PLANS have been approved to build 250 new homes every year on the South Downs National Park.

Members of the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA), which controls the park, confirmed its local plan for the next 14 years.

The authority set out plans to build 250 new houses every year in the National Park, but will seek to ensure any major development will be carbon neutral and limit water consumption.

SDNPA chairwoman Margaret Paren said: “This is a significant moment for the South Downs National Park and our local communities.

“Our adopted local plan puts our nationally important landscapes first and ensures that they sit at the heart of every planning decision we make.

“ But while our first priority is to conserve and enhance the landscape, this local plan goes one step further by clearly outlining how we will nurture a living, thriving landscape that benefits local people and looks to increase resilience to climate change.

“The exciting plan also sets out the high standards that all proposed development must meet to protect nature and the vital ecosystem services it gives us such as clean water, food and space to breathe.”

The authority will ensure growth is dispersed around the towns and villages of the national park, rather than just allowing growth around large towns like Lewes.

The plan aims to make sure at least 50 per cent of homes in developments of more than 11 houses are affordable.

But it also makes provisions to conserve important landscapes such as Woolmer Forest, north of Chichester, and the Sussex Heritage Coast, which stretches from Eastbourne to Seaford.

The plan promises to enhance “green corridors” which link up habitats and support wildlife, as well as promoting the planting of new trees and hedges.

But these conservation efforts will be balanced with the provision of more than ten hectares of employment land to support the rural economy.

The SDNPA still supports major developments such as the plans for Shoreham Cement Works and the North Street Quarter near Lewes.

Chairwoman Ms Paren said the plans were worked on by local communities and government planning inspectors.

She said:”The local plan includes over 50 neighbourhood plans developed by South Downs communities which provide local development management policies and allocate land for development.

“We are grateful to all those who spent so much time assisting us.”