What is a Neighbourhood Plan?

A Neighbourhood Plan is a document that sets out planning policies for a parish and aims to protect local green spaces, encourage better designed housing and bring forward required development that genuinely meets local needs. It is part of a Government sponsored initiative and every community in the country is encouraged to produce their own plan.

Such a plan is written by the local community and helps to get the right types of development in the right place in accordance with local aspirations.  It may contain a vision, aims, planning policies, proposals for improving the area or for providing new facilities, or allocations of key sites for specific kinds of development.

The plan relates to the use and development of land and associated social, economic and environmental topics.  It may deal with a wide range of issues – like housing, employment, heritage, transport and environment – or it may focus on one or two issues that are of particular importance in a local area  It does not deal with roads, transport, communications, etc. that are the responsibility of other bodies, although of course it can make recommendations and reflect local concerns.

This statutory status gives neighbourhood plans far more weight than some other local planning documents such as parish plans, community plans and village design statements.  Thus, it is important because it allows us, the residents and businesses, a significant influence in the shaping and future development of our parish.         

The parish of East Dean and Friston, including Birling Gap, Crowlink and Gayles Farm, is now in the process of developing a Neighbourhood Plan under these national guidelines.  This is a Parish Council initiative with the full support and involvement of the Resident’s Association.  The South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA), as our statutory planning authority, is also heavily involved and will provide input and guidance to our Plan.    Financial support for the process has been obtained for our initiative through government agencies.  A local Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group has been established and is meeting regularly.

The Vision for Our Parish

Each community producing a Neighbourhood Plan aims to reflect the characteristics, history and geography of their parish.  Within that plan, a set of policies is defined that meets the beliefs and desires of the residents.  Our parish has its own specific characteristics and aspirations that have been clearly articulated during the early consultation events.  The steering group has tried to encapsulate these thoughts and has developed them into the following vision.

Building upon the open and friendly village atmosphere and sensitively preserving the rural and built character of the Parish, our vision for East Dean, Friston, Crowlink, Birling Gap and Gayles Farm sees this parish continuing to be a thriving and sustainable place to live, work and visit, where everyone can play a full part in their community.

The mitigation of and need to adapt to climate change is a central strand of the vision. We aim to support householders in protecting and enhancing our natural environment, whilst promoting healthy living and connectivity for the benefit of all.

Any additional development within the Parish should reflect the priority to provide homes on smaller plots, suitable for downsizing for existing residents as well as for attracting and retaining younger people, and contributing to net zero environmental targets wherever possible.

Progress to Date

East Dean and Friston already had a Village Design Statement, first produced in 2004 and then revised in 2016.    Under the new neighbourhood planning process we are revising and expanding this document, which will then become the core of our full Neighbourhood Plan.  To date, there have been three public consultations regarding the preparation of our plan that took place in September 2023, January 2024 and May 2024.

It is really important that the residents and businesses in the parish have every opportunity to learn about what is happening with the Neighbourhood Plan.  Thus we have produced an inclusive communications strategy that aims to give everybody the chance to understand what is being done and have their say in how the plan develops.  Part of this is to develop a uniform and eye-catching style to our communications and related materials so that Neighbourhood Plan related activity is clearly recognisable.  This theme, that will be used for all publicity and documentation from now on, has been beautifully produced by graphic designer and parish resident, Tony Miller.  Our new logo can be seen at the top of this page.

Two mandatory documents have been completed that form part of the Plan appendix.  These are the Housing Needs Assessment Report and the Design Style Report.   Both documents were produced by an external consultancy.  The former is produced around a fixed template defined by the Government but the Design Style Report contains feedback from the residents based on the consultations sessions that we have had so far.  These documents can be read using the links on this page.

The parish’s Local Spaces, heritage sites and Local Significant Views have all been defined and will be included in the Plan.

A draft Neighbourhood Plan has been produced.     After consideration by the Parish Council in May 2024, the draft plan was submitted to the SDNPA for screening. This is not a final scrutiny for approval but will ensure that the plan will not result in any significant environmental impact. This screening exercise will be completed by the 16th July.   The full and summary Neighbourhood Plans will be available on this website and the Resident’s Association website at the beginning of the Consultation period in September 2024


Future Activity

Once the SDNPA have completed the screening exercise we will move onto a more formal consultation process with parish residents, probably at the beginning of September 2024.  This will last for up to six weeks.  After this, feedback and suggestions made during the consultation will be included in a more complete document which will then be published, with an easy-to-read summary, on the Parish Council and Resident’s Association websites.  For those who refer to have a paper document to read, copies will be available in appropriate locations around the parish. 


There is one last formal consultation period that will take place in early 2025 that will result in the finalisation of the plan.   Our plan will then be submitted for independent examination to make sure that the plan meets all Government guidelines and legal requirements.

The plan will then go to a parish-wide referendum, probably in mid to late summer 2025.   Once approved the Plan will then be adopted by the SDNPA and the Parish Council for use in planning decisions.

