Proposals previously shared with residents were developed on the basis that
- Steep in Need and the SWMVC would jointly enter an agreement to sell the Steep in Need field and the rough grassland at the back of the SWMVC land to the preferred developer
- The developer would submit a planning application that met the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) requirements for the site – see pages 253-254 (Chapter9-Sites-Settlements.pdf (southdowns.gov.uk) , including a proportion of designated open space which would be transferred to the ownership of the SWMVC in due course.
Any development on the Church Road site must be in line with the allocation policy set by the SDNPA (Local Plan reference SD89). This includes a requirement for a proportion of the total area defined by the SDNPA in the Local Plan to be provided as public open space directly accessible from the village hall and car park.
The open space has frequently been referred to, including in the consultation undertaken in the autumn of 2020 by the Parish Council, as the ‘20% Open Space’. This is because the accompanying text about the allocation site in the South Downs Local Plan says that proposals should provide approximately 20% of the total area as informal public open space, recognising that the site (in practice the SWMVC land) has previously been earmarked for recreational use. However, this figure is not specified in the allocation policy and the policy takes precedence over the accompanying text.
The actual amount of open space will be determined through the planning process which is ‘landscape-led’, taking account of a range of factors including the lie of the land, natural features and ecological findings. There is no expectation that it would be less than 20% of the total area and might be more, depending on the planners’ assessment. It could, however, be less than 20% of the developed area if this is only part of the allocation site.
To the best of the trustees’ knowledge, if there is no agreement between the SWMVC and the developer and a planning application is submitted for the Steep in Need field alone, there would not be an automatic requirement for 20% of that area to be provided as open space. We do not, and cannot at this stage, know what the actual amount of open space would be in those circumstances.
The SWMVC land represents 15% of the allocation site, so the designated open space will certainly be greater than this area. Once development is complete, it is intended that any land designated as open space that is not already owned by the SWMVC will be transferred to it. All options therefore result in an increase in the total amount of land owned by the SWMVC.