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Nutley's Local Development Framework Final Draft April 06
Contents Page no
1. Overview 2
2. Services and infrastructure 3
3. Leisure, Recreation and Culture 3
4. The Countryside and History 3
5. Business 4
6. Housing 5
7. Issues 6
8. Over-riding needs and Principles 7
1 Sustainability assessment 8
2 Village Design Statement by Nutley Conservation Group
1. Overview of the village as it is now
1.1. Nutley is a thriving village. It is an attractive place to live. Substantial developments in the last 15 years (Churchfields and Oakwood Park, The Orchard and Ashdown Chase) have increased the number of families with children in the village, and added to the strength of community groups and clubs. The village's key assets (shop, Post Office, public house and petrol station) have all been maintained. A sustainability assessment is contained in Appendix 1.
1.2. Major influences on the village are Ashdown Forest (which forms its boundary to north, east and south and comes into the village at Ford's Green), the AONB area in which the village is set, the increasingly busy A22 which divides the village east from west, and, socially, the fact that the village has a significant (by influence and number) group of residents who are descended from local, especially Forest, families and identify themselves as "Foresters".
1.3. The population of the village is 1342 persons. It is split reasonably evenly between male and female. They live in 520 households, and nearly 90% of the houses are owned outright or on a mortgage. The balance are of local authority, housing association or private landlord dwellings. Over 20% of people live alone, including pensioners. The population has grown by around 5% since the 1991 census. Further detail is on Appendix 2, at p11 et seq.
1.4. Nutley is notable for its strong sense of community and wide range of well-supported activities. These are essential elements of its "personality", and are highly valued. They depend on a sense of village/community and there are fears that these aspects of village life could be threatened by expansion of the village - accordingly, many residents are concerned that changes in the village should be gradual so as not to threaten these elements .
1.5. There is a need for housing available to young people and affordable housing for local people. Otherwise, the present housing stock is generally satisfactory in terms of its physical state, though some is not, and some would probably be modernised if it changed hands. The population has a component of retired and elderly people, probably typical of the area.
1.6. Many working people in the village travel out of the village to work; but there are many self-employed/sole trader businesses operating in or from the village, and several employers, who employ a mixture of local workers and of incomers.
1.7. The village has its large and well-equipped Memorial Hall, a well-used Social Club, a thriving church, a highly regarded primary school, a village store with sub-post office and is surrounded by Ashdown Forest or farmland. These elements of village life are of great importance to the social structure and identity of the village, and their future well-being is important to the future well-being of the village.
2. Provision of services/Infrastructure
2.1. Residents have to travel out of the village for almost all significant services:
2.1.1. GP and dental/optician services
Tunbridge Wells, Haywards Heath, Redhill, Crawley and Brighton
2.1.3. Secondary Education
Crowborough/Uckfield for everyday needs; but for department stores, a journey to Tunbridge Wells, Brighton or Crawley is needed.
The village has a grocers store and Post Office (combined) and a convenience type shop (including news agency) within the petrol station.
2.2. Efforts are being made in line with developing government policy to re-instate the doctors' surgery in the village; this would probably provide for part-time attendance of a doctor and for specialist clinics, especially for children and the elderly. We do not expect a stand-alone surgery but a branch of one of the local practices. A site is available by development/extension of the Memorial Hall.
2.3. Public transport directly serving the village is inadequate particularly for the young, the elderly and the disabled, and anyone wishing to make hospital visits. Those who can choose to use private transport do so. Rural/village life is not possible without access to local centres, and the absence of public transport and consequent reliance on private transport is a serious issue in Nutley as elsewhere.
2.4. As elsewhere, the pressure on existing resources, especially water, is noticeable, and the absence of any efforts to reduce such pressure leads to the obvious conclusion that any further housing can only lead to reduction in quality of life. We expect our District and County councils to recognise that infrastructure provision needs to anticipate, not follow, increased demands.
3. Leisure, recreational and cultural activity
3.1. Adult residents have an extensive range of locally provided leisure, culture and social activity provided by their own village groups. It is notable that none are provided by public service or commercial organisations. These are a vital element of the health of the village.
