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the Eton versus East Chiltington chronicles
In February 2021 the residents of East Chiltington learned that Eton College had plans to destroy their way of life by concreting over fields to build an unasked for and entirely unnecessary new town. see story timeline
click to get bigger image  - Lewes District Map - consultation for local plan
... click to expand

Do you want new towns?

just tell us where

says Lewes District Council

news:- Friday, July 9, 2021 - Lewes District Council today launched its Local Plan - Issues and Options consultation. This is to inform the planners whether residents prefer to achieve (externally imposed and divorced from reality) house building targets by having a small number of huge sites - such as the Eton new town (North Barnes Farm project) or if they prefer it done by a large number of small sites. Learn more about the issues here... Editor's comments:-if - like me - you're strongly opposed to the idea of the Eton new town and similar speculative developments in this area then before plunging into any more activities related to this - you may think it worthwhile talking with other like minded people first - because the way ahead is confusing.

The fundamental question I asked myself is this...

Is getting involved with the new Local Plan Consultation going to make any difference?

The influences to my own thinking came from 2 places.
  • When researching some academic studies about this type of planning process - I found some useful reports which I inserted as links into my earlier blog - Planning??? - some new guides.

    A common conclusion from those studies is that - Local Plans do not deliver outcomes which in any way resemble democratic expectation.
  • Looking closer at first hand evidence - a few months ago - I did my own desk based research to get a picture of local views - by reading the first 400 objection letters submitted (mostly) by residents in Plumpton and East Chiltington - in response to a planning application to build 89 houses on farmland which is practically in the same location as the Eton new town site - but closer to the Plumpton end of North Barnes Lane.

    I reported on that Nolands Farm application on these pages - and extracted samples of what residents were saying - on a daily basis.

    One of the 5 key factors which came up again and again - was people's disillusionment with the planning system.

    In particular the question - why is this speculative project even being considered? - when so much effort had been put in by local people to formulate a local plan for Plumpton not that long ago - which expressly said this type of development should not take place.
As I write this today (July 13th) it seems that the new consultation process launched by Lewes Planners raises key questions for people who are opposed to the senseless concreting of our countryside.

How much confidence can we have that - even if there was a 99% community vote that there shouldn't be a new town development - that this majority view would prevail?

On the face of it there are no guarantees that majority views win in the current framework of planning electoral colleges.... They are part of the broken pipework in the underbelly of English democracy.

There are many reasons for this including:-
  • excessive weight given to favour developers - because they speak the same planning language

  • unconscious bias by planners who are unable to recuse themselves from making decisions about plans to which they have contributed pre planning advice

  • budgetary pressures on local councils to avoid decisions which would involve legal challenges by developers. Resident groups are typically unable to fund the hundreds of thousands of pounds needed to pursue objections - regardless of the merits - and knowing this - planners tend to err on the side of the best funded legal team - when calculating how to mitigate their own local councils' liabilities.
Political commentators might say at this stage - we've known the planning systems has flaws and cracks and that's why Parliament has been actively working on it since last year. Haven't you read - The future of the planning system in England?

Yes. I started reading it in the early hours of June 10, 2021 - the day it was published.

And some good may come of it - but it doesn't help us right now.

Because one thing about English Law is - that if something's already happened - such as an agricultural plot being rezoned for building - then a new law might say something about the colour of those new houses, or the tax due when they're sold - but the new towns will already be done deals.

So - what do we do about the consultations now in play?

Talk to people you trust. Listen to what the campaign groups say.

Take part in the process - if you can - because a high level of participation will give the planners less wriggle room for ignoring our wishes.

But the consultation is not the only game in town. And the Local Plan is not the only way to stop the Eton new town.

Democracy makes its own rules.

And - when it comes to planning and trashing our countryside - we won't get fooled again.
stop Etonbury - new town in East Chiltington wrongthingwrongplace.com

typist - STOP ETONBURY... I must get Uiop to add it to that list - name for a new town west of Lewes - yes he'll do it - he's almost like my right hand.
artist - hey typist! - you're not on mute. You seem to be talking to yourself again
typist - sorry I write notes to myself too
artist - that's one way of getting readers... it's a very small village isn't it?
typist - yes - all the good writers are busy doing letters
artist - . you seem to be repeating yourself too
typist no one's going to read my words anyway - when they see your new picture - it says it all.
silent spring and concrETON image wrongthingwrongplacedotcom"Concreting over precious green fields - when brownfield sites are available - in the 2020s in South East England - is more reckless and careless of the well being of future generations than spraying the 1950s fields of North American farms with plane loads of pesticides."

Zsolt Kerekes, editor wrongthingwrongplace - in the article - Final Spring in Novington Lane? (March 30, 2021).