Horsham parish councils show ‘strong interest’ in neighbourhood plans

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Strong interest has been shown by 14 of the Horsham district’s local parish councils in the creation of Neighbourhood Plans (NP) and two have now moved to the next stage in progressing their plans, said a spokesperson for Horsham District Council (HDC).

Nuthurst and West Grinstead parish councils have each had their ‘Neighbourhood Area’ approved by HDC. They will now go on to prepare their NPs.

Under the Localism Act 2011, communities are able to produce their own NPs and, once in place, they can take ownership of planning and development in their particular areas, while some can prioritize money paid directly to them for infrastructure improvements they believe are needed under the Government’s new Community Infrastructure Levy.

For areas which include parts of the South Downs National Park, HDC will be working in partnership with the park authority to support neighbourhood planning.

A new financial package has been agreed by HDC to give grants to parishes and Neighbourhood Forums (for unparished parts of the district) to assist them with the work they will need to do to get well founded NPs in place.

NPs can be used to help decide planning applications and to pinpoint the most suitable places for appropriate new development.

Ray Dawe, leader of HDC, said: “Horsham District Council is building a reputation as one of the leading councils in the country for giving tangible support to empower communities to get involved in Neighbourhood Planning by giving them for the first time powerful planning tools and resources to do the job.

“We believe that local people know their areas best and can help to shape and protect the local environment they cherish by encouraging the type of development best suited to meet their needs.

“We are saying to our Parish and Neighbourhood Councils now is not the time to hold back.”

Claire Vickers, cabinet member for Living and Working Communities, said: “We are thrilled that the first of many communities are coming forward to Horsham District Council wanting to lead in delivering the places local people can enjoy through drawing up their own Neighbourhood Plan to cover their community.”

The first stage for any local community is to decide on what is the appropriate area to be covered by their NP.

HDC is now asking local people to consider the latest areas to come forward for NPs and give their comments on whether these can best serve the interests of good planning.

Comments are wanted up to Monday December 23 2013 on the following plan area proposals:

· Ashington Parish

· Pulborough Parish

· Shermanbury Parish

· Southwater Parish

· Warnham Parish

· West Chiltington Parish

· Woodmancote Parish

When the plan areas have been agreed, the parish councils concerned can, with confidence, gather evidence and engage with the community direct to draw up suggested planning policies and land allocations which best suit local needs.

The finished plans will then be submitted to HDC, which will arrange for an independent assessor to check them before holding a local referendum.

HDC is anticipating that many more communities will be coming forward with their own plan area proposals in the next few months.

People outside these first areas can contact their own parish council to see if a NP proposal is going to be made to better influence control and shape the future planning for their area

Visit HDC’s website for more information on those parishes currently consulting on NP preparation and to take part in this consultation.