Neighbourhood Plan FAQs (updated 24.4.24)


Q: What will the Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan referendum question actually be?

A: The actual poll question will be ‘Do you want Wealden District Council to use the Neighbourhood Plan for Wadhurst  to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?’ The response will be either ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.

Q:  If the Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan referendum vote is “No”, will there be another chance to vote for a revised plan?

A:  No, this is a one-off vote.  All the public consultations have already taken place.  If the Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan is not adopted at the referendum, we will have reached the end of the process, and it will have to be scrapped.

Q:  Does the Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan mean that development will start soon in Wadhurst?

A:  No.  The Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan can’t dictate when or if any landowners might apply for planning permission to build.  That’s entirely a matter for them to decide.  What the Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan can do is set out what type, size and style of building would, or wouldn’t, be appropriate to fit in with the character of Wadhurst.

Q:  Does the Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan mean that Wadhurst has to build a certain number of houses?

A:  No.  The Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan does not allocate sites, nor does it have a housing target.  There is no obligation for any new homes to be built.  The Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan just sets out policies to make sure any building which would get permission anyway, (such as infill, or redevelopment of agricultural sites,) is in keeping with the village.

Q:  If I like most of the Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan, but there’s one bit that I disagree with, what should I do?

A:  The Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan is our best chance to protect Wadhurst from the whims of planners, who don’t know or care about our village, and are under pressure to say “yes” to as many applications as possible.  Even if you don’t agree with every detail of the Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan, you should consider voting “yes” to adopting it, to make sure the elements you do like are not lost.

Q: At 97 pages plus appendices, the Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan is too long for me to read, what should I do if I want to understand it? Which bits are important?

A: If adopted, the policies are what will be used in determining planning decisions. Perhaps consider reviewing the following table outlining the 17 policies and focusing on those which are of greatest importance to you.

WAD1 LOCATION OF DEVELOPMENT Describes where development will be supported and where it will be resisted
WAD2 MEETING LOCAL HOUSING NEEDS Describes the mix of housing sizes, types, tenures and affordability that will be supported.
WAD3 DESIGN AND CHARACTER OF DEVELOPMENT Describes the design and character requirements to maintain Wadhurst’s unique sense of place
WAD4 SUSTAINABILITY AND DESIGN Describes how appropriate sustainable design features will be supported
WAD 5 CONSERVING HERITAGE ASSETS Describes how heritage assets will be assessed and how non-designated heritage assets may be identified
WAD6 CONSERVATION AREAS Describes the requirement to preserve and enhance the character of our two conservation areas
WAD7 SAFE AND SUSTAINABLE MOVEMENT Describes how safe and sustainable movement will be supported
WAD8 CAR PARKING PROVISION Describes how loss of parking will not be supported and additional publicly accessible car parking will be supported
WAD9 EMPLOYMENT RETENTION AND LOCAL ECONOMY VIABILITY Describes how new employment activities and retention of employment activities will be supported
WAD10 SUPPORTING SUSTAINABLE RURAL TOURISM Describes how sustainable tourism will be supported
WAD11 COMMUNICATION INFRASTRUCTURE SUPPORT Describes how development will require communication infrastructure (and how this should be provided with little or no visual impact on the landscape)
WAD12 CONSERVATION OF THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT, ECOSYSTEMS AND BIODIVERSITY Describes how proposals should be designed to create and enhance green infrastructure and how they must follow mitigation hierarchy when considering biodiversity impacts.
WAD13 BEWL WATER RESERVOIR AREA AND ASSOCIATED PUBLIC ACTIVITIES Describes the social and environmental factors that tourism-related development at Bewl must comply with
WAD14 PROTECTION OF DISTINCTIVE AND HIGHLY VALUED VIEWS Describes how the impact on ten locally significant views must be considered in any development that could impact them
WAD15 LOCAL GREEN SPACES Describes the designation of five local green spaces and how they will be considered in the same way as Green Belt
WAD16 PROTECTION OF DARK SKIES Describes how dark skies should be considered in development proposals
WAD17 IMPORTANT COMMUNITY FACILITIES Describes how the loss of important community facilities will not be supported



Q: The language is not easy to understand.  Why?  And how can I understand it better?

