South Downs parish councils say they are taking the first steps to shape their neighbourhood plans under the new Localism Act.
These plans are said to give parishes and residents the power to say where they want developments to take place in their town or village.
This follows controversial green field developments that have affected South Downs communities across the board, including Storrington’s Melton Drive application that was recently refused approval by Horsham District Council.
Under the new Act, parishes will have the opportunity to formulate their own plan or cluster with neighbouring parishes in a collaborative effort.
The County Times contacted 13 parishes and asked them where they stood with the Government’s initiative.
Storrington and Sullington at their parish meeting last week, July 24, announced they would be joining forces with Washington.
Washington parish clerk Rebecca Luckin confirmed this and said: “We’re just at the very beginning and will be seeking advice from Action in Rural Sussex (AIRS).”
Storrington and Sullington also approached Thakeham to join, but it declined to do so, having already started development on its own plan.
Thakeham parish clerk Karen Dawes said: “We applied to do our plan some months ago and now we’re currently being designated by Horsham District Council.”
Henfield will be launching its own plan and is currently finalising its application.
“We still need to resolve what the area for planning will be. We’ll then move forward with community engagement,” said Henfield parish council clerk, Philip Hill.
Henfield had approached Woodmancote to cluster, but it declined.
Woodmancote parish chairman, Colin Broucke, said: “We think it will be more beneficial to do it alone, but we’re happy to consult with the other parishes.
“However, I feel there has been a lack of forcefulness from Horsham District Council about discussions on the subject. We’re essentially volunteers doing a paid job.”
Pulborough parish clerk Sarah Norman said the council had ‘resolved with an intention to do a plan’.
She said: “We’re currently looking at the funding side of things. We need to decide how much will be done in-house.”
Ashurst parish clerk Hazel Roxby said the council was ‘interested’ in clustering with Steyning. “But with us being so small and Steyning being so much bigger, we need to see if it’s doable,” she said.
Steyning parish clerk Sue Booth confirmed the council was to do a plan, but was also yet to decide whether it would join forces with another parish.
However, West Chiltington parish clerk Tony Thomas said the council would wait to hear from residents at its next public meeting before starting a plan. He said: “If the community say they want one, then we will probably have one.”
Currently, West Chiltington is also waiting to hear whether it will cluster with Storrington and Sullington.
Amberley parish clerk Margaret Butler confirmed the council would do a plan and has also invited AIRS to speak at a future meeting.
Bury parish clerk Rosemary Trent said the council was setting out to do a plan.
She said: “We’re thinking of possibly doing it with Sutton at the moment.”
Fittleworth parish chairman Chris Welfare said the council planned to do a village survey before developing its own plan.