Community Involvement in Whole Estate Plans
How does this fit with the Local Plan?
Whole Estate Plans are identified in Draft Local Plan Policy SD22, as a way to frame and support appropriate diversification within estates and large farms. Plans must focus on conservation and enhancement of the landscape and delivery of multiple benefits in line with the purposes, duty and special qualities of the National Park.
Whole Estate Plans are not statutory planning documents. Organisations are not required to produce them, and the planning system does not regulate their content or format. South Downs National Park Authority will not formally adopt Whole Estate Plans. The National Park Authority recommends that organisations who have significant landholdings produce Whole Estate Plans to increase transparency and identify mutually beneficial ways to enhance the National Park.
In order to support to these organisations, they may present their plan to the National Park Authority for endorsement. This would only be given to plans which were felt to actively support the purposes, duty and special qualities of the National Park. Endorsement would not mean that any project within it would automatically be acceptable. For instance applications would still need to be made for planning consent with accompanying public consultation even if a project with identified in an endorsed Whole Estate Plan. However an endorsed Plan would have some material weight.
What involvement can the community have?
As a Whole Estate Plan is not an adopted planning document it does not have a requirement for formal public consultation. However within guidance currently being prepared by South Downs National Park Authority for organisations wishing to prepare a Whole Estate Plan, it is recommended that significant positive opportunities exist if organisations actively engage with communities who live, work and spend their leisure time within their land holdings.
The National Park Authority advocates that organisations seek to include communities in active engagement through activities such as open days, active workshops, and questionnaires. It is hoped that by adopting this approach local communities will both be kept informed of the aspirations and issues faced by landowners, and also proactively contribute to assisting them in developing their Whole Estate Plan by contributing information and ideas.