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Questions and Answers

Q: What is a  neighbourhood plan?

A: A neighbourhood plan puts in place planning policy for a neighbourhood area to guide future development. A neighbourhood plan is about the use and development of land and may contain a vision, aims, planning policies, proposals for improving the area or providing new facilities, or allocation of key sites for specific kinds of development. It may deal with a wide range of social, economic and environmental issues (such as housing, employment, design, heritage and transport) or it may focus on one or two issues only. 

Q: What conditions does a neighbourhood plan have to meet?

A: All neighbourhood plans must meet the ‘basic conditions’ set out in planning law. This will be tested through an independent examination. The basic conditions for neighbourhood plans are that they must: 

  • have regard to national policy; 

  • contribute to the achievement of sustainable development; 

  • be in general conformity with the strategic policies in the development plan for the local area; and 

  • be compatible with EU obligations. 

Q: Can a neighbourhood plan stop development?

A: No a neighbourhood plan can guide development to be more appropriate to local context and help decide where it goes within the area a neighbourhood plan cannot stop development and government has made it clear that it is not a tool for residents to pose proposals for new developments close to them.

Q: What is the process for making a plan?

A: The process is :

  • Developing vision and key issues

  • Outline policies based on vision and objectives

  • Presubmission consultation on the draft plan-consult for at least six weeks

  • Submission of the plan-consultation for at least six weeks

  • Independent examination

  • Referendum

  • Neighbourhood plan made (adopted)

Q: Does a neighbourhood plan have the same legal status as the local plan?

A: A neighbourhood plan attains the same legal status as a local plan (and other documents that form part of the statutory development plan) once it has been approved at a referendum. At this point it comes into force as part of the statutory development plan. Applications for planning permission must be determined in accordance with the development plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise.


Q: How should a housing requirement figure be set for designated neighbourhood areas?

A: The National Planning Policy Framework expects most strategic policy-making authorities to set housing requirement figures for designated neighbourhood areas as part of their strategic policies.


Q What figure is being tested for West Chiltington?


A: The Draft Horsham District Local Plan 2019-2036 proposes a number of small sites to contribute towards its overall housing numbers. Two sites have been identified to deliver a total of 25 units sites SA429 – Land West of Smock Alley and SA066 – Land at Hatches Estate.

The full document can be viewed on the HDC website at 


Q: Has HDC confirmed the additional properties to be built at Rambledown House, which are now possibly 10 will come off the housing quota in the draft Local Plan of 25? If not, why not.

A: No – they consider that this would be ‘double-counting’.

Q: Where has it already been counted?

A: This question should be directed to HDC.

Q: Have the 2 new potential sites of Smock Alley and Hatches Estate been agreed by the PC to go forward to the 3rd version of the REG14 Draft Neighbourhood plan? 

A: No. At the Parish Council Meeting on 6th May 2021 the PC gave delegated authority to the AECOM Working Group to progress with the draft Plan in readiness for it to be submitted to Reg14. Once the AECOM group have completed their work the Plan will be brought back to the Parish Council to then enable the PC to adopt the draft pre-submission Neighbourhood Plan and to agree to publish it for consultation under Regulation 14.

Q: When do you think this will be?

A: As soon as all preliminary work is completed. We are working as quickly as we possibly can. The Plan is subject to Habitats Regulations Assessment and a Strategic Environmental Assessment and these will not be completed until the end of June.

Q: Will it be sent to HDC for a health check?

A: No. Its only significant change from its last Reg14 submission is the Housing Policy. HDC has already seen the rest of the Plan and commented upon it, and AECOM has also completed a Health Check.

Q: If these sites have been agreed by the full PC and not just by the AECOM working group which Councillors declared an interest and didn't vote? 

A: All interests were declared when going through the site selection process. The PC has not voted on the draft NP yet.

Q: I would like to know from the minutes of the working group who has declared an interest for the site selection tables and who worked on it?

A: The Working Group comprises the whole of the Parish Council’s Planning Committee: Cllrs Gustar, Jeffs, F. Davis, R. Davis, Fagan, Gibson, Winn-Taylor and Hodges. Cllrs R. Davis and Gibson only recently joined and were not involved in the site selection process. 

Cllrs F. Davis and Fagan declared that their homes are adjacent to some of the sites that were under consideration, but that they had no pecuniary interest in any site.

Q: Why does the AECOM working group’s 'Site Selection Tables' use the criteria to further assess for its 'Visual Impact, Traffic Impact, Sustainability, Heritage Impact, and its likely acceptance by Horsham District Council' when all these criteria are taken into account in the AECOM report?

A: The AECOM Report graded the sites Amber (and one Green) giving a potential 52 dwellings. The AECOM Working Group wished to further refine these assessments using its valuable local knowledge to attain the target set by HDC of 25 dwellings and avoid unnecessary development in the Parish.


Q: Where are the criteria for this table made by the working group?

A: The criteria are clearly laid out in the site selection tables.

