What is a Neighbourhood Plan?
I am often asked what is all this about a Neighbourhood Plan for Rye? With so much talk of localism, changes in the planning law and the government’s decision to
revoke the South East Plan, it is no wonder people are confused and cannot quite see how the Rye Neighbourhood Plan fits in, and whether it will make much difference to the average person in the street.
Perhaps I will attempt to explain, and in doing so, I want to refer to the Rye Neighbourhood Planning Steering Group’s very informative document for Rye Town Council in which it was stated that Neighbourhood Planning was a key part of the Localism Act which received Royal assent in November 2011. The Act changes the planning system by allowing communities to develop their own local plans. Those who decide to do so – the process is voluntary – will draft a Neighbourhood Plan, which will be put to a local referendum for adoption. Once adopted the plan provides a local planning framework. Rye Town Council, having taken soundings, has decided to
develop a neighbourhood plan to provide the community with ownership of planning policies affecting the Rye area.
The important thing is the community will decide what it wants to achieve in the area. From July 2013 the Group will arrange events and forums to enable wide
consultation with all citizens who live or work in Rye, including local organizations, to embrace views and ideas. There will be a number of working groups who will be tasked to tackle the themes of the plan. These will most likely include housing, community facilities, community safety, green spaces, environment, waste and recycling, the local economy, roads and transport, and flood risks.
The Steering Group comprises councillors and citizens, and have already had meetings to agree objectives, decide the planning area and make a work plan with timelines. It will not be easy, and it will take time, for there is much to learn. Evidence has to be collected using existing policies and studies, ideas examined, and agreement of a detailed process. The evidence will inform general planning policies for the development and use of land in a neighbourhood. Citizens will be able to say, for example, where new homes and offices should be built, and what they should look like It is hoped this vision for the future will go some way to counter any unwanted housing development in Rye. Once a neighbourhood plan is in force, decision makers will be obliged, by law, to take account of what it says, when they consider proposals for any development in the Rye area.
The Chief Executive of Rother District Council has circulated Parish and Town Councils his concern as to how best to manage the increase in the housing supply
proposed by the government’s planning inspector. Rother says it is therefore vital that there is more local planning so that a Local Plan Strategy can be adopted. It follows, therefore, that the Rye Neighbourhood Plan itself is adopted at the earliest possible time.