A: A Neighbourhood Plan is a technical planning document, so it must be written in planning language. Section 15 of the Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan gives a glossary explaining these technical planning terms to help with understanding it.

Q: If we vote for the Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan in the referendum, will we be seen as NIMBYs and finances withheld by the District / County Council?

A: Wealden District Council (WDC) encourages the creation of neighbourhood plans. There is a financial benefit to the Wadhurst community if the plan is approved. (If adopted the Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan will form part of the Development Plan for Wealden District and will be used to determine planning applications in Wadhurst parish. If the Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan is voted in, the Parish Council will receive an extra 10% of any Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) charged within the parish.) East Sussex County Council (ESCC) and WDC have been fully consulted during the development of the Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan and the Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan has been examined by a statutory examiner (an eminent planning KC), to ensure that the plan complies with the regulations.

Q: Does the Wadhurst Parish Council support the Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan?

A: Yes, absolutely. The Wadhurst Parish Council is the ‘relevant’ body which initiated and gained designation of the Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan Area in 2017 and has subsequently supported the creation of a Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan by the neighbourhood plan steering group of resident volunteers and parish councillors.

Q: What has the Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan journey been and how have residents been involved?

A: The timeline outlined below gives a summary of the Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan journey. The boxes in yellow indicate some of the consultations and feedback from residents which have subsequently been used to create and refine the Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan. The plan is community driven and based entirely on what the community have said.


Q: There are waits of several weeks for a GP appointment, Wadhurst needs a new GP surgery. Why is this not prioritised in the Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan and only covered in section 13 ‘Community Aspirations’?

A: A neighbourhood plan is a legal planning document about development and land use.  It is not allowed to have policies on strategic issues such as health care provision. However, a neighbourhood plan can capture, as a non-statutory element, ‘Community Aspirations’ to help guide the Parish Council and other stakeholders (such as, for healthcare provision in Wadhurst, the Sussex Primary Care Trust and Clinical Commissioning Group) on how to prioritise and allocate efforts and funding.


Q: What are the limits of Neighbourhood Planning?


A: Neighbourhood planning policies can only influence development that requires a planning application. A Neighbourhood Plan cannot have planning policies on issues that fall outside of the scope of planning control.

Q: What is development?

A: The term “development” has a specific legal meaning when it comes to planning. It covers building, engineering and other operations and also material changes in the use of land or buildings.

All “development” requires planning permission although some development is granted automatic planning permission and so does not require a planning application.

There are a wide range of initiatives which Wadhurst, as a local community, wishes to pursue which fall outside the legal definition of development. This doesn’t mean they are not important, but a neighbourhood plan cannot mandate their delivery. They are included in the plan as projects (section 13 – Community Aspirations) but they are a non-statutory part of the Neighbourhood Plan.


Q: Please give some examples of what a neighbourhood plan can influence. Can a neighbourhood plan ….

Protect a beautiful view? Yes – through policies which place appropriate conditions on planning permission
Ensure any developments include affordable homes? Yes – planning policies can require a proportion of new homes to be affordable
Improve the local train service? No – you will have to lobby your train company and local MP.
Set up a local green business network? No – but this could be a community aspiration
Introduce a 20mph zone? No – speed limits are a matter for the Highways Authority but traffic management in relation to new development is for planning policy
Control the conversion of a restaurant to a tanning salon? No – this is currently ‘permitted development ‘and so not subject to planning policy.



Q: Why do neighbourhood planning policies matter?

A: The policies in a neighbourhood plan carry significant legal weight when decisions on planning applications are made. Planning decisions are ‘plan led’ as planning law requires that applications for planning permission must be determined “in accordance with the development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise”. This is sometimes called the “presumption in favour of the development plan” – where the starting point for deciding on a planning application is whether the proposals align with planning policies.

