Draft Local Plan published tomorrow

Draft Local Plan published tomorrow

The Draft Local Plan will be published tomorrow evening and will be online at for everyone to read. The Council will also be publishing fact sheets for every ward, which will include maps, sites for new homes, employment and infrastructure improvements to help make the information in the plan easy to access.

The document is being published earlier than is statutorily required because the Council recognises the significance and complexity of the document and wants to give councillors, residents, stakeholders and businesses the opportunity to have enough time to read it before the Planning Policy Committee on 3 July, where a decision will be taken about whether to approve the Plan for Regulation 19 consultation. If it is approved, dates will be agreed for a Regulation 19 consultation scheduled to take place between 16 July and 28 August and at Regulation 20 representations will be considered - the final step before any amendments are made and the plan is presented to a government planning inspector.

The Draft Local Plan has taken over three years to prepare and there have been three consultations so far to help shape it. As a result of feedback, some significant changes have been made including changing the plan and its vision, giving greater consideration to farming, agriculture and the rural economy in the district and widening plans for employment creation.

As a result of the earlier consultation, the Council set out a preferred strategy for a Garden Community which will be located in South Godstone. As well as delivering around 4,000 homes over the long term, it will also deliver significant new infrastructure for the district including new primary schools, a secondary school, a health hub, rail and road improvements, play pitches, flood mitigation and employment sites.

The district is around 94% Green Belt and this cohesive strategy will mean releasing a small amount of Green Belt, to put the Council in a better position to protect the rest. The district is still likely to remain in the top three districts with the highest proportion of Green Belt when the plan is adopted.

The total number of new homes this district can accommodate is likely to be around 6,100, which is significantly beneath the current need of 9,400 homes or the government’s calculation of 12,900. The Council is confident it can demonstrate through rigorous evidence gathering and detailed preparation this is the realistic number of homes this district can accommodate when the Local Plan is examined at inspection.

Councillor Keith Jecks, Chair of the Planning Policy Committee, said: “This Plan is not just about delivering new homes. It is about building a vibrant economy and strong future for our district which is currently facing significant challenges. We have an ageing population, which is not helped by the fact young people or key workers cannot afford to live here and there are not enough apartments, affordable homes or council homes available.

We have a creaking infrastructure and a new garden community will deliver the new schools, health facilities, road and rail improvements we need. We also need to create more local, higher skilled jobs and the Local Plan will create thousands of new employment opportunities. This Local Plan is about giving everyone who lives here the opportunity to live in an affordable, vibrant area, with a strong economy and we would encourage everyone to look at the documents when they are published to find out more.”


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