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Ask the Leader

The Leader of Wealden District Council is Councillor Bob Standley. He will be pleased to answer any question you may have about Wealden District Council's policies, or other matters involving the Council, which you think are of interest to people living, working or visiting Wealden.

To ask your question, please use our or Ask the Leader - Submit a Question Form

Councillor Standley is the Conservative Leader of the Cabinet of Wealden District Council and has represented Wadhurst since 2004.

Specific inquiries about particular services such as planning applications, licensing or accommodation can be reported online. Please use our 'directory of tasks on online services' to find the appropriate form. You can also email info@wealden.gov.uk.

We will try to respond within ten working days of receiving your question and your question and the Leader's reply will then be posted on the website. Please provide your name, we don't need your address. If we think the question is inappropriate for publication we will contact you by email to say why.

For information on any of the Ask The Leader questions listed please contact our Communications Officer on pr@wealden.gov.uk.

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The latest Ask the Leader questions and answers are shown below. To view more questions and answers, use the search above, or the 'In this Section' menu.

Strategic Sites Local Plan

Question

Hello Cllr Standley, Could you please advise whether the outcome of the Strategic Sites Local Plan Examination is that we now do not have a Local Plan as referred to here and would this mean in effect that anyone can build whatever they like wherever they like, as long as they comply with Building Regulations?:- http://planningguidance.planningportal.gov.uk/blog/guidance/local-plans/local-plans-key-issues/ “… Local Plans set out a vision and a framework for the future development of the area, addressing needs and opportunities in relation to housing, the economy, community facilities and infrastructure – as well as a basis for safeguarding the environment, adapting to climate change and securing good design. They are also a critical tool in guiding decisions about individual development proposals, as Local Plans (together with any neighbourhood plans that have been made) are the starting-point for considering whether applications can be approved. …” Many thanks, R S Latter

Answer

Dear Mr Latter, Thank-you for raising this matter. Although Wealden District Council has now withdrawn its Strategic Site Local Plan, we do still have an adopted Core Strategy Local Plan in place. This is the governing strategic document in the District. The policies set out in this document still stand and will be used by our own planning department and , if called on, the independent Planning Inspectors when dealing with all planning matters. It does not mean any one can build whatever they like wherever they like. This Council has gone to some length, including successfully defending our Core Strategy Local Plan in the High Court and Court of Appeal to ensure we have a cohesive strategy in place which can manage new development in an acceptable way. As part of the Local Plan process, we are currently beginning a review of our Local Plan including the Core Strategy. We will not know the outcome of the Review until 2017/2018. In the meantime, our existing Core Strategy Local Plan remains unchanged. It can be found on our website here http://www.wealden.gov.uk/Wealden/Residents/Planning_and_Building_Control/Planning_Policy/CoreStrategy/Planning_Core_Strategy_Local_Plan.aspx. Regards Bob Standley

Wadhurst Commemoration Hall

Question

Dear Bob, I live in Wadhurst, and as you'll be aware people are very worried about plans they believe are being explored to knock down the Commemoration Hall as part of a redevelopment plan. I understand that you visited the site this week. It would be really good to address people's fears about this by issuing a formal statement, but in the meantime could you confirm whether or not: 1. You would support a community asset approach for key sites in the village such as the Commemoration Hall, Methodist Hall and recreation ground should the organisations currently holding them wish to sell? 2. That you will undertake a full community engagement process around the development strategy for the village? This would go a long way to starting a real dialogue with people who live there. Best wishes, Laura

Answer

Dear Laura Bayford As a Wadhurst resident I am course familiar with the Commemoration Hall and visit it often although I did not visit last week. However there are a number of unfounded rumours going round the village including that the Parish Council is planning to knock down the Hall for housing. The site is owned by a charity, Hall and Field, and that charity is working with the Parish Council as to what the community need in terms of community facilities for the next 50-100 years. There has been some initial consultation and the matter has been raised at the Annual Parish meeting in 2014 and in May this year. Any formal statement should come from the Hall and Filed Trust as owners perhaps with addition information form the Parish Council. In my role as Leader of the District Council it is not for me to make statements about land and buildings for which the District Council has no responsibility. I do believe that it is right that the Parish Council and Hall and Field need to look at the needs of the community and decide, after consultation, whether a new Commemoration Hall is required. I am keenly aware that the hall was built to commemorate those who died serving the country and any new hall would need to ensure that their sacrifice continues to be acknowledged. The site also occupies a key site in the village and any changes would need to be careful though through to ensure there is a benefit to the local community. With regard to the particular assets you mention as I say the Commemoration Hall and the Field behind is owned by a charity that operates for the benefit of the community. The recreation ground at Sparrows green is owned by the Parish Council. Whilst the plans by the Methodist Church with regard to the disposal of their building is not yet certain, at this stage I would not be in favour of the Parish Council buying the building given the number of venues available for meetings in the village. However it is possible for those assets to be registered to be part of the Community Asset Register. (http://www.wealden.gov.uk/Wealden/Council/Localism/Policy_Community_Right_To_Bid.aspx The Community Right to Bid allows for a 6 month moratorium on the sale of any registered community sites to give time for community organisations to raise the necessary funds. Finally I would add that Wealden District Council Core Strategy Local Plan process was and continues to be an open and transparent process which has had a number of public consultations before the Core Strategy Local Plan was approved. The Parish Council, of which I am also a member, also continue to be part of that process. The next stage of the Local Plan process which amongst other matters involves the village sites across Wealden will be published in the Autumn. I trust the above gives you the information you require and should you require more information please contact me further. Regards Bob Standley




For information on any of the Ask The Leader questions listed please contact our Communications Officer on pr@wealden.gov.uk.

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