3.2. However, there are very few locally provided/available activities for the young – the tennis and squash club and stoolball club being the only well-supported local activities, with some young residents involved in soccer and cricket. There is no pressure for a skateboard park, but some evidence that younger boys (say 10 – 15) would like a place for off-road cycling; this used to exist in the rough ground on Dodds Bank.
4.1. The setting and appearance of the village are highly valued. It is a rural village, with views and easy access to Ashdown Forest. The Forest is widely used by residents for walking, and to some extent for riding. The protection of the AONB is highly valued.
4.2. If the present Development Boundary protection might fall away, we would want to look closely at the level of protection for the surroundings to our villages. We think that an on/off switch approach may be too harsh if it fails to recognise the desirability of some development outside the existing development boundary (say for affordable housing and for small-scale employment opportunities – small workshops etc) if these conform with traditional scale and style of rural vernacular building.
4.3. The countryside to the west and south is traditional Sussex farmland, with small fields in small holdings, with considerable afforestation. Its viability as working farmland has gone, but it continues to be well maintained. This must not be put at risk, but some adaptation of historic uses to suit modern needs may be needed in order to maintain appearance of this countryside, and that should be permitted only to the extent consistent with environmentally sensitive use. Typically, this would cover not only equestrian and other hobby type uses, but also business development housed in buildings as mentioned in 4.2 and subject to obligations as to maintenance of the surrounding fields and hedges.
4.4. The attraction of the countryside around Nutley creates tourist demands. So far these have not greatly affected Nutley. We can see that this may change. Provision for tourist facilities must be limited to what is consistent with maintenance of the beauty and accessibility of the countryside. This requires careful planning and not ad hoc development. In an area of high employment, we see the preservation of the countryside as an amenity and heritage issue prevailing over job creation and economic regeneration. The issue of travel to work is often raised as a counter-point; it is a false counter-point in and around Nutley – in the main, people do not travel to work because there is no local employment, but instead live in and around Nutley because they like it as it is, and choose not to live close by their work elsewhere.
4.5. Historically, local planning policy has included special protection for land within the Ancient Pale of Ashdown Forest. However, the line of the Pale is very uncertain in many places. We believe that policies should provide suitable protection for the AONB, for the Forest, for the countryside, and for the Pale itself (ie the Pale as an historic monument); but use of the Pale/Ancient Pale as a boundary for the purposes of planning should be abandoned, and a clear "line on the map" definition adopted in its place.
5. Business in the village
Nutley has far more business activity than is apparent from casual observation. These employ approximately 150 and include the School, Village Shop and Post Office, Petrol Station and shop, three motor repair workshops, car showroom, antique shop, village pub/restaurant, social club, an Indian and a Chinese restaurant, two care homes, a builders’ merchant (due to close) and various other small enterprises. Farming and forestry management, although small employers nowadays, are still important in maintaining much of the rural character and the quality of the environment for Nutley.
Over 90 home-based businesses have been identified, between them probably providing employment for a further 150 village residents. The range of activities mirrors the increasingly diverse range of services required by modern society and of activities that have developed because of the decentralising impact of modern telecommunications and computer technology. These activities can be summarised as: -
Professional and Personal Services including: accountancy and taxation, chiropractic, computer software, business consultancy, design services, fitness and life style, alternative therapies, nutrition, will writing, hairdressing, beauty therapies, domestic and care help, gardening and maintenance.
Trades: Building related, plumbing, heating engineers, blacksmith (farrier).
Arts and Crafts: Curtain making, picture framing, artists, photography, music, filmmaking, entertainment agency, rocking horse making.
Holiday and Leisure: Bed and Breakfast accommodation, holiday accommodation lets, horse riding and livery. Social trends indicate a strong potential growth for home business activity. It is more environmentally and family friendly and offers low fixed cost operations for an Enterprise economy.
Two restaurants, a public house and a number of local bed and breakfast businesses are capable of serving current tourist needs. The demand may grow. Tourism could be an important business in and around Nutley; it could also be damaging to the countryside. As above, this requires careful planning and not ad hoc development.
