24 February 2020: Plan Adopted by Lewes DC

The Seaford Neighbourhood Plan was ‘made’ (adopted) by Lewes District Council on 24 February 2020 following the referendum in which a majority of ‘yes’ votes were cast in favour of using the Seaford Neighbourhood Plan to help determine planning applications in Seaford.

Various options are being considered by residents who wish to see the Plan amended to ensure that Seaford’s existing recreation spaces (notably The Salts, The Downs and Walmer Road) are protected and retained. At present they are vulnerable due to changes in the LDC Local Plan, Parts 1 and 2, which dropped protection for such sites, substituting “provided suitable mitigation is found” wording. As has been seen, acceptable “mitigation” can amount to drastic reductions in size, with the claim that small areas of fenced-in, pay-as-you-play artificial turf are somehow actually better for all users than open grass.

9 February 2020: Referendum vote result.

Residents voted to accept the Neighbourhood Plan. Of 6239 votes cast, 5566 voted yes. We now await formal adoption by Lewes DC.

Thursday 6 February 2020 was the Referendum date

We now await the count, then take stock.

20 January 2020 – Paraphrased comments from one of our Committee Members

To take a “middle path”, one that neither accepts nor rejects the Neighbourhood Plan, would require that:

  1. STC ask LDC to postpone or cancel the Referendum until Seaford has got a Plan which will be acceptable to a majority, and
  2. LDC accept that STC have requested this within the proper time limit. (Otherwise LDC’s Referendum has to go ahead regardless).

Looking at the literature, and the nature of STC, this is most unlikely to happen (and the timescale is too short anyway). So what if we do reject the SNP?

The answer is very much less than satisfactory. A community which decides it wants a NP can have only one go at it. It cannot reject a bad “first draft” and make a second. It just ends up with no NP at all, which would give us no infulence whatsoever with forthcoming planning applications. The only option seems to vote to have the Plan adopted, and then immediately move to a Review (which is allowed to happen at any time).

None of this is reasonable or good news for anyone in Seaford, except maybe the present Steering Group and its mates. Once the Plan has been adopted (which LDC has to do asap after the Referendum), we can either form a purely residents Steering Group or lobby STC to kindly allow us to do so – i.e. we’ll need People Power.

Although NPs are in practice managed by Parish Councils, they are supposed (very clearly) to be the voice of the whole community, not just three people who were allowed by a Town Clerk and a few Councillors to end up making the decisions. It will almost certainly take mass action to persuade the Town Council to listen to us for once, and no doubt every obstacle possible will be put in our way. But the Council will have to give way if we all stick together and make life unbearable for them!

It won’t be hard for us to explain to other Seaford residents (who may not have been following the saga) why this has to happen, and to gain support. Support is also certain to come from a significant number of Town Councillors, once they have the facts. Others will object, but they will make little difference.

In the meantime we’ll just have to fume until LDC formally “makes” (adopts) the SNP. Then we can campaign strongly to introduce some of the areas which Residents WANT to be included but which were omitted. It’s one of the strengths of S R V that we have the ability to do so.

That is the ludicrous reality of Neighbourhood Plans. No-one actually spells it out anywhere (probably because it is too silly for words). It’s clear that the – very few – parishes which have rejected a NP have ended up with nothing. The rest of the 700+ have accepted (some with less grace than others) and either ignored it thereafter or gone for a Review to correct the faults. Yes, it is bureaucratic blackmail, but we have all learned a thing or two, and it will be hard to fool us entirely again.