Q: Why has the only Green site at Hatches House East selected to be built by AECOM been deemed by the PC working group to be the highest-scoring (20 points) and therefore to be the least favourable to build? What criteria and planning guidance was the PC working group using when coming to these conclusions? 

A: The Working Group used its knowledge of the site and its location, including the obvious problems that already exist along East Street due to the topography, the road and activity (both pedestrian and vehicular) around the school. Scores were allocated accordingly.


Q: Where can I see the working out for this and criteria used?

A: In the site selection tables. 

Q: How much did the AECOM report cost?

What is the cost so far of the Neighbourhood Plan paid to Process 2 Matters, and the agreed amount to go to REG14 for a third time?

A: The AECOM Report was secured through a Technical Grant from Locality, so the cost to the Parish was zero.

Fees paid to Process Matters 2 to date (since 2015/16) amount to £12,255. All these fees have been covered by NP Grants from Locality.

It is anticipated that further fees to go to Reg 14 will amount to approximately £5,500.

Q: Why is a 4-acre site at Furzefield, Crossways that came forward a year ago in the call for sites in the centre of the village and in the BUAB not at the top of the list? 

A: The Furzefield site was put forward through the call for sites for 4 to 6 dwellings, and the landowner (on submission during the Call for Sites) stated that they only wanted Affordable Housing to be developed there. On this basis, the Working Group considered it would not contribute enough to the 25 required dwellings and its deliverability for Affordable housing only was questionable.

Q: When was HDC made aware of this site from the PC?

A: When the PC published the AECOM report.

Q: Who decided that the Furzefield site only has a capacity for 5 dwellings?

A: AECOM and the site owner.

Q: If the Working group looked at the AECOM report it would see that the village still has a need for affordable or smaller housing. Why does group think this is questionable?

A: The Working Group does not consider affordable housing in itself to be questionable, but it does question the deliverability of a 5-dwelling development of solely affordable homes.

Q: Why has the proximity to a Grade 2 listed house Old Haglands been omitted from the heritage part of the site selection tables on Smock Alley?

A: Proximity to Old Haglands was considered. It was not considered close enough to be an influencing factor. Other sites have listed buildings in greater proximity and number.

Q: Why has Southmill House (Site 3) been quoted as having 'planning refused for multiple dwellings several times in the past' when the only application under this house is for surgery to 2 oak trees in 2011?

A: Southmill House had had numerous applications refused over a very long history of planning - See property history

Q: If the woods at Smock Alley are gifted to the PC (as indicated in the table) who will pay to maintain them?

A: If the PC was to accept any such gift, then it would also take on the responsibility and cost of maintaining them.

Q: Is the PC aware that the PC previously said they didn't want the upkeep or cost of the woods?

A: The current PC may have a differing opinion. It has not considered this yet but will do so should the need arise.

Q: How does the PC feel this site will now be acceptable in the new version of the NP at consultation and ultimately get voted in by the Parishioners through the NP process?

A: When the NP goes out to consultation under Reg 14 and then again under Reg 15, all parishioners will have the opportunity to express their thoughts on the proposals therein. The PC will then fulfil its obligations to listen and respond accordingly.

Q: Are all the PC's aware that in order for the NP to be made it needs to be voted in by the majority of Parishioners?

A: The Parish Councillors are aware of the rules for making a Neighbourhood Plan; ultimately it needs to be supported by a majority of parishioners who vote.

Q: Following the consultation and meeting with HDC where are the notes or documentation from this meeting clarifying the predetermination of sites coming forward in the future as above? Has the Planning Expectorate agreed to this as well?

A: The meetings with HDC were informal and conducted under advice from AECOM. There was and will be no predetermination from either party. The discussions were intended for each party to gain clarity of the other’s position re: progress of NP and Local Plan, respectively. The Planning Inspectorate was certainly not included in any discussions.

Q: From our conversation at the [Parishioners] meeting the chairman made it very clear that the PC is being pressurised by HDC to include Smock Alley. How can HDC justify this when they have used tax-payers money to defend the site from developers at appeal, not once but twice?

A: HDC has not pressurised the Parish Council. It has simply stated very clearly that a Neighbourhood Plan for the Parish will not be acceptable without a housing allocation for at least 25 dwellings over the period of the plan. HDC has included the Smock Alley site in its Draft Local Plan as one that could contribute to West Chiltington’s housing number and is suitable for development. The Working Group’s site assessment and selection process concluded that Smock Alley is indeed one of the least damaging options available in the village to contribute to its housing requirement. Both Councils have therefore reached the same conclusions.

Whether the Parish Council includes Smock Alley in its Neighbourhood Plan or not, it is clear that the site WILL be developed. Although HDC has refused the site twice, it is now happy with the reduced density of dwellings and will give permission for houses to be built there. Inclusion of the site in our Neighbourhood Plan is the Parish’s only opportunity to try to manage and control the nature and extent of that development; attempting to keep it to 14 dwellings only and ensuring the promised landscaping etc is also completed.

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