South Downs National Park – Whole Estate Plans consultation – closes Sunday 21 March

The South Downs National Park Authority is reviewing its policy on ‘Whole Estate Plans‘ and is asking for comments and suggestions. They have published a consultation on their website. Comments must be submitted by Sunday 21st March 2021. In just one week’s time, the Park’s consultation will close. The South Downs Network (SDN) will be making a submission. If you would like to contribute to the SDN please download the file below and return it by Thursday 18th Feb to vic.ient.sdn@gmail.com

The current Whole Estate Plans are: Wiston, Newton Valence, Iford, Highfield, West Dean, and Eastbourne Downland. The revised policy document will also cover plans that are submitted in the future.

What are Whole Estate Plans?

The South Downs National Park is the only national park in the country that has a system of ‘endorsed’ Whole Estate Plans (WEPs). These plans are effectively a private agreement between the landowner and the National Park. There is no legal requirement for plans to go through any form of public consultation. Consultation is effectively left up to the estate owner.

Whole Estate Plans are not vetted by qualified planners and are approved by the Policy and Resources committee of the National Park and not the Planning Committee.

The problem with these plans is that the National Park has decided that WEPs are a ‘material’ consideration when considering planning applications. It seems that none of the other 15 national parks in the UK link any form of estate plan linked to planning applications. The South Downs National Park Local Plan, which has been approved by the Secretary of State, has 55 non-site-specific policies and only makes reference to whole estate plans in one subsection of one policy (SD 25) where it says under item 3

“in considering development proposals outside settlement boundaries within rural estates and large farms positive regard will be had to the following: –

  • a) the development proposals are part of a whole estate plan that has been endorsed by the National Park authority
  • b) the development proposals deliver multiple benefits in line with the purposes and the special qualities of the National Park and in regard to ecosystem services”

The South Downs Network (SDN) feel that if Whole Estate Plans a number of things have to change including:

  • Removing the ‘material consideration’ link to planning application
  • Adding a demonstrable public consultation phase
  • Adding a requirement that WEPs have to be update every 3 year and if they are not they should not be used by the Park in any of their plans or considerations
  • Ensuring that the plans cover forestry, rural, farming, horticulture, biodiversity and climate adaption development and exclude commercial and industrial developments

Please help us develop a response along these lines and if you don’t have much time, just send us some pointers by CONTACTING US.

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Here are links to the current Whole Estate Plans:

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