Introduction and Background
A Neighbourhood Plan is a mechanism for helping communities, including residents and businesses, to influence the planning of the area in which they live and work.
All Parishes within the HDC area come under the Horsham District Planning Framework and 23 of them are already involved in the process giving 80% coverage. Parishes that do not have a robust Neighbourhood Plan may have their plans challenged and could have houses allocated to their area.
Government Policy is to build 300,000 new homes every year. Under current Horsham District Council Policy this equates to 1500 new homes to be built between 2011 and 2031 across the 24 Neighbourhood Plan areas. HDC expect a further 750 ‘windfall’ houses to be built.
The plan cannot come into existence unless it is approved by an External Examiner, HDC and finally passes a vote in a Parish-wide referendum where everyone can vote.
Without a plan we loose the ability to ensure that the houses built are right for Cowfold.
Areas that can be covered include:
- Developing a shared vision for the Parish
- Proposing where homes, shops, offices and other developments should be built.
- Influencing the location, type, design and density of new buildings.
- Aligning any developments with the local Infrastructure, such as Schools and Medical services.
- Road layout and traffic, proposing Pavements, footpaths and cycleways
- Protection and Enhancement of green spaces and amenities.
- Environmental aspects such as air quality, noise and cleanliness
- Employment and the local economic structure.
The Neighbourhood Plan will be based on the feedback from residents so that it reflects the needs of the Community and balances those with the needs of the District and County Councils.
Our policies cannot require external bodies, such as the County or District Councils, to carry out our aspirations for matters that fall under statutory operation (i.e. road calming). In such cases we can include aims in the Plan which set out the Parish Council’s support for local initiatives.
When will the plan be in place?
The whole process of preparing a Neighbourhood Plan typically takes two to three years. The Plan is built upon feedback from the community to ensure that it reflects the views, as far as possible, of those affected by it.
The Plan has to be in conformity with national planning guidance and the strategic policies of Horsham District Council. An independent Examiner, in due course, will examine the Plan to check it has fully met these requirements before recommending whether the Plan can proceed to Referendum.
Does this mean more development?
A new standard approach to calculating housing need has been proposed by Government. If implemented, this approach will set out housing requirements for Local Authorities and in turn those preparing Neighbourhood Plans. This could have implications for the number of houses that need to be planned for within the emerging Cowfold Neighbourhood Plan.
What has happened so far
Surveys of Residents’ Views and Detailed Questionnaire
Surveys were conducted at the Cowfold Village Fairs held in July 2016 and 2017. The results are summarised here.
These were used to design a more detailed questionnaire and to provide the basis for our draft Vision and Objectives. This combined document was distributed to every dwelling in the Parish in late October and early November 2017. The results are presented on this website here.
The results of the October 2017 questionnaire indicated that about 70% of respondents were in agreement with the draft Vision and Objectives. Where appropriate, the feedback received was used to update and finalise the Vision and the Objectives, which now form part of the Neighbourhood Plan. These are presented here.
Call for Sites
The Cowfold Neighbourhood Plan Working Group published its Call for Sites in the County Times in November 2017 and on the website here. The closing date for replies was 5 January 2018.
Exhibition of Sites
We had an amazing turnout at the Exhibition of Sites held in the Village Hall Reading Room on Friday 23 March, with over 200 visitors during the day. We were able to display a location map of each site along with a brief summary of the key characteristics; images of the exhibition material are available here.
Thank you very much to all those of you that helped us complete a feedback questionnaire with your reasons as to why individual sites are considered more or less suitable.
So many of you engaged constructively in helping us to find the best way forward for our community. This shows that we love our village.
This was held on Friday 13 July in the Village Hall and provided an opportunity for each proposer to promote their respective sites and a chance for residents to ask questions directly.
The meeting was time limited with strict control of presentation and question time to ensure that a fair opportunity was offered to all.
We are extremely grateful to the proposers for their efforts in preparing and delivering their detailed presentations. These are included here.
The meeting was very well attended and we were encouraged by the constructive nature of the Q and A sessions.
At the end of the meeting, attendees were invited to complete a feedback form and include any positive and negative comments on the different sites, as well as rank the sites in order of preference. An online version of this was also available.
Thank you to everyone who completed the survey, many by hand during our Exhibition in March and many on-line. We have had a total of 138 responses but we really could do with many more.
The 2011 census data together with the responses received so far suggest that Cowfold needs more parking spaces per dwelling than the County policies indicate and a separate survey was undertaken in 2018 to confirm this finding.
Public Exhibition of Selected Sites, 1 March 2019
Following the Public Meeting on 13 July 2018, we ended up with 9 sites being proposed by developers with sites CNP01 and CNP10 being amalgamated and Site CNP11 being withdrawn. There is a map here which shows their locations. A new proposal for site CNP04, with a substantial reduction in the housing number, has also been considered.
The Exhibition was held to give everyone the opportunity to see how each site compares against established criteria and HDC Policy. These criteria and the feedback from the Public Meeting, held in July 2018, were used to determine the most suitable sites.
The meeting also presented the total planned number of New Homes to be built in Cowfold, although the new ‘Standard’ method for determining the number per parish, which will be rolled out later this year, may increase this number.
The presentation material can be accessed here.
The Draft Neighbourhood Plan has been submitted to HDC and an independent outside body for a “Health Check”. Cowfold Parish Council took the feedback received into account in the production of the Plan prior to its approval on Monday 12thAugust.
The Pre-Submission Plan was out for Consultation from Monday 19thAugust 2019 to Monday 14thOctober 2019 in accordance with Regulation 14 of The Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012. This is a very important step forward in bringing the Cowfold Neighbourhood Plan to fruition.
The Public Consultation was repeated following an administration error whereby some statutory bodies did not receive a copy of the Pre-Submission plan; this consultation ran from Tuesday 12th November 2019 to Tuesday 24th December 2019.
Draft Submission Plan
The feedback received was reviewed and the plan amended where appropriate before the updated plan could be submitted to HDC under Regulation 16 of The Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012.
The Draft Plan was submitted on 31st January 2020; this, and the associated documentation can be viewed here.
The plan was out for consultation from 23rd March until the 25th May. The process is now the responsibility of HDC; an issue has arisen relating to a Heritage matter which is now under discussion between the relevant bodies. Until this has been resolved the plan cannot proceed to the next stage which is Examination by an Independent Public Examiner.