Worth Parish Council: Autumn 2017

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Newsletter Autumn 2017

Letter from the Chairman

  I became chairman of Worth Parish Council in May this year. As many of you are aware I have always had a passionate interest in Crawley Down and Copthorne and will, along with our councillors do my best for you all.

The council is at present writing its vision for the next five years and if any of you have any views on suggested activities or improvements please contact our Clerk Jennifer Nagy at the Parish Office.

In the September/October period, we will have our budgetary requirement and this will give a chance to the community to put forward any ideas they may have on projects. One of the areas we would like to look at is the parking issue in Bowers Place, which has long been a problem to many people accessing this road. We will be consulting with residents to gage what views or concerns they may have.

The Chairman of the Crawley Down Neighbourhood Plan committee is Ian Gibson, and for the Copthorne Neighbourhood plan it is Paul Blakemore. The dates of the meetings of both of these committees are advertised and open to members of the public to attend and ask questions, and I would like to encourage as many people as possible to attend. Our villages are important to us all.

The council are currently updating their website to make it more accessible and user friendly, and we hope to include a host of new information and updates. Already it contains details of proposals to make the M23 a “Smart Motorway” and other useful information. The council agendas and dates and times of the meetings are published on the website as well as on the notice boards in Crawley Down outside the shops, at the Haven Centre, and in Lakeview Road Furnace Wood. In Copthorne they are published outside the Parish Office in Borers Arms Road and outside Copthorne Junior School.

We are always pleased to welcome as many of you as possible at our meetings.

Elaine Anscomb – Chairman Worth Parish Council.

Neighbourhood Plans

Copthorne

I would like to thank all those who have responded to our housing survey. In order for our Copthorne Neighbourhood Plan to have the influence we want on important issues such as the type of housing we want to see (and those we don’t!), we need to ensure that this data remains up-to-date.

With ever-increasing demand for housing in our area, our Neighbourhood Plan has to be robust and stand up in court if legally challenged. Far from the Governments original intention for Neighbourhood Plans to be a relatively simple way for our villages’ collective opinions to be heard and influence future planning decisions, this document has had to evolve in ever increasing detail and complexity. My thanks to everyone who has worked on it, past and present.

The months until Christmas will be crucial, as Mid Sussex District Council develop their District Plan. We also await the response from the Secretary of State on the neighbouring plots with great interest.

Paul Blakemore (Chairman Copthorne Neighbourhood Planning)

Crawley Down

The Crawley Down Neighbourhood Plan was formally adopted by Mid Sussex District Council in January 2016 and planning applications must comply with its policies. The Neighbourhood Plan Sub-Committee met at the Haven Centre on 29th August to review the effectiveness of the plan. The Plan identifies a local need for 64 one and two bed properties in the next 10 years and recognises that development outside the existing village boundary is necessary although it does not set out a preference for any particular site. The plan sets criteria for the proportion of new housing that must meet local needs in any new development as well as requirements for protection of the countryside around the village and for new infrastructure in advance of development.

Disappointingly, an analysis of the new housing completions and approvals since April 2014 has shown that only 24 of the 238 new dwellings for the village address the local housing need. In particular, the proportion of two and three bed properties approved (48%) is significantly less than the target of “at least 75%” in the Neighbourhood Plan. This position will considerably worsen if the applications for 60 new homes beyond Hazel Close and 44 beyond Wychwood Place are approved.

It is clear that the plan policies are not currently achieving their aim. This situation may improve when the District Plan is finally approved early next year. However, there is concern that the District Plan does not set a fixed requirement for new housing in the parish and the current rate of development could therefore continue. The Sub-Committee are therefore considering amending the Plan to identify sites and specifically exclude others. The selection of sites will need to be through a formal community consultation and I would urge everyone to participate.

Ian Gibson (Chairman Crawley Down Neighbourhood Planning)

Planning and Highways

The volume of planning applications received by Worth Parish for comment continues to be significant.

The Inspector for the District Plan has now declared that he is content that the Plan in principle is sound and that MSDC have a 5.2 year supply of housing land. This should, in theory, be of benefit to the Parish in terms of current applications but in practice MSDC do not appear to want to accept the Inspectors statement and are not applying this significant change in their position to planning application decisions. This is a very frustrating and illogical situation.

The Secretary of State has further delayed the decision regarding the inquiry into sites west of Turners Hill Road and at Hazel Close. His decision is now expected on 16 September 2017. The reasons given where to understand fully, recent decisions of the Supreme Court relating to the interpretation of elements of the National Planning Policy Framework and the effects of traffic pollution on Ashdown Forest.

The Crawley Down Neighbourhood Advisory Committee has now been reconvened to review the progress of the plan and to propose changes to improve the Plan performance.

The Copthorne Neighbourhood Advisory Committee are looking at the changes required to their draft plan following Regulation 14 Consultation, prior to the Plan being submitted to MSDC for Regulation 16 pre-examination consultation.

J Hitchcock (Chairman Planning and Highways)

General Purposes & Finance

The Income and Expenditure figures for the Quarter to end June show that the Council is operating comfortably within our Budget. A small task force has been set up to improve the Management Information available to Councillors. We have also engaged a new Internal Auditor who will support us in ensuring the Council operates in accordance with Best Practice.

A number of administrative issues have been resolved e.g a new Contract has been signed for maintenance of Street Lighting, repairs and improvements effected to both Copthorne and Crawley Down Play areas and a new Contract for the lease of Copthorne Pavilion is being negotiated.

Crawley Down Village Hall is proposing an improvement in its car parking arrangements. The Council is lending support for this and also for improving street parking in Bowers Place.

Finally, we were pleased to hear that the Copthorne Speedwatch initiative is being revived and your Council is in full support of this. Borers Arms Road has seen a number of accidents caused in no small part by excessive speed and it is hoped that drivers will respond sensibly to the Speedwatch volunteers.

Kerry Scott – Chairman General Purposes and Finance