Yesterday we travelled to Midhurst, to make our presentations to the Board. We were joined by Janet Aidin, of the Wiggonholt Association, who added her expert views to ours and you can view our presentations in previous posts (Janet, Chris, Jim). Jim also circulated some A3 photographs of the flower-filled meadow, and the views from Amberley and the South Downs Way. Anneke Lilley from Coldwaltham Parish Council also came along to offer some moral support.
First of all, a huge thank you to everyone who emailed and wrote letters to the SDNPA Board and Planning Dept; you really made an impact. Some of the Board members referred to the emails you sent and one of them asked what would happen if a site was withdrawn…
Lucy Howard, SDNPA Planning Policy Officer, announced that the Planning Dept had also received protest emails. You could tell by the way they reacted that this was a new experience for most of them. Alun Aylesbury, Deputy Chair of the Planning Committee, conceded that the housing allocation for the meadow was very late in “coming forward” and Tim Slaney, Head of Planning, expressed concern that of all the 38 sites in the emerging Local Plan, Coldwaltham was the only one that had a significant negative impact on the Landscape. Of course, we have been saying this for ages, but the recently completed Sustainability Assessment said so too, so they had to take note of it. We really thought that we had convinced them to pull Coldwaltham from the Local Plan, but, you’ve guessed it, at the last minute, they all decided to go ahead after all. I suppose we expected that, for after all, they had been working on the Local Plan for four years, so wouldn’t want to delay it.
However, they have promised us that in view of the last-minute nature of the Coldwaltham Allocation, they would consider our points very carefully when it comes to the next formal consultation period in September. The Head of the National Parks UK, Margaret Paren, was so concerned by all the emails, that she asked the Parish Council to circulate her response before the Board meeting. For what it’s worth, and I suggest you read it with Coldwaltham in mind. So we must regard what we have done so far as a dummy run, dust ourselves off and try again.
We think we have a very strong case that will ultimately convince the Examiner that SDNPA have acted unfairly and inconsistently in refusing us a Regulation 18 Consultation, and if we can do that, SDNPA will have to reconsider our case. But to do that, we will have to get help from a Planning Consultant, to ensure that we make the best possible presentation of our case.
So now we must form ourselves into a proper group, with elected officers, some sort of mission statement and probably a bank account etc. We have just given an interview to Sussex Radio, and have now got to step up the publicity. We have also got to explore ways of raising funds for a Planning Consultant. All ideas welcome! Someone has suggested that we use “crowd funding” for this, which sounds a useful way forward, but we really need to be on facebook for that…Help! I know some of you said you could, but will you? Now is the time… Maybe we need a Facebook sub-group or something?