A PANEL of experts reassured more than 200 residents that their local neighbourhood plan will be a benefit to the community but will need their involvement.
The parishes of Steyning, Wiston, Ashurst and Bramber have joined together to form the largest cluster group in the south for its neighbourhood plan.
Led by Rowena Tyler, community development officer at action in rural Sussex and Nick Mills, chairman of the plan’s steering group, the small panel made a presentation and answered questions at the Steyning Centre on Saturday.
A neighbourhood plan was launched by the government to help the local community specify where they would like to see developments take place in their towns and villages.
A resident from the audience asked if the local authority can override a plan once it is in place.
Rowena said: “If Horsham District Council feel it’s not credible, they won’t accept it. Once it’s gone through examination and a referendum it has legal force for the lifetime of the plan.”
A number of residents were confused by what a neighbourhood plan really means and if it is just about future developments.
Nick said that the plan is mostly about the designation of buildings, but it can also be a way to see whether a community is in need of other communal facilities, like a playing field.
Currently, the steering group - which will cover a number of factors like transport, environment and heritage - is seeking members of the four communities to volunteer their time and help build a plan that reflects residents’ vision of the town and villages.
Nick added: “We can make sure the meetings take place at times where more people can come. Then we’re hoping to submit a finished plan by the end of next year.”
After the meeting, Rowena said: “Some people think it’s to stop developments altogether, it’s not. They seem to be much clearer on it. This is a great way for local people to get involved.”
If you are interested in joining the steering group and helping develop the Neighbourhood Plan, there are still vacancies. Contact Steyning Parish Council on 01903 812042 to volunteer.