KIRDFORD villagers are celebrating after their parish council’s neighbourhood plan became the first to pass examination in West Sussex.
The only one so far completed which covers two planning authorities, it is also one of the first ten in the country and the most comprehensive yet written by any community.
Janet Cheesley published her examination report at the weekend, with some recommendations designed to ensure the plan was robust.
“I consider the Kirdford plan will provide a strong practical framework against which decisions on development can be made,” she said.
She also commented on the consultation undertaken in preparing the plan.
“It went well beyond the requirements and I applaud the efforts of the parish council and the steering group.”
The comprehensive consultations carried out should, she said, reassure everyone that the plan reflected the aspirations of everyone in the parish and addressed the views of all stakeholders.
Kirdford parish councillors say they will now seek to work in partnership with Chichester District Council and the South Downs National Park – the two local planning authorities which cover its boundaries – to agree the recommended changes and finalise the plan ready for it to proceed to the next stage of the process, a referendum in the parish.
Having worked with the parish council and residents for over two years on preparing the plan, Josef Ransley, chairman of the parish council steering group, said: “This is a milestone event in the parish, if residents vote in favour of the plan in the referendum, the parish council will have delivered a plan that will guide conservation and development in the parish for the next 15 years.”
Tony Broom, parish council chairman, added: “The plan sets out a range of community projects for the council to deliver over the next few years. These seek to improve facilities in the village and parish for the benefit of all.”
Councillor Ian Campbell, who has sought to have WSCC maintain roads and improve drainage, said: “If WSCC had responded to our efforts to work with them, we could have prevented some of the recent flooding, the plan provides policies that give us some opportunity to manage these matters ourselves in the future.”
Fellow councillors Susan Pinder said she was pleased the plan ‘delivers policies that support improving footpaths’ and Kate Fenney said she was hopeful ‘the information gathered will inform future school provision for our children’.