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Sussex parish Community Right to Build Orders to proceed to referendum

Three development orders brought forward by a Sussex parish council have become some of the first to pass examination and be recommended for referendum under the UK government's Community Right to Build scheme.11 Sep 2014

The Community Right to Build was introduced by the UK government following the Localism Act in 2011. It allows communities to group together to draft Community Right to Build Orders (CRTBOs), proposing development projects that will benefit the local community. If approved by an examiner and by 50% of people voting in a local referendum, CRTBOs can be used to circumvent the need for planning permission for the development described within them.

Ferring Parish Council submitted three CRTBOs to Arun District Council alongside the emerging neighbourhood plan for the parish in April. The orders provided detailed proposals for three sites allocated for development in the neighbourhood plan. Arun District Council gave its support for the orders and for the neighbourhood plan and appointed independent examiner Clare Wright to examine them.

In a report dated 12 August (23-page / 178 KB PDF), the examiner confirmed that all three CRTBOs could proceed to referendum, subject to minor modifications to add to their clarity and ensure consistency between the orders and the neighbourhood plan.

Two of the CRTBOs proposed the construction of housing aimed at elderly residents looking to remain within the village but seeking smaller homes. The first order (43-page / 4 MB PDF) sought the construction of up to 14 homes with between one and two bedrooms on publically owned allotments and a privately owned yard behind the Henty Arms public house. The second CRTBO (41-page / 5 MB PDF) proposed a further 10 one-bedroom 'downsizer' homes on land currently occupied by the Ferring village hall in the centre of the parish.

The proposed loss of the existing village hall was addressed in the third CRTBO (40-page / 3 MB PDF), which contained proposals for the demolition of the existing Glebelands community centre and its replacement with a larger, two-storey community centre with up to 1,300 square metres of floorspace. The new community centre would provide a new home for clubs and organisations currently occupying the village hall and might include offices for Ferring Parish Council, a police liaison and a drop in doctors surgery, the order said.

The inspector was satisfied that conditions attached to the CRTBOs were sufficient to ensure protection of the Ferring Conservation Area and the setting of listed buildings that would be affected by the village hall and community centre proposals. Wright praised the consultation process followed in the preparation of the orders, finding that "sufficient community engagement and the right to respond has been demonstrated and resulting alteration subsequently made to these orders".

Recommending the CRTBOs for referendum, the inspector said that "Ferring Parish Council is to be commended for taking the initiative in producing its CBRTOs, which are amongst the first in the country to reach examination stage".

In a separate report (36-page / 223 KB PDF), Wright confirmed that the neighbourhood plan for the parish, which proposes up to 50 new homes by 2029, could also proceed to referendum, subject to minor alterations. "It is my view that the Ferring Parish Neighbourhood Plan reflects the views of the community and sets out a clear and deliverable vision for the neighbourhood area," wrote the inspector.

While the plan and the orders could proceed to referendum separately, the inspector advised that "a benefit of including the orders in the referendum with the plan is that the three most important and mutually dependent proposals will be delivered in the ways proposed in the plan and will be familiar to the public that has had extensive input already".