Core Strategy Issues & Options

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1. INTRODUCTION

Planning for Rother - your role

1.1 Rother is at the very start of a new planning process to shape the future of the District.

1.2 This is an invitation to everyone with an interest in the area to make their views known.

1.3 The Council has the responsibility of preparing a new 'Local Development Framework' (LDF) to guide change in Rother District over the next 20 years.

1.4 Council is required to plan for further development in the District.

1.5 It aims to do this in a way that is guided by a vision for what Rother should be like in the future - one that reflects the needs and aspirations of local people and communities.

1.6 To achieve this, the Council wants to work closely with the communities it represents, local businesses and other public agencies.

1.7 The Council has prepared this 'Issues and Options' Discussion Document to help stimulate and guide debate about how the district may evolve and grow.

1.8 Please take time to read it and take this opportunity to help shape the future of your area.

The 'Local Development Framework' (LDF) is the new system of development plans introduced by Government. Over time, it will replace the current Local Plan and Structure Plan.The LDF is really a portfolio of a number of documents. It will include a 'core strategy'; a document containing site allocations and ones setting out more detailed policies for particular areas or subjects.

The Council's programme for preparing each of these is contained in its 'Local Development Scheme' - see www.rother.gov.uk/ldf

How will the Local Development Framework be prepared?

1.9 first task in this process is to produce a 'Core Strategy'. This is the document that will set the vision and general distribution of development within the District up to 2026.

1.10 It will identify broad locations where development will be accommodated, but will not specify actual sites.That will be done through a separate 'Site Allocations' document' that will be prepared subsequently.

1.11 The Council already has the recently adopted Rother District Local Plan to guide development up to 2011.

1.12 However, by looking up to 20 years ahead, the Core Strategy can take a long-term view of the direction of change, rather than simply meeting short to medium-term development requirements.

1.13 It will need to consider how to plan for the new challenges that bear upon how we live, such as climate change and energy supply, as well as meet the further requirements for homes, shops, businesses, leisure, health facilities, schools, etc.

1.14 To be effective, the Core Strategy should integrate with other public strategies and programmes, such as for water, health, education and transport, to provide an overall "spatial planning strategy" for the district.

"Spatial planning" involves considering the full range of issues that have expression in the use of land and buildings and in patterns of movement. It looks at the relationship between areas and activities.
For Rother, this means considering the links with Hastings, which is the main employment and sub-regional service centre for much of the District; similarly, with Tunbridge Wells for the northern parts. Other important links, such as with ports and airports, and with other places where people travel to, notably London, should also be considered.

What opportunities are there to influence the Core Strategy?

1.15 The preparation of the Core Strategy has only just started.

1.16 The Council has reviewed the district's main characteristics and the factors that will influence future development patterns. These are set out in a separate document - 'Rother in Profile'.

1.17 This 'Issues and Options' document suggests development options that may be followed, but at this time the Council has no preconceived view of what options should be pursued. Indeed, there may be combinations of options or further options to explore.

1.18 This is the opportunity to tell the Council if it is looking at the right issues and options.

1.19 At this early stage, the future options are quite broad. This is to ensure the widest possible debate.

1.20 The more detailed consideration and refinement of 'preferred options' will be the next stage.

1.21 In turn, this will be followed by publication of the draft Core Strategy itself that will be subject to examination by an independent Planning Inspector.

Stages in preparing the Core Strategy and estimated timetable:

1. Issues and Options October 2006
2. Preferred Options June 2007
3. Draft Core Strategy November 2007
4. Examination May 2008
5. Adoption November 2008

1.22 There will be further opportunities for input at each stage of preparation.

1.23 The selection of 'preferred options' will be informed by the feedback from the current participation, together with further research.

1.24 The Council is in the process of collecting further information on retailing, recreation and open space provision, longer-term employment land requirements and the capacity of urban areas for further development.

1.25 The refinement of options will also be informed by a separate Sustainability Appraisal process, as set down in legislation.This will identify and consider the social, economic and environmental impacts of options in order to inform and to help ensure the creation of sustainable communities and sustainable development.

What is meant by "sustainability"?

You will often hear the terms "sustainable development" and "sustainable communities". These have a widespread use but can mean different things to different people.

'Sustainable development' is defined internationally as "development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs".

The Government's sustainable development strategy, 'Securing the future' published in March 2005, sets out five principles which all need to be met for development to be sustainable. These are elaborated upon in Section 4 below.

"Sustainable communities" are those that offer a well integrated mix of decent homes of different types and tenures to support a range of household sizes, ages and incomes and provide the social and physical infrastructure on which they depend.

These communities will be where people feel safe and have convenient access to employment, health, education, open space and recreational activities and good quality, local public services. They should also promote a vibrant local culture and sense of place as well as making effective use of natural resources.

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