Crowhurst Neighbourhood Plan submission, on behalf of Crowhurst Parish Council)  to Rother District Council on Q 19 (Strategic Gaps) of the Development and Sites Allocation consultation.
In principle, Crowhurst Parish Council and its Neighbourhood Plan Group do agree that development within Strategic Gaps should be carefully controlled and support enhancement of the Gaps. However, as detailed below, we do have some concerns about the proposed areas of Strategic Gap around Crowhurst Parish.

The Core Strategy defines a strategic gap as ‘area of largely open land between settlements, which helps to maintain the separate identity and amenity of settlements and prevent them merging together. The boundaries are defined in the Local Development Framework.’ Whilst it is noted the 2006 plan primarily focussed on the gap between Hastings and Battle, it is considered that Rother District Council (RDC) should consider the term more broadly, particularly as Crowhurst is located sensitively between settlements which are subject to a greater growth, namely Battle, Bexhill and Hastings. The existing gaps between these settlements and Crowhurst should therefore be maintained in order that the identity of the village’s individual character is maintained.

In terms of the suggested deletion of part of the strategic gaps to the North/Northwest of Crowhurst, it should be noted the land subject to deletion from the strategic gap does still provide a physical and valuable gap between the settlements of Battle, Telham and Crowhurst itself. Furthermore, the weight applied to criteria such as visibility and inter-visibility, whilst being relevant, are not the only factors that are relevant and these do underplay the wider role of this land in maintaining appropriate physical separation between settlements, especially as the varying topography doesn’t always afford long range views between the gap edges. Thus using such limited criteria should be applied with caution. It is considered such land does still play a valuable role in a physical sense in maintaining the identity of the settlements, including Crowhurst, and are valuable as a protective tool in locations such as this, which are subject to development pressures on account of proximity to railway stations and sustainable hubs. Whilst it is considered the deletion of this land will not have an immediate impact on Crowhurst, the need to alter such boundaries and the gap area when it remains a valuable tool is questioned.

In terms of the extension to the strategic gap to the south, this approach is generally supported  as it will provide greater additional protection to the village of Crowhurst but this support is on the basis the boundary of the gap is not yet final and shall, in its final form, be consistent and have regard to the Crowhurst Neighbourhood Plan which will contain the site allocations and a revised village development boundary.  As the neighbourhood plan is being prepared alongside the DaSA plan and will allocate the development required for Crowhurst, it is essential that the strategic gap boundaries do not influence or prohibit our process of objectively assessing and allocating sites for our plan and its other policies and therefore it is assumed the boundaries of the strategic gap are not fixed at this stage, pending the preparation of the Neighbourhood Plan. In order to ensure that both plans proceed appropriately, it is envisaged that there will be regular communication between Crowhurst and Rother in order the aspirations of the Neighbourhood Plan and the District Plan are compatible throughout the process and also at adoption. This need for collaborative working and communication also applies to the other boundaries of the strategic gap or other policies which may require alteration on account of the outcomes of the Neighbourhood Plan.
100 word summary:
Crowhurst Parish Council (CPC)and its Neighbourhood Plan Group do, in principle, agree with Question 19. However, the removal of the Strategic Gap (SG) to the North/Northwest of Crowhurst  concerns  the CPC. It is felt this area does play an important role in separating the settlements of Crowhurst, Battle and Telham.
The extension of the SG to the South/Southeast of Crowhurst is generally supported provided the final boundary is agreed between Crowhurst and RDC as our emerging Neighbourhood Plan may need to amend the current development boundary.  It is vital that we are able to objectively assess and allocate sites.
Ros Day
Chair Crowhurst Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group
13th Feb 2017



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