Boxgrove neighbourhood plan delays could cost parish funding

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Boxgrove could miss out on infrastructure funds if it has further delays to its neighbourhood plan, the parish council has warned.

Their plan was first submitted in December 2017 but nearly a year later, the process is still being held up, this time by new European regulations requiring more detail on the impact on wildlife habitats.

The parish council previously issued a complaint over months of delays getting the plan to consultation this summer.

A spokesperson for Chichester District Council responded that the council had supported Boxgrove as much as it could in the ‘complex’ process, which had been delayed by the 2018 legal changes and the resources needed for its own Local Plan review.

Chairman of the neighbourhood planning committee for Boxgrove, David Leah, said he had now been working on the plan for at least four years.

He said: “It’s the most frustrating thing I’ve ever been involved with. We’ll be moving things forward and then they come up with a new obstacle.

“We’ve reached the end of our tether with it.”

He pointed to a catalogue of delays and paperwork issues and stressed the parish was in danger of losing out on ‘a significant amount’ of enhanced CIL funds (community infrastructure levy) for any new homes in the reviewed Local Plan.

An added frustration, he said, was that the plan’s housing sites were very unlikely to cause habitat issues.

Chichester District Council has said the current delay is ‘largely’ due to a legal judgement in April relating to habitat assessments, known as the Sweetman judgement, which had ‘served to hinder’ neighbourhood plans processes across the country.

It stated: “We are currently seeking legal advice to clarify the situation, but we need to wait for the results of this before the examination of the plan can be completed.

“Unfortunately, another issue which has affected the Boxgrove plan is that we have experienced serious resourcing issues specifically for neighbourhood planning, and have spent a significant amount of time without a dedicated neighbourhood planning officer. During this time we have had to focus our limited resources on delivering the draft Local Plan Review.

“Once we have received the legal clarification, the examination is complete, and we have received the examiner’s report, we will work with the parish council to find a way forward.”