Six years of hard work by councillors and volunteers in two parishes have finally paid off after their neighbourhood plan was given the thumbs-up.
The Storrington, Sullington and Washington Neighbourhood Plan was officially ‘made’ at a Horsham District council meeting last Wednesday, meaning it will now be used to help assess and determine future applications in the area.
The journey to complete the plan was certainly not easy.
Work started in 2013 but an early draft was rejected by examiners in 2016, who said it didn’t meet the basic conditions needed.
An amended version was submitted to the district council in February 2018 and, in November, the examiner suggested a few more changes.
A consultation and referendum followed.
While turnout was low, the majority of people in the parishes approved the plan, sending it on to the district council for formal adoption.
There was praise from all quarters for the volunteers and councillors, particularly steering group chair Anna Worthington-Leese, all of whom refused to give up on the task, despite so many set-backs.
What made the task even more impressive was that Storrington & Sullington Parish and Washington Parish were the first to work together to get a plan to this stage.
Storrington & Sullington councillor Bob Dent, who attended the meeting in Ms Worthington-Leese’s place, said he was ‘absolutely delighted’ with the district council’s decision.
He added: “Six years of hard work has gone into this and I’m absolutely delighted that it’s been passed.
“So many people have put in a lot of hard work to get this across the line and hopefully this protects our little environment for who knows how long.”
Claire Vickers, cabinet member for planning and development, said work on the plan had be ‘thorough and detailed’ and praised the ‘huge commitment and perseverance’ of all involved.
She added: “The community should be very proud of what has been achieved.”
Fewer than one-in-five people in the parishes turned out to vote in the referendum, which council leader Ray Dawe put down to ‘a degree of weariness’ because things had taken so long.