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OCT 2020 – CHURCH ROAD SITE. CURRENT SITUATION UPDATE.

Following an extensive marketing campaign, a preferred developer has been chosen. Currently, contract negotiations between all parties are continuing, so agreements have not yet been signed off.  The Trustees are sensitive to the wishes of many people to know the identity of the developer and would like to share it, but for commercial reasons it cannot be disclosed until agreements are in place.  This information will be released as soon as agreements are finalised and signed.

The South Downs National Park Authority Local Plan has allocated the site for between eight and twelve residential units.  The split between the affordable and the market housing reflects a ratio laid down by the SDNPA and we are planning for 4 affordable and 6 market homes on the site, a mix which complies with the rules without overcrowding the area. 

The developer, working closely with the Trustees of SIN and the Steep War Memorial Village Club, (the charity looking after the Village Hall), will involve and consult the Village throughout the process of developing the planning application.  This will begin as soon as agreements are in place and before any detailed design work is started.  This initial engagement will be followed by further consultations with the Village, before a planning application is submitted to the SDNPA, who of course have the last word! 

One fifth of the site will be set aside as public open space, accessible to all and directly linked to the Village Hall.  Steep Parish Council have already begun an initial consultation to understand what people in the Village want to see there.  The results of this will be shared shortly and will feed into the design of the open space.  We anticipate that the Parish Council will, in due course, assume responsibility for managing the open space.

One of our main concerns is to try to ensure that the affordable homes, as time passes, remain under local control and do not migrate into the private sector. Discussions are in hand with Eames Almshouses’ Trust (EAT), with the full involvement of the developer, to enable EAT to become the purchaser of the affordable housing, in preference to a Housing Association which would be the usual route for a developer to take. To achieve this, EAT will require substantial funds which currently they do not have.  Subject to the agreement of the Charity Commission and of the other parties involved, SIN is planning to use cash received from the land sale to assist EAT financially.  This would ensure ownership of the affordable homes stays within the Village in perpetuity.

NEXT STEPS

Ground Water Monitoring. Before any development takes place, environmental testing is required and some of this can only be carried out at certain times of year. Ground water monitoring has to start around the beginning of November, and it continues for 6 months.  As agreements cannot yet be signed off, the Trustees plan to commission this work themselves and you may, therefore, see some activity on the site in the coming days and months, but this does not pre-empt any required agreements or approvals.

A sale of the small part of the site owned by the Steep War Memorial  Village Club needs approval from the Charity Commission.  The Commission has sought public representations on this and will then decide whether to give its approval.  We don’t know how long this may take.

If the Charity Commission gives its approval, we expect to finalise agreements as soon as possible. Once agreed we will announce the name of the developer and plans for the consultation processes with the Village which will follow.

In the meantime SIN have launched a new website: htps://steepinneed.org.uk  We will be making regular updates and posts here as well as announcements in the Steep Parish Newsletter. Please have a look at the website!

Anthony Littlejohn (Chairman, Steep In Need)

Nick Hurst (Chairman, Steep War Memorial Village Club)