A Sussex neighbourhood plan falls at examination hurdle after non compliance with relevant EU obligations

Out-Law News | 27 Jan 2014 | 3:31 pm |

The Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) carried out on the Parish Neighbourhood Plan for Slaugham in Mid Sussex did not comply with the relevant European Union obligations, an examiner has found.

Examiner Ann Skippers said that the neighbourhood plan should not be taken forward to the local referendum stage, which would ordinarily follow examination.

"I have come to the conclusion that substantial compliance with the requirements of the Directive 2001/42/EC has not been demonstrated and therefore the Plan does not meet this basic condition," Skippers wrote in her report.  "I appreciate that Slaugham Parish Council and others involved in the production of the neighbourhood plan will be disappointed by this. It is often the case that those pioneering a new power such as the development of a neighbourhood plan can run into buffers... whilst it might be of little initial comfort, I am convinced that the work carried out by the parish council and the community will not be wasted as a result of this set back."

The examiner also found that whilst the neighbourhood plan did recognise the need for new housing development, the targets set in the plan were not based on sufficiently robust evidence.

Skippers said that the two Community Right to Build Orders submitted by the same parish Council concurrently with the neighbourhood plan should also not proceed to a referendum. The examiner stated that the two Community Right to Build Orders were the first in England to reach examination.