Residents from all parts of Uckfield are preparing to help shape the town’s future.
They are coming together to form a steering committee which will bring forward a Neighbourhood Plan for residents to vote on in a referendum.
An initial meeting at The Civic Centre saw people from Manor Park/Hempstead Fields, the conservation area, Church Coombe, Ridgewood, the Farriers Way area, Newtown, Fernley Park and other communities meet for the first time.
Uckfield Town Council has paved the way for the establishment of the group and Cllr Helen Firth chaired the inaugural meeting.
Alison Eardley, policy manager for Towns Alive (formerly Action for Market Towns), explained the process of establishing a Neighbourhood Plan which, when complete, has legal weight when the district council determines planning applications.
She said it would enable the community to have a direct say in the planning system.
“It will set out in terms of planning what people want to see in Uckfield in terms of planning,” she said.
‘Shaping development – not stopping it’
The process was community-led and controlled by the community.
It was important, she said, that people understood a Neighbourhood Plan was about shaping future development, not stopping it. It cannot override Wealden District Council’s core strategy local plan, which has established, for example, the principle of building 1,000 homes at Ridgewood Farm.
A number of stages are necessary to produce a Neighbourhood Plan including:
Community Engagement which leads to
Formal Consultation which leads to the writing of an
Initial Draft which is followed by
Evidence Collection and then a
Second Draft. This document is then
Submitted for Examination. At the end of this process there is a
Referendum for residents to vote on whether they approve or not.
Consultations with Uckfield people about the Neighbourhood Plan will be running, at least for part of the time, alongside a separate consultation being staged by the developer of the 1,000 homes at Ridgewood Farm. See stories here and here.
It has been a busy week on the future of Uckfield