The long-awaited Local Plan, which will guide development in the South Downs National Park for the next 25 years, has finally been submitted to the government for inspection.
The plan has been in the pipeline since shortly after the park was full established in April 2011.
A staffing crisis in the planning department in 2016 caused a major delay in the work on the plan.
It was timetabled to be adopted in 2017 but the staffing shortage set back the work by almost a year.
It was then timetabled to be submitted to the secretary of state for examination by the end of March this year.
But this date appears to have slipped by around a month.
However, it has now been submitted to the government alongside all of the evidence used in its preparation and more than 2,500 comments received in the pre-submission consultation last year, which is now available to view at www.southdowns.gov.uk/localplan
Chairman of the park authority Margaret Paren said: “The South Downs Local Plan puts our nationally important landscapes first and will ensure they sit at the heart of every planning decision we make. Putting the landscape first means making sure we get the right growth in the right places. This will both protect our landscapes and allow our communities to flourish, providing better places to live and work for the 112,000 people who call the South Downs National Park home.”
The plan includes around 50 Neighbourhood Plans developed by communities, and provides local development management policies allocating land for development.
When adopted, it will replace the over 1,000 different policies from 12 different local authorities currently in place.
The next step will be the appointment of an inspector to examine the plan. Public hearings, expected to be held at the South Downs Centre in Midhurst, will be held at a date to be confirmed.