Lavant and Singleton parishes speak on neighbourhood plans

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LAVANT and Singleton parish councils are one step closer to developing documents which will help negotiate their futures.

Although final neighbourhood plans are still a long way off, the parish councils are among many in the Chichester district to submit their neighbourhood planning area.

Lavant councillor Ian Hutton said: “Although the neighbourhood plan is the responsibility of the parish councillors, it will not reflect the views of the individual parish councillors.

“We plan to set up a steering group shortly and then start gathering evidence.

“We have to be prepared; development will take place in the next ten years. There are a great deal of people living on their own in this area. We lack suitable housing options for these people, who really value their independence, so perhaps that is what we need to focus on.

“If you give the village a chance to put their views forward you will get something out of it, but obviously not everyone is going to vote for development in their own back garden.

“The plan, including the public vote, won’t be ready for at least another two years. But we hope to have an initial questionnaire soon. We are going into this with a very open mind.”

The community vote in a referendum on the neighbourhood plan and, after examination and approval, decisions on future planning applications must take it into account.

Morris Pollock, chairman of Singleton Parish Council, said the neighbourhood plan was all about ‘developing a legally enforceable and binding document’.

“It is a really major piece of work,” he said.

“We don’t know how far we will get, but it gives us the opportunity to look at sustainability, and what will be appropriate for our area.”

In recent months it has often seemed the Observer area is facing a barrage of housing development applications.

Although parishes accept they must meet targets for new homes, there is widespread worry they will lose some of their highly-prized characteristics so are taking every precaution.