this legislation, and it is hoped the Government can be persuaded by those expressing concern to amend it before the damage has gone too far.
The Rye Neighbourhood Plan when eventually agreed by the community and Rother District Council will, it is hoped, will defray some of the more insensitive development plans.
It has a long way to go as yet, but it is good to see that there has recently been some positive movements by the Steering Committee, largely thanks to Col Anthony Kimber, who was recently appointed Vice-Chairman of the Group, whose proactive approach to overcoming some of the obstacles facing the Group has given it greater momentum. Regrettably, Neale East, the Group’s Secretary, has had to stand down for personal reasons. The Town Clerk will carry out the role of Secretariat until a replacement can be found. The proposal for Rye to be the designated area for the Plan has been agreed by Rye Town Council, with the inclusion of a formal protocol for involving and communicating with neighbouring parishes. It has also been agreed that a Public Meeting would be held on Thursday,17th October at Rye College. This meeting will be widely advertised with further details to follow.
The Highways Forum will be meeting again on Monday, 23rd September to endeavour to put some flesh on the projects which I, as Chairman, had put before the Forum in June. Rye Town Council has agreed to the proposal to create new loading bays outside the “George Hotel” in the High Street which it is hoped will alleviate the awful parking problems of vans blocking Lion Street to the distress of its residents.
These will be in place shortly. I am asking any one that reads my column to contact me with any useful ideas for improving traffic management in Rye which I may have overlooked. I can be contacted by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01797 227724.