The first Neighbourhood Plan in Mid Sussex to reach examination stage has failed to reach local referendum, which would normally follow a successful examination.
The parish of Slaugham, which includes Handcross, was only the tenth in the country to advance its plan to this stage, but now it must be reconsidered.
In a statement the parish council revealed it was the examiner’s opinion certain assessments ‘had not met the requirements of the relevant EU legislation’.
This included inadequate environmental assessment of a controversial Community Right to build Order (CRO) to erect 76 dwellings on the periphery of Handcross, in St Martin’s Close.
This was welcome news for Handcross Residents Action Group which stated: “We are pleased to say that [the Inspector’s] decision is that the Neighbourhood Plan and the Community Right to build Orders contained within it should not proceed to a referendum on the basis that it does not meet the necessary legal requirements.
“MSDC and The Parish Council are now considering their options and the HRAG will continue to monitor these and make representations to ensure that if a new Plan is produced, that it incorporates the wishes and needs of the whole parish.”
In her report the Inspector praised the Parish, saying its ‘aspirations and ambitions are sound’ - an element Mid Sussex District Council brought to the fore in its press statement, with a caveat that she also ‘asked for some further work on procedural matters’.
The tone of the release angered 65-year-old Coos Lane resident Colin Smith who said: “This is propaganda; a distortion of the facts and something that should not be coming from a local authority or the Parish Council.”
In response, Cllr Norman Webster, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Economic Development said: “The reasons for the Examiner’s recommendations were largely procedural and in her opinion, could be satisfactorily overcome.”
Mr Smith said the Plan had cost £80,000 to prepare, and asked where the new funds now needed would come from.
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