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South Downs Local Plan: Preferred Options Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions About the Local Plan

What is the South Downs Local Plan?

The National Park needs properly managed development that conserves and enhances the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage for which it was designated. The Local Plan is a set of policies which will be used to make decisions on planning applications in the National Park.

How does this Local Plan relate to other existing local plans and joint core strategies?

When it is adopted (expected to be in 2017) the South Downs Local Plan will replace all existing local plans and joint core strategies within the National Park area. These plans will continue to operate outside the National Park. The South Downs Partnership Management Plan will continue to operate across the National Park alongside the South Downs Local Plan.

The current draft of the Local Plan puts forward a single set of 80 planning policies to apply across the 1,600km2 of the National Park replacing around 1400 policies currently in operation across the area.

Will the Local Plan cover where I live?

The Local Plan will cover the whole of the South Downs National Park. Visit the interactive map on our website to find out if this includes where you live.

Why are you consulting on the Local Plan now?

This is the first time that we have published and sought views on a complete draft of the Local Plan.

This is the first Local Plan in the country to put the landscape first – our landscapes are the reason the South Downs became a National Park so it’s only right that they sit at the heart of every planning decision we make. We’ve set out what we think are the right policies are to make this happen up to the year 2032 and now we want to hear what other people – the organisations, communities and individuals who care about the future of the National Park – think.

Who is the Local Plan for?

The South Downs Local Plan is relevant for everyone who is interested in the National Park whether they are residents, visitors or do business here. Once it has been adopted, the Local Plan will be used by anyone applying for planning permission within the National Park.

When will the Local Plan come into force?

Before it can come into force (also called being adopted) the Local Plan will be subject to an Examination in Public and the plan being found ‘sound’ by an Inspector. We expect this to happen in 2017.

What happens after the consultation?

Once the consultation has closed we will look at all comments together with any new evidence and take them into account to make appropriate changes to the Local Plan. In autumn 2016 we will consult on the ‘Publication’ version of the Local Plan before it is submitted for examination. If the plan is found ‘sound ‘at examination the National Park Authority will then adopt it. We anticipate this will be in 2017.

Will the Preferred Options version of the Local Plan be taken into account in planning decision now?

Yes but it will be given modest ‘weight’ in decisions in comparison to existing adopted local plans and joint core strategies.

What time period does the Local Plan cover?

The Local Plan covers the time period 2014 to 2032. It starts in 2014 when the Issues and Options consultation was published. The plan will be in place for 15 years after its adoption which is scheduled for 2017.

What happens if the Government changes the law on development and local plans?

As with existing local plans in other parts of the country, we will monitor changes in law and follow any new legislation as appropriate.

Does the Local Plan cover minerals and waste?

This Local Plan does not include policies on minerals and waste. These are contained in minerals and waste plans being prepared jointly with our neighbouring authorities. For further information please visit the Minerals & Waste section of our website.

What if our community has, or is, preparing a Neighbourhood Development Plan?

There are 47 neighbourhood development plans being prepared in the National Park by local communities as of July 2015. All the policies in these neighbourhood development plans need to conform with Core and Strategic policies in the Local Plan (these can be found in Chapters 4 – 7). Neighbourhood development plans can allocate sites for development and include detailed policies on subjects important to local people.

What is the SHLAA and how is it connected to the Local Plan?

The Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) is one of many pieces of evidence that supports the Local Plan. The SHLAA identifies sites across the National Park and considers whether they may be suitable for housing. Just because a site is identified in the SHLAA does not mean it will be allocated for housing in the Local Plan or granted planning permission for housing. All new sites for housing submitted will be considered through the SHLAA process by the National Park Authority. More information on this process can be found on the SHLAA page of our website.

What did you do with people’s comments from the Local Plan Options consultation in 2014?

In Feb 2014 we asked people to comment on different options for tackling 55 key issues in the National Park. We received 159 responses with a total of 5300 comments. We took all these comments into account in writing the Preferred Options version alongside evidence-based studies on a wide range of subjects such as landscape the historic environment and local housing need as well as requirements of Government policy and legislation.

What are the Sustainability Appraisal (SA) and the Habitat Regulations Assessment (HRA)?

The Sustainability Appraisal (SA) is a process carried out during the development of the Local Plan to assess the impact of proposed policies both individually or in combination against a set of desired sustainability objectives.

The Habitat Regulations Assessment (HRA) is used to identify whether any aspects of the Local Plan proposed polices both individually or in combination would have a negative effect on specific, designated sites. These “European Sites” include Ramsar sites, Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas.

The SA and HRA are two important pieces of evidence that support the Local Plan and we have published them for consultation at the same time. There are specific questions on them in the questionnaire.

Can I submit sites for consideration?

Yes, you can submit sites that you think might be suitable for new development. We are specifically seeking sites for new housing or for gypsies and travellers. You can also tell us about local green areas that you think are very special to the local community and should be designated as local green spaces. We will assess these sites in the following documents:

  • The Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA)
  • Local Green Space Assessment
  • Gypsy, Traveller and Travelling Showpeople Sites Assessment


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