NEARLY half of Kirdford villagers turned out to vote on their neighbourhood plan which will shape their future for the next 15 years and they gave it overwhelming support.
Among the highest turnout so far in the country for a neighbourhood plan referendum (44 per cent), 95 per cent voted ‘yes’.
The plan is one of the most comprehensive developed so far, addressing housing, economic growth, conservation and general social well being.
Independent examiner Janet Cheesley reported: “It went well beyond the consultation requirements and I applaud the efforts of the parish council and steering group.”
But it was dogged by the complexities of the parish coming under two planning authorities – Chichester District Council and the South Downs National Park Authority, neither of which had an up-to-date local plan.
“The extra complexity this introduced was resolved with the help of Alex Monroe of Maroon Planning and the input and support from Planning Aid England (PAE), who were invaluable in helping us complete our basic conditions statement,” said Josef Ransley, chairman of the Kirdford Parish Neighbourhood Development Plan steering group.
“Being a frontrunner meant we were subject to a lot of challenges and frustrations, especially dealing with one of our LPAs, but it also provided us with some tremendous support from groups such as PAE without which we may not have lasted the course.
He added: “Located in one of the country’s finest lowland landscapes, which is also one of the most wooded, the steering group decided to invest in a detailed sustainability appraisal.
Prepared with the help of Dr. Dominic Tantram of Terrafiniti LLP, it provided an extensive evidence base to support its proposals and underpin its policies.”
Ms Cheesley said: “I consider the KPDNP will provide a strong practical framework against which decisions can be made.”
It will now go forward for adoption by the two planning authorities and an action plan will be examined by Kirdford villagers.