We do not expect to see substantial business developments in or around Nutley; and any which do occur should not be retail sites which may attract extra traffic, nor in other ways should they be major traffic generators.
6.1. Very few houses in Nutley have been on the market in recent years at under £200,000. For many young people, the prices remain too high. There is a backlog of unmet need for affordable housing and an ongoing need for its provision. The extent of this is uncertain, as we believe that the surveys carried out for WDC were not reliable, but its existence at a certain minimum level is clear. Accordingly, absent any change in market forces, provision is required to ensure that local people can stay in their community as they become independent, and that the socio-economic mix of residents continues; the latter is a feature of the village and a key element of its "personality".
6.2. There is a need for sheltered accommodation in the village, so that old people can remain among their friends when they cease to be able to live independently.
6.3. Affordable housing is frequently identified as the principal need. But we wish also to see an assessment of the need for particular sizes of house and for the need of the elderly who may wish to "downsize", releasing their larger houses to families with children living at home, but who cannot now find suitable smaller houses. That said, we are not aware of a large element of emigration from the village by older people who cannot find suitable housing here; and we do not foresee any major new building programme.
6.4. Affordable Housing
6.4.1. We wish to see a better quality survey to find the level of need for affordable housing on a local needs basis (that is, for people who have existing or family or work connections with the village).
6.4.2. We support a policy for that need to be satisfied by a steady but gentle release of land – we prefer to see a few houses built each year over several years than to have all anticipated need provided for in, say, a single two year development type scheme.
6.4.3. We support a policy allowing for self-build development of affordable housing, particularly as this shows commitment to the village by the people concerned; we believe there should be a priority for self-build development of single dwellings and of developments of up to four such dwellings.
6.4.4. We support a more flexible policy for affordable housing on the exception site basis such that small developments could be created where opportunities arise, particularly in the lanes south of Nutley, and off the C3 to the west of the village. and where the development would not be excessive nor out of character with the immediate vicinity. The policy requiring such developments to be adjacent to villages is unfairly restrictive for our villages, as no such land is available, and the need for it to be adjacent to the existing settlement is in large part based on accessibility to local public transport – but we have no effective local public transport, so the policy has a false basis. People who live in or around Nutley to a very large extent have cars and need cars, and so the provision of housing a short distance from the village should not be out of the question. Our country lanes, as elsewhere, have occasional small settlements of what once were farmworker or gatekeeper cottages. Policy should allow a carefully controlled extension of that settlement pattern.
6.4.5. There is also the opportunity to re-allocate some housing currently designated as holiday lets as affordable housing.
6.5. Residents believe that the need for development of the village, including for affordable housing, is not great; and that it is best achieved by steady and small growth, and not by occasional large scale developments as in the past (as at Churchfields/Oakwood Park, The Orchard and Ashdown Chase).
6.6. Residents do not want to see the village became substantially a dormitory village; especially they do not want it to become a rich or old person's village. They believe that economic growth in the South-East by creation of new jobs should require new housing located close to the new jobs, in order not to swamp existing villages and their facilities and infrastructure.
6.7. The school in Nutley is unsuitable for enlargement, filling its present site. More housing would create real difficulty in provision of places for local children, and that is a major restricting factor for development in and around Nutley. We do not foresee a development of sufficient scale to merit or finance a new school building on a new site.
6.8. Nutley's location in the Ashdown Forest and AONB makes it unsuitable for any substantial housing development to the east, north or south. Open farmland to the west is not in/on Ashdown Forest but is in the AONB; access to it for any future development is constrained by the way in which recent development (The Orchard and Churchfields/Oakwood Park) has been set, meaning that it will be possible to enlarge Nutley only from the C3 road to Chelwood Gate or from Bell Lane. Nether Lane is unsuitable for any increase in traffic as it has no footway and a single track bottleneck section at its northern end.
7.1.1. The A22 is unsuitable for any great increase in traffic. It has become a major concern for the safety and quality of life in the village; the volume and speed of traffic and the attitude of many drivers impede what would be seen elsewhere as normal walking or parking. The Parish Council has done considerable work investigating this and to suggest ways of mitigating the situation and the village looks to see these accepted and implemented.
