The U.K.’s newest National Park covers an area of 628 square miles of Southern England and the journey to adoption of the new South Downs Local Plan has been a long one. After a number of years in preparation and an extensive consultation process, the plan has been undergoing a formal examination by Inspector Brian Sims in recent months. His review is intended to check whether or not the plan is technically sound and that all the representations received during the consultation have been carefully considered. The Inspector will decide whether the Plan can be adopted as it currently stands or whether modifications are required. Depending on the significance of any changes he requires, a further period of consultation may be needed. The Plan is a large and complex document, covering many aspects of planning policy, as well as determining the use of a number of specific areas within the Park. Full details of the document, the changes that have so far been made and the process being followed can be found by going to www.southdowns.gov.uk/planning and following the links to the Local Plan.
This process matters to Steep because the Plan includes a number of changes to the Settlement Boundary for the parish. Most significantly, there is a proposal to incorporate the land south of Church Road and next to the Village Hall (now in the care of the trustees of the Steep in Need charity) plus a small area of Village Hall land into the settlement boundary. These changes – and the Parish Council’s view of them – were described in the Newsletter of
December 2017 and also referred to in the June 2018 issue (these back-copies are accessible on www.SteepVillage.com under Useful Information). The South Downs plan identified a potential development of between eight and twelve houses on the Church Road site. Because some representations had been received which objected to this change in the Settlement Boundary, the Park planners reviewed their proposal, reconfirmed the proposed allocation for development but have suggested a modification to the plan by adding a condition that 20% of the area should be retained as open space. There was a specific review of the objections (and the SDNPA’s revised proposal) by the Inspector in early December. We will not know the result of his deliberations until his overall decision on the Plan is published in due course. There is no definite date for this but it may happen in the next ninety days.
Once the Planning Inspector’s report is issued, the substance of the Plan will be firmer, and we can start to discuss the possibilities for this important site in the heart of Steep. The trustees of Steep in Need, of the Village Hall and the Parish Council are committed to ensuring that there is the best possible consultation on any proposals.