Rother & Hastings District Update September 2019
The changing complexion of our Planning Committee; progress on the Development Site Allocation Plan… plus a plea for volunteers.
May elections provided a significant change for planning with the rejection of 24 years of Conservative control and the installation of a Rainbow Coalition, comprising Independents, Liberal Democrats, Labour and one Green councillor.
This means the complexion of the Planning Committee has changed, with an Independent member now chairing it. He has indicated a very positive agenda thus far.
He is looking at extending the right to speak at Planning Committee Meetings; Rother was the last council in the whole of Sussex to adopt this practice. It should be easier for people to apply to speak and would give Parish Councils the automatic right to speak on any application before Committee, which affects them.
Progress on the Development Site Allocation Plan is being made, albeit slowly, with consultation on a revised Plan having closed on 10th September, although in the author’s view, no alterations of any consequence to the original Plan have been put forward.
Three new Neighbourhood Plans have been approved in 2019, all on the same day; Ticehurst, Rye and Crowhurst – though Rye’s was its twelfth published version, which demonstrates the sheer hard work and continuous effort needed to get past the Referendum finishing post.
The most significant planning application in 2019 has been for the development of 169 houses on the outer edge of Bexhill at Spindlewood Drive. It is immediately adjacent to the Ramsar site of Pevensey Levels, whose environmental classification is of international calibre of wetlands.
In typical old-style Rother decision-making process, the Planning Committee felt unable to make a decision, and referred to Full Council, who were even less competent to exercise judgement on the complex environmental issues raised by the application; so they passed it back to the Planning Committee, on whose agenda it now sits. It could in the end be a test case, involving intricacies of planning law decided by the European Court of Justice.
A plea in the end; if there are any volunteers who are willing to share the effort of monitoring and commenting on planning applications and other related planning matters, your help would be most welcome. Please get in touch with Stephen Hardy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Ticehurst © Susanne