7.1.2. There is inadequate parking in the village for drop-off and collection from the school, or for users of the shop; the large car park forming part of the Memorial Hall site is not public parking, and is reserved for users of the Hall. No obvious solution exists, but the fact needs to be understood in relation to the village's difficulties with the A22.
7.1.3. There are insufficient sites (possibly no sites) close by the village to meet affordable housing needs.
7.1.4. The playground is old, and some of its equipment near the end of its life. An upgrade will soon be required.
7.1.5. Other activity for older children is needed.
7.1.6. Sewerage arrangements are old, and in areas below Ashdown Close there appear to be run offs and overflows. These cause unpleasant smell and likely leaching into ground water.
7.1.7. Access to health services is a problem in that the local GP surgery for almost all residents is in Forest Row, and public transport to/from the surgery is inadequate.
7.1.8. The dependence of Nutley residents (and of other rural inhabitants) on private transport is excessive.
7.1.9. Some local country roads (especially C3) are used as if they were main roads – this makes the roads unsafe to horse riders and frightening to walkers and cyclists.
7.1.10. The allocation of PCSOs to villages has led to a welcome degree of attention to local policing, and the individual officer performs her job as well as we could hope; the provision of PCSO's, though, is only satisfactory if they are regularly in attendance and, whilst crime and anti-social behaviour are low, any reduction from present levels of attendance would not be accepted. The need for the Police to deliver hoped for improvements in Neighbourhood Policing and for enforcement action against the worst cases of illegal driving, especially careless driving in country lanes, is widely recognised.
7.2. District wide
7.2.1. There is widespread concern as to house building elsewhere and the demand it will place on resources/infrastructure, with the fear of their dilution in the established communities
7.2.2. There is great financial difficulty for young local people in making their homes in the villages with which they have close connections. The local need (ie for people whose origins or family connections are in the village or who work here) and available sites are such that only local need should be provided for in the village.
7.3. County wide
The village is greatly concerned at the impact of the potential East Grinstead Relief Road and that in particular it will lead to yet more traffic.
8. Over-riding needs and principles
8.1.1. Broadly, residents wish the village to retain its character and for changes to be made only in ways which do not threaten that. Change must be gradual.
8.1.2. Residents of Nutley wish to see that
22.214.171.124. Services are not reduced, either in absolute terms or by dilution as new external demands occur
126.96.36.199. Nothing is done which might reduce the numbers of young people or of people who work locally
188.8.131.52. Nutley retains its characteristics as a rural village.
8.2. It follows from the points at 7 above that
8.2.1. A22 controls need to be put in place, or other roads in the county upgraded, to prevent uncontrolled expansion of traffic through Nutley
8.2.2. Any plan for a relief road at East Grinstead must take account of this, ie it should provide for any increase in local traffic by reason of the proposed housing development, but not for other local traffic reduction if the effect of that would be to increase the volume elsewhere; and must include plans to stop an increase in through traffic. We look to the County Council to identify appropriate mitigation measures and for the cost of these to fall within the budget for the Relief Road.
8.2.3. Some parts of Nutley's sewerage system need to be upgraded
8.2.4. Provision should be made for local provision of health services, particularly for older people and mothers with small children
8.2.5. Provision should be made for activity for young people beyond the existing tennis and squash club.
8.2.6. Public transport needs to be re-assessed so as to provide for current needs of people in a way which will attract people to use it
8.2.7. The impact of traffic (essentially of drivers who have no concern for other people) on walkers, cyclists and horse riders is unacceptable; means must be found to allow local people to have an amenity use of local roads alongside car drivers
8.2.8. The recent allocation of PCSOs to villages has led to a welcome degree of attention to local policing, and the individual officer performs her job as well as we could hope. We look to early confirmation of the long-term funding of community policing.
8.2.9. We also look to the recognition of rural needs in the Policing Plan.
8.2.10. Planning for new housing should provide for the newly created infrastructure demands to be satisfied on first demand, not at some later date when the reduced service to established communities has become intolerable.
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