In January 2019 we reached an important landmark in the progress of Fittleworth’s Neighbourhood Development Plan. At its meeting on 21st January, the Parish Council approved the latest version of the Plan and associated documents, and authorised their submission to the South Downs National Park Authority. This took place on 23rd January. The SDNPA will check the Plan for legal compliance, and then conduct their own 6 week period of public consultation on our Plan.

Representations will be invited from many of the same public bodies who commented when we held our own consultation in early 2018, but it will be open to any interested group or individual to make comments. The next stage will be for SDNPA to appoint an Independent Examiner, who will conduct a thorough evaluation of the Plan. When any changes decided at this stage have been implemented, a Referendum on the Plan (in which all voters in the parish will be able to participate) will be conducted. This will probably not take place until after the elections in May.

It has taken over four years for us to reach this stage. Significant landmarks have been:

– November 2014 – public meeting which agreed that we should develop a Neighbourhood Plan; Steering Group established
– June 2015 – Housing Survey
– October 2015 – presentation in Village Hall seeking views on what the Plan should seek to implement
– Decision by SDNPA that we should conduct a Sustainability Appraisal and Habitat Regulations Assessment
– Development of Pre-Submission version of Plan
– January 2018 – public presentation in Village Hall at start of 6 week consultation period
– March – May 2018 – evaluation of representations made, implementing changes
– Late 2018 – emergence of conflict between European regulations for protecting habitats and the Neighbourhood Plan rules (Sweetman case). Significant changes to Plan and Appendices implemented

If you have any questions about the process, write to me at chriswelfare@btinternet.com