Some quick notes about today’s public hearing called by examiner Richard High about the Wye Neighbourhood Plan. As usual this is my recollection rather than any official record:
- The mistake whereby some of the Olantigh estate land had been included in WYE3 in one of the maps was quickly dealt with. Mr High said that it would be changed for the final version of the plan.
- The procedure regarding the strategic environmental assessment (SEA) took rather longer. Mr High explained that regulations dictated that there should have been three distinct steps to setting up the SEA: first a screening assessment and consultation; then a determination and subsequent information provided to the three environmental bodies involved (Kent AONB, Natural England and the Environment Agency); and then finally you carry out an SEA. John Mansfield (representing Wye Parish Council) and Simon Cole (Ashford Borough Council) explained that they felt that the considerable consultation on possible development sites was an equally thorough procedure.
- Finally the issue of the concentric village. The inspector was curious as to how the idea of 400 metres or five minute walk had been arrived at. Telereal Trillium said that they wondered why it had been decided that the centre point should be near the Methodist Church (thereby excluding much of WYE3); that the ADAS site was entirely inappropriate as a site for a solar farm (as suggested in Neighbourhood Plan) because it was too small and shaded; and that while they could accept that concentricity was important, they felt that brownfield land should be developed first of all. They also said that the development of the school (soon to sign a lease for 9 acres along Olantigh Road) would mean that the village is developing towards ADAS anyway. And they explained that they were in process of applying for permitted development on the ADAS site. John Mansfield explained that the Neighbourhood Plan did allow for the siting of business or office use on the ADAS site. This was something that both the inspector and Telereal Trillium had not been aware of.
The inspector said that he would process this information as soon as he could, initially sending a version for fact checking to the borough council, before publishing recommendations. He said that this was likely to be after Christmas.