Why is the District Plan important?
The Mid Sussex District Plan [DP] will set the main planning policies for development in Mid Sussex for the next 20 years
The new DP will replace the 2004 Mid Sussex Local Plan [MSLP].
The draft District Plan adopts the 'Presumption in Favour of Sustainable Development' that runs as a golden thread through the new government planning guidance - the National Planning Policy Framework or NPPF.
The Presumption in Favour of Sustainable Development means that unless there is a local policy restricting development then MSDC, as the planning authority, must allow the application. Any such policy must be supported by robust evidence.
Draft District Plan silent on Major Constraints at EG
In the case of East Grinstead major constraints have been long-established. The draft District Plan removes the protections from excessive development for EG and the surrounding villages, contained in the current Local Plan. It also removes the Strategic Gaps and weakens the protections of the AONB and Ashdown Forest.
The draft District Plan doesn't propose improvements to the road system in East Grinstead to mitigate congestion or offer any funding and does not keep traffic issues as a constraint on development.
It proposes almost no new jobs at East Grinstead (and no new employment space) so most new residents must be expected to drive to Crawley/Gatwick to find work.
The recently made East Grinstead Neighbourhood Plan does recognise the major constraints at EG and sets out a sustainable level of development for the town. However, the Inspector looking at the draft District Plan has concluded that Mid Sussex must accomodate 3,850 homes in addition to those already provided for in the draft DP and the various Neighbourhood Plans.
Unsatisfactory Gap in MSDC's Evidence
Policy DP6:Settlement Hierarchy does not relfect the evidence of constraints at EG and Policy DP15:Ashdown Forest Special Protection Area - SPA and Special Area of Conservation - SAC (and the Habitats Regulations Assessment [HRA] this relies on) do not properly assess the risks of traffic congestion or to Ashdown Forest of development at EG or propose adequate mitigation.
The Inspector has recognised the large gaps in the MSDC evidence, and ways of filling them are to be discussed at the Examination on 3rd March 2017.
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