Core Strategy Issues & Options

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2. POLICY CONTEXT

National Policies

2.1 As you might expect, the Government sets the overall context in terms of the scale of development to be provided in different parts of the country as well as general principles it expects local planning authorities to follow.

2.2 These are contained in a series of planning policy statements. The Council will ultimately have to show that the local policies accord with national policies.

2.3 A full list of current national policy statements can be viewed at www.communities.gov.uk

Regional Planning and the South East Plan

2.4 Rother's Core Strategy has to conform to the adopted 'Regional Spatial Strategy'. This is currently Regional Planning Guidance Note 9 (RPG9). However, it only looks up to 2016 and is in the process of being replaced by the 'South East Plan' which will look forward to 2026.

2.5 The draft South East Plan has been produced by the South East Regional Assembly (SEERA) and is due to go before independent examination shortly. The current, draft South East Plan can be viewed on the SEERA website at www.southeast-ra.gov.uk/southeastplan

2.6 It is the South East Plan that will set the total amount of housing that should be built in districts.

2.7 For Rother, it currently proposes that an average of 280 dwellings are built each year over the period 2006 - 2026.

2.8 It further suggests that the majority of these (some 200 dwellings per year) be in the coastal belt focussed on Bexhill, which it regards as one of the few Sussex coastal towns having any significant development potential.

2.9 The South East Plan contains a specific strategy for the Sussex Coast sub-region which incorporates Bexhill and Rye, as well as Hastings, Eastbourne, Brighton and the West Sussex coastal towns. In this area, it proposes that particular emphasis be given to promoting economic regeneration, notably of the Hastings and Bexhill area.

2.10 It also recognises the regional importance of the A21 and A259/A27 and the railway lines that follow similar corridors between Hastings and London and along the south coast. Hastings itself is identified as a 'regional hub' to promote better transport integration and intensification of development.

2.11 There are no specific local policies for the more rural, inland parts of Rother - they are covered by general policies, notably for the protection of the AONB and the maintenance of vibrant rural communities.

2.12 At this stage, the South East Plan may still change before it is finally approved, which is expected to be in early 2008.

2.13 Therefore, the options provide some flexibility in terms of possible changes to overall development requirements. This is notwithstanding the Council's position on the draft South East Plan.

Council's position on the South East Plan:

The Council has noted that the scale of development proposed is similar to that provided by the existing Structure Plan and believes that this is potentially capable of being accommodated, but this is subject to clear commitments to the identified infrastructure improvements, including water supply and transport. It supports the priority to regeneration. It believes that higher levels of housing growth would not be compatible with either the economy of the area or its environmental constraints.

The Rother Community Plan

2.14 Community Plans are prepared by multi-agency partnerships to promote collaborative working to meet community goals.

2.15 The Rother Community Plan was prepared by the Rother Local Strategic Partnership (LSP) and strives for a place 'where everyone can live together sustainably'. Hence, it is important for the Core Strategy to be developed in close co-operation with the Rother Local Strategic Partnership (LSP).

2.16 The implementation of the Plan, which is divided into a number of priority action areas, is carried forward by Priority Action Groups.

The Board of the Rother LSP comprises Rother District Council, East Sussex County Council, Rother Voluntary Action, Action in Rural Sussex, a member of the Youth Parliament, South East England Development Agency and the Government Office for the South East. Also on the Board are the 8 Priority Action Group Lead Members.The Community Plan and its priorities span the period 2004 - 2009 and will be reviewed before the end of this period.

2.17 Also relevant is the Community Strategy for East Sussex - 'Pride of Place' - which similarly has a vision of achieving a sustainable county.

Rother District Council Corporate Plan

2.18 The Council has recently adopted a new 'Corporate Plan' to guide its services. It sets these against a vision for 2016 'To achieve a better quality of life in Rother' which has several identified components.

2.19 One of its service themes is 'Building Stronger, Safer Communities'. This recognises that there are pressures on people living in Rother that can lead to isolation and community fragmentation. These include longer hours of work and longer commuting distances as well as unemployment, family breakdown, the effects of ageing and the fear of crime. Stronger communities undertake activities to counteract these pressures and to enhance the enjoyment of living in local communities, urban and rural, in Rother. The Council recognises its role in enabling this activity.

Rother District Local Plan

2.20 The adopted Rother District Local Plan provides the statutory development plan up to 2011.The Local Plan's development allocations at north east Bexhill will in fact provide for some of the longer-term needs.

2.21 The Local Plan is also up-to-date in terms of according with the current national and regional policy framework.

2.22 It can be viewed at www.rother.gov.uk/planning and is available at the Council offices.

Other relevant strategies

2.23 There are a number of strategies and programmes which have spatial implications - that is, which impact upon the use of land and buildings, their layout and design, the movement of people and access to jobs and services such as open space and schools.

2.24 These include those of other public bodies responsible for particular services, such as the County Council, the Primary Care Trust, the Environment Agency and the Highways Agency.

2.25 It also includes the High Weald AONB Management Plan and the Council's own strategies for key services such as Housing, and Leisure and Culture.

2.26 A list of formal strategies identified as having a role in the use of land is contained at Appendix 1.

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