Brinsbury Centre of Rural Excellence SPD

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW

Introduction

1.1 This Supplementary Planning Document sets out the Council’s guidelines and vision for the potential future development to support the financial and educational viability of Chichester College’s Brinsbury Campus. The overarching aim for the Brinsbury Campus is for it to become a Centre of Rural Excellence for rural land-based education, as set out in Policy AL 15 of the Site Specific Allocations of Land (2007) DPD, and this Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) guides and manages the manner in which any development would take place.

1.2 Brinsbury Campus is a location where the development of new and/or extended uses which may include new buildings relating to the rural, land-based nature of the College, may be acceptable in pursuit of the objective of creating a Centre of Rural Excellence.  The intention is to enable the College to develop its facilities in order to ensure the Campus' viability for rural land-based education.  Growth of the College in accordance with this principle, which could include businesses operating in collaboration with the College, would increase opportunities for education and training. Developing the Brinsbury Campus as a Centre of Rural Excellence would facilitate considerable gains for the College in the form of vocational training for students.

1.3 Brinsbury Campus has therefore been identified as a location that would benefit from the production of a detailed planning brief, which would explore the opportunities to address shortcomings and make for a more financially viable Further Education facility.

1.4 The document is published as a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) and provides more intricate site-specific detail behind the current Development Plan Documents and strategic policy as set out in the Local Development Framework.

Development Plan Policy

1.5 The SPD provides detailed site-specific planning guidance, which is informed by development plan policy, nationally, regionally and locally. National planning policies, determined by the government department ‘Communities’ are set out in new-style Planning Policy Statements (PPS), which are gradually replacing Planning Policy Guidance notes (PPG). These statements inform regional and local policies and set out overarching national guidance on planning issues.

1.6 Regional Policy is set out by Regional Planning bodies in the shape of Regional Spatial Strategies (RSS).  In the South East the ‘South East Plan’ is the region's RSS and it provides a strategy for the region as a whole for the period to 2026 and sets aims and objectives for local planning authorities.  The RSS replaces the Old Regional Planning Guidance (RPG) and County Structure Plans.

1.7 At local level the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act (2004) requires District Councils to gradually replace their Local Plans with Local Development Frameworks (LDFs).  The LDF comprises a series of Local Development Documents (LDDs) which include Development Plan Documents (DPDs) such as the Core Strategy, the General Development Control Policies and SPDs. The SPD sits within the Local Development Framework as a supporting document that supplements the DPDs and is a material consideration in the development planning process. It should read in conjunction with these other documents as explained further in paragraph 4.3.

1.8 To ensure that each document has considered sustainable development, it has been subject to a process known as Sustainability Appraisal. This process examines each document, measures how it will contribute to sustainable development, and suggests how each document could be improved to make each document as sustainable as possible. The process of Sustainability Appraisal also incorporates the requirements of Strategic Environmental Assessment, in accordance with European Legislation. A Sustainability Appraisal / Strategic Environmental Assessment (SA/SEA) has therefore been undertaken in conjunction with the preparation of the SPD.

Supplementary Planning Document Preparation Process

1.9 The Draft SPD was prepared by Horsham District Council and was published in accordance with PPS 12 - Local Spatial Planning. The Draft SPD was subject to a six week public and stakeholder consultation, the results of which were taken into account in the preparation of this final document. A summary of the comments received and the responses to them are included in a Consultation Statement, which has been published alongside this report and can be viewed at www.horsham.gov.uk/strategic_planning.

Site Information

1.10 Brinsbury Campus is set in an estate of 250 hectares that straddles the A29 (Stane Street), between Billingshurst and Pulborough (see Map 1 below). Both towns have a train station which provides north/south rail access and both relate well to the surrounding road network, particularly in east/west directions.

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Map 1: Location of Brinsbury Campus (Popup full image) 

1.11 There are no major environmental constraints relating to the site, although a small element of the south-western edge of the built form of the Campus is within Flood Risk Zones 2&3. There is also an SNCI (SNCIH66) approximately 150 metres to the north-west of the built area of the site.

1.12 The Brinsbury Campus is a major rural land-use educational establishment and has an important local and sub-regional role in providing further education and training in agricultural and land-based qualifications. Its current facilities include a commercial farm with cattle, sheep, pigs and arable enterprise, a thriving vineyard, a conference centre, a restaurant and shop, greenhouses (commercial horticulture is concerned with crop production and includes protected cropping, hardy nursery stock and fruit and vegetable production). The College is a Centre of Vocational Excellence in a number of areas including Rural Business Management Training, Horticulture and Rural Construction and is looking to develop its 'Excellence' package further. This enables the Campus to provide an educational opportunity that supports not only those in further education, but also the rural District and the wider rural economy.

1.13 However, the Campus has many buildings that are either ill-suited for educational purposes and/or in a poor state of repair. Indeed, there are several issues relating to the layout and day to day functioning of the site that need to be addressed, which include a lack of coherent and rationalised car parking areas with no clear pedestrian/ vehicle hierarchy. Without any enhancement and/or replacement of these buildings and addressing the Campus’ issues, the educational future of the Campus itself would be doubtful as the numbers of students would fall and future of the campus put in jeopardy.

Objectives

1.14 The SPD assesses the opportunities for the provision of Development Partners at the Brinsbury Campus and, where appropriate, the land controlled by the College in order to support its financial and educational viability and secure its future as a Centre of Rural Excellence for rural land-based education.

1.15 The main objective of the SPD is to set out the need assessment tests for suitable supporting developments on the site.  This is in response to the Inspectors’ Report on the Examination into the Site Specific Allocations of Land Development Plan Document, which recognised that there is a need for the College to diversify and expand in order to stay financially viable and this could be achieved through a specific rural initiative.  The Inspectors’ Report did however state that a separate SPD is needed which sets out clearly the types of development which would be suitable and viable (both financially and educationally) on the site.

1.16 The growth of the College to secure its future could include businesses operating in collaboration with the college in order to increase education and training.  The first step however is to set out robust criteria for assessing development proposals on the site and the contribution they will make to securing the financial and educational viability of the college.

1.17 The SPD is focused on the assessment of the potential to locate ‘Development Partners’ at the campus, and not on the wider rationalisation of the educational facilities itself, which will the subject of a separate planning application and will be considered separately.