As you can see, it is very important that our Neighbourhood Plan is an accurate representation of the views of all parish residents so if you wish your opinions to be taken into account and have not as yet had your say please contact clerk@edfparishcouncil.org.uk



The Steering Group Team

The Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group has been set up by the Parish Council to manage production of the Plan. Membership of the group is:


            Councillor Michael Bustard (Steering Group Chair)

            Lesley D’Urso (Chair Residents Association)

            Alison Eardley (Neighbourhood Plan Consultant)

            Councillor David White

            Councillor Grant Fowler

            Jonathan Timberlake

   Tim Pontin


The production of the plan is a lengthy and at times, intensive process.  The Steering Group would be interested in hearing from anybody who like to join the team.  For further information please contact the Parish Clerk at  clerk@edfparishcouncil.org.uk


Links to Key Documents

Neighbourhood Plan - Full (available at the beginning of September)

Neighbourhood Plan – Summary (available at the beginning of September)

Housing Needs Analysis Report

Design Guide Report

Steering Group meeting agendas and minutes


Contacts for Further Information

If you have any questions please contact the Steering Group at clerk@edfparishcouncil.org.uk



Latest News – July 2024

You will probably notice that we have a new logo. This is part of a wider effort to give the Neighbourhood Plan (NP) project a common theme and identity, so that NP related activity is clearly recognisable.  This theme, that will be used for all publicity and documentation from now on, has been beautifully produced by graphic designer and parish resident, Tony Miller.  We think it looks very attractive and professional – we hope you do too.

After consideration by the Parish Council, the draft plan was submitted to the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) for screening.  This is not a final scrutiny for approval but will ensure that the plan is on track and that the legal requirements are being met. It will be completed by the 16th July.  After this we will move onto a more formal consultation process with parish residents, probably at the beginning of September.  Throughout the consultation process there will be public access to the plan, both in digital and printed form.  Initially, materials will be published on the Parish Council (edfparishcouncil.org.uk) and Residents Association (edfra.org.uk) websites.  Printed materials will be made available in convenient locations or provided on request.  For those not wanting to read the full 80+ page plan a summary will be produced.  Interactive sessions at the Village Hall will also be held so please get involved and make your opinions known.

We would urge those who have not had the opportunity to provide their views so far, to read this documentation and/or take part in the consultation sessions before the Plan is formally submitted.

Monthly updates will continue in the parish magazine but if you have any questions for the Steering Group please contact us at clerk@edfparishcouncil.org.uk












19th April 2024 

We need your input. Would you like to have a say in what the Parish will look like in the future? Then please read below:

Neighbourhood Plan – background: Neighbourhood Plans provide communities the opportunity to play a stronger role in shaping the areas in which they live and work and in supporting new development proposals. Neighbourhood Plans are different to the Parish and Village Design Statements. They sit alongside the Local Plan prepared by the local planning authority, in our case the South Downs National Park Authority, and as another statutory plan have real force.

One of the most vital aspects of a Neighbourhood Plan is that it takes into account the views of ALL in the community. In the past nine months we have been consulting the community about the parish's priorities and gathering the data we need to put a Neighbourhood Plan together. Neighbourhood Plans are about much more than future housing provision, they also encompass protection and enhancement of our natural environment, green spaces, heritage assets, community facilities, business and local economy. Thank you to everyone who responded.

The focus has now changed from building up the evidence base to drafting proposals based on the evidence. We gave an update at the Annual Village Meeting on 12th April 2024, and you will find the answers to some key questions that have come up about about neighbourhood planning - particularly in this parish -  in the Annual Village Report 2024 which you can access from this website.

We will shortly publish a first draft of our Plan, and there will be an Open Afternoon in the main hall of the village hall on Tuesday 7th May 2024, starting at 2.30 pm, when you can find out more about that. The draft will also be published on this website, on the Residents' Association website, and on the village website. It will then be sent to the South Downs National Park Authority for 'screening', which means that it is scrutinised by higher authorities such as Natural England, Historic England, and the Environment Agency, so see if it would have any 'significant impacts' on their work. We think it is unlikely that there will be any, as our proposals are more protective than anything else. The screening process will take 6 to 8 weeks. During that time, you will still be welcome to let us know what you think.  Are we getting it right? 

Once the draft has been screened, and any necessary amendments have been made, the South Downs National Park Authority will take charge of  a formal period of public consultation, supported by the parish council and the Residents' Association as usual.  Again, amendments may be made. Once the SDNP and the community are content, the draft is sent to the Planning Inspectorate for a formal Examination and, we hope, approval, though the Inspector may require some final amendments. Lastly, a referendum is held to determine whether the community support the adoption of the Neighbourhood Plan as a Supplementary Planning Document, which must be taken into account in the assessment of all future planning applications in the parish.

If you have any questions or suggestions about the Neighbourhood Plan, you can email us at admin@edfparishcouncil.org.uk, call us on 01323 811870 or drop us a line using the Village Hall post box.

Click here to view the agendas and minutes of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group

Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group Members

Cllr Michael Bustard (Chair)

Lesley d’Urso (Vice Chair)

Cllr Grant Fowler

Tim Pontin

Jonathan Timberlake

Cllr David White

The Group is supported by:

Alison Eardley (Planning Consultant)

Katrina Larkin (Deputy Clerk - until 30 April 2024); Sam Adeniji (Parish Clerk - from 1 May 2024)






Come and meet us.

Next Community Event

The next chance to check on progress at a public meeting will be the Open Afternoon on Tuesday 7th May 2024 in the Village Hall. Doors open 2.30 pm.  We hope to see you there!

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