If voted in, the Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan will become part of the ‘development plan’ (which also includes your Wealden’s Local Plan) and so the policies it contains will be central to the planning decisions in Wadhurst parish. Neighbourhood plan policies take precedence over non- strategic policies in the Wealden Local Plan where they are more up to date. This kind of influence on planning decisions has not been available to communities before. The bottom line is that neighbourhood planning policies really matter.


Q: I previously read the draft Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan, what has changed since then?

A: The draft plan has been examined by a statutory examiner who gave approval for the Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan to go forward for referendum subject to the modifications described in his ‘Examiners Report’.  These modifications have been made and reviewed by Wealden District Council who then issued a ‘decision statement ‘ agreeing to go to referendum with this final referendum version of the Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan.

A copy of the Examiners Report can be seen on Wealden’s website (Wadhurst-Neighbourhood-Plan-Examiners-Report-CLM-KC-21.12.23-2.pdf ( and a summary of the changes can be found on the Parish Council’s website (Update on the Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan (WNP) – Wadhurst Parish Council (


Q: Why did the examiner suggest modifications, did he not like the plan?

A: On the contrary, the examiner was very complementary even concluding in his report  “that overall the [Wadhurst] NP is well researched, well-evidenced and clearly laid out and written.” However, to conform with the legal requirements of the “Basic Conditions” of Neighbourhood Planning law he required some modifications to be made. Subject to making those modifications he recommended the Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan go forward to referendum. These modifications have been incorporated. The full text of the exmainers report can be found here – Wadhurst-Neighbourhood-Plan-Examiners-Report-CLM-KC-21.12.23-2-1.pdf (

Q: I’ve only just heard about the poll, why haven’t we been given more notice?

A: The poll process is run by Wealden District Council (WDC) who have given residents and the Parish Council the required statutory notice on 26th March. Because of the imminence of the referendum date imposed by WDC, any leaflets organised by the Parish Council giving information about the referendum date/details would have been published around the same time as the polling cards which was not felt to be an effective use of public money. Unfortunately, the timing by WDC didn’t allow sufficient notice for WPC to be able to put it in this month’s edition of Focus.  (The date was driven by WDC’s laudable desire to make efficient use of public funds by holding the referendum on the same day as the police commissioner poll.)

Q: Where can people see a physical version of the Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan that they will be voting on?

A: Hard copies of all the Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan referendum documents are available to view in Wadhurst Library. Please ask at the desk. Hardcopies of the referendum version of the Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan and the Wadhurst Design Code can now also be found in Carillon Cottage.

Q: Where can I see digital copies of the Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan documents?

A: All the documents are available on Wealden District Council’s website under their neighbourhood planning page (link here – Neighbourhood Planning – Wealden District Council – Wealden District Council.)

  • Please scroll down this page and under the section titled “Neighbourhood Areas Preparing a Neighbourhood Plan” click on the “ + Wadhurst” to expand the selection.
  • All the referendum documents are in the box labelled “Referendum” including the referendum version of the Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan and the Wadhurst Design Code (which is an integral part of the Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan and forms Appendix B – referred to in Policy WAD3); these are highlighted in the screenshot below for ease.


Q:  I still have questions, who can I ask?

A:  There was a well-attended informal drop-in session held on Thursday 18th April at Sparrow’s Green Pavilion. Further FAQ’s have been added, following feedback from that session. However, if you still have questions, please email the

Q: Where was the drop-in session advertised?

A: Digitally, on our Facebook page and website. Physically, on poster boards displayed in the parish and in the Wadhurst Neighbourhood Plan Noticeboard.

Q: The drop-in session clashed with Wadhurst Cinema night, how can I ask my question?

A: Further FAQ’s have been added, following feedback from that session. However, if you still have questions, please email the

Q: I’m not sure what to do, can you tell me which way should I vote?

A: The referendum on May 2nd is governed by electoral law and overseen by the electoral commission. An important aspect of electoral law, underpinning the democratic process, is that the Parish Council cannot tell people how to vote.