It provides for housing growth at 400 units per year, a figure which balances the need for growth with the capacity of the District to accommodate that growth. This is a rate that is in keeping with growth for the past 21 years.
"By 2030, Wealden will have successfully accommodated growth to meet future need while protecting and enhancing the essential rural character and high quality of our countryside as a resource for recreation and tourism," said Councillor Roy Galley, Cabinet member for Planning and Development at Wealden District Council.
"Our market towns will have regenerated to provide opportunities for residents to access suitable housing, local jobs, services, facilities and recreational opportunities. A number of our villages will have enhanced their sustainability through successfully accommodating growth including the provision of more affordable housing.
"It is a vision and our aspiration for our future. It will need a lot of hard work, including working closely with other partners and agencies, to make sure the necessary infrastructure is put in place."
"Through this Core Strategy we make sure that planning and development control is not handed over to property developers but remains in the hands of our communities and their elected representatives."
The key points of the Core Strategy, part of Wealden's Local Development Framework, are:
- Housing growth in the District limited to 400 homes a year on average until 2030.
- A tougher policy on securing the necessary new infrastructure to support growth by requiring the release of development land to be conditional on the necessary infrastructure being provided.
- The developer contribution towards affordable housing increased to 35% on new developments of 5 houses or more (the previous Non-Statutory plan set contributions at 30% for developments and thresholds of 10 houses or more).
- Development boundaries to be removed from 25 smaller settlements and this will limit growth in the countryside. However we will be consulting on new policies about where limited growth may be allowed in rural areas.
- Small scale affordable housing to be allowed in exceptional circumstances in rural areas outside development boundaries to meet identified local housing need.
Councillor Galley said the Council had consulted widely on the Core Strategy and listened to local views and had now produced a balanced strategy. However, it would never be able to match everybody's aspirations.
"The big issue will be making sure we get the infrastructure. I am sure we still have a lot of fighting to do to ensure that happens."
The Core Strategy, and its accompanying Sustainability Appraisal, will be published on the Wealden website early in the new year. Copies will also be available to read, together with a number of key backgound papers at Wealden District Council's offices in Crowborough and Hailsham and at 18 other locations throughout the District including libraries and parish council offices.
The Council's anticipated timetable for progressing the Core Strategy through to its next stage will mean that from the end of February next year, members of the public and organisations will be able to make their own representations to Government and on to an independent Planning Inspector as to the soundness of the Wealden Core Strategy. The Council will provide further publicity and information as to the start of this period for making formal representations on the document.
An Examination in Public of the strategy, by the Inspector, will then be held for several weeks during the summer. Members of the pubic who have made representations will be able to speak at the Examination in Public. Once the Planning Inspector is satisfied that the Core Strategy is sound, it will it be for the Council to adopt it as a legal planning document.