Landscape and the needs of local communities are central to the new South Downs National Park Local Plan which has now been formally adopted.
The Plan covers the entire National Park for the next 14 years with the policies designed to preserve the nationally-designated landscape while creating new homes, work space and enhancing the natural environment.
The Plan sets out measures to mitigate climate change including that any major new developments should seek to be carbon neutral, have better drainage schemes to reduce flood risk and limit water consumption for new developments.
Margaret Paren, Chair of South Downs National Park Authority, said: “This is a significant moment for the South Downs National Park and our local communities.
“Our adopted Local Plan puts our nationally important landscapes first and ensures that they sit at the heart of every planning decision we make. But, while our first priority is to conserve and enhance the landscape, this Local Plan goes one step further by clearly outlining how we will nurture a living, thriving landscape that benefits local people and looks to increase resilience to climate change.
“The Local Plan includes over 50 Neighbourhood Plans developed by South Downs’ communities which provide local development management policies and allocate land for development. We are grateful to all those who spent so much time assisting us in developing the Local Plan.
“The exciting plan also sets out the high standards that all proposed development must meet to protect nature and the vital ‘ecosystem’ services it gives us such as clean water, food and space to breathe.”
The Plan replaces more than 1,000 overlapping policies that were in existence across the area of the National Park with 92 clear policies covering all aspects of planning.
It follows extensive public consultation with local communities and detailed scrutiny and examination by the Government’s Planning Inspectorate, which found the policies to be sound subject to a number of modifications.
The Local Plan has been informed by a range of factors, including the geography and geology, biodiversity and heritage sites of the National Park, Neighbourhood Plans, local economic needs and the impact of climate change.
Key highlights of the Local Plan include:
- Services provided by the environment such as clean water and air, dark night skies and tranquility provided by the National Park.
- As evidenced by feedback from local communities, growth is dispersed across the towns and villages of the National Park, rather than just allowing growth around the largest settlements such as Lewes and Petersfield.
- This is provision of 250 dwellings per year across the National Park.
- High goals for affordable housing – the bar is set at 50 per cent on sites of 11 or more new homes will have to be affordable.
- Conservation of internationally-important landscapes such as Woolmer Forest and the Sussex Heritage Coast, for example.
- Provision of 10.3ha of employment land to create jobs and support the rural economy.
- Conservation and enhancement of “green corridors” to link up habitats and support wildlife, as well as promoting the planting of new trees and hedges.
- Adoption of strategic sites that represent one-off opportunities for developments of exceptional quality – Shoreham Cement Works and North Street Quarter, Lewes.
To see the full Local Plan, visit www.southdowns.gov.uk/SDLocalPlan