Thursday, 19 September 2019

The FUNGAR project

Interesting to read about the research (a £2.5 million project funded by the European Commission) into the use of living fungi within the walls of your home to help monitor and regulate heating, lighting etc - the creation of a natural 'smart' home. 

Will it require a new breed of horticultural engineers to maintain these homes?

Ironically the first such designs may even qualify for the NPPF para 79 exception of being a truly outstanding or innovative' that means a can be built in isolated locations in the countryside  - which would be the least ecologically-friendly location.  However the first prototypes are planned for somewhere in Denmark and Italy.

Monday, 16 September 2019

Calling all landowners…

Both of the new planning authorities in Dorset are taking their first steps towards a new Local Plan for the two areas. 

Today, Dorset Council launched their ‘call for sites’ which runs until 25 October.  They are looking purely for sites for 10 or more dwellings, which may leave them looking for other ways to cover custom and self-build opportunities.

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole will be following suit shortly, after their Cabinet meeting last week discussed the timescales for preparing their plan and gave the go-ahead for a call for sites to be launched, which will similarly run for 6 weeks. 

No doubt many of the sites that are submitted will be those that have been previously considered and not made the grade in previous Local Plans, but it also provides an opportunity to identify other site options if landowners who have not previously responded pick up on the consultation. 

Friday, 9 August 2019

Two more Neighbourhood Plans through

Milborne St Andrew and Broadwindsor Neighbourhood Plans went to the polls yesterday.  Summer holidays and drizzly weather and may have slightly dampened turnouts but still very respectable. 
Both plans passed with good majorities.
In favour 
Milborne St Andrew 894  34.7%  281  29  90.6% 
31.2%  301  100  75.1% 

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Developers ruled "too late" to challenge a Neighbourhood Plan

Useful Appeal Court judgement on the timing of challenging Neighbourhood Plans through a Judicial Review published earlier this month.  The basic point, as far as I understand it, is that developers should not wait until the very end (when the Local Planning Authority 'make' the plan) to make a challenge, if the legal challenge could have been raised earlier in the process.  A sensible decision on the face of it - the key point (para 37) being that the basic intent of the legislation is "to enable claims to be brought straight away when the grievance in question arises; and prevent them being put off to a later stage of the process, or its end – thus avoiding the cost, disruption and uncertainty of challenges that could and should have been made sooner"

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Purbeck Local Plan Examination - Week 1

Certainly a busy week in Wareham for Inspector Ms Beverley Doward BSc BTP MRTPI.  This was the first week of the Local Plan examination hearing sessions, which sat for full days Tuesday through to Thursday and continued onto the Friday morning. 

Of particular interest to many will be the discussion on the housing numbers - as this is the first Local Plan tested following the end of the transition arrangements under the old NPPF.  A key issue was establishing the baseline - Purbeck District Council had used the 2016 year as the starting point for their calculations, but others felt either the 2018 or 2019 years should have been used.  Having looked at the NPPG wording, the Inspector indicated that she was minded to use the 2018 figures as the latest confirmed at the time of submission (in early 2019), with the 2017 affordability ratio (as published in March 2018) for the same reason.  Using these, the annual housing target will have to go up to at least 180 dwellings per annum (rather than 168dpa) with further consideration still to be given to whether there are exceptional circumstances to raise this further, including the likely shortfalls in Christchurch and the New Forest.

There was also a lot of debate around the sustainability appraisal and habitats regulations, and Green Belt release (particularly the large-scale release proposed at Morden Park, which has been included to facilitate a holiday park that in turn will enable a strategic SANG to be delivered and additional environmental improvements made within the park).

From a Neighbourhood Plan perspective there was a clear steer from the Inspector that the District Council should consider further which policies are truly strategic (rather than 'all') and how wording could be modified so that Neighbourhood Plans are not needlessly over-ridden or curtailed by the new Local Plan. 

The hearing sessions will resume in early August for a further week, focusing on the site allocations and the controversial 'small sites' policy that certainly received a lot of flack this week.  For more information the examination webpage is

Friday, 28 June 2019

Just over the county boundary...

The South Somerset Local Plan Review 2016-2036 Preferred Options Consultation (Regulation 18) has been published today, with consultation running from now to 18 September.

Its proposed housing target is based on the new Government methodology and the 2014-based household projections, so for South Somerset this means 716 dwellings per annum (no major difference from the 725dpa target in the adopted plan).

However the plan does include a change in the settlement hierarchy with a new class “village” identified, slotting in between rural centres and settlements.  Stoke sub Hamdon has been ‘down-graded’ from a rural centre to a village whilst 11 of the rural settlements have been ‘up-graded’, including places like Queen Camel, Sparkford and North Cadbury.  All of these “will” have provision made some development, with a target of 60 dwellings per village (in addition to the 120 dwellings already completed between 2016-2018 and 470 already permitted across the 12 villages).  Exactly how this growth will be managed is not clear, as no allocations or settlement boundaries are proposed, the plan simply states that “growth is expected to take place adjacent to the existing built settlement”

Lots more for those communities to digest over the coming weeks…

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Inclusive and age-friendly designs

Update to national planning guidance today - a new section on housing for older and disabled people.  It is not just the internal layouts (and therefore Building Regulations) that have a bearing on getting this right.  Points to remember include:

> Flexibility and space in the design and layouts;
> Entrances to buildings are clearly identified, so that they are easy to find, well lit and can be reached by a level or gently sloping approach;
> Parking spaces and setting down points in proximity to entrances;
> Landscaping schemes designed for ease and comfort of movement on foot and with mobility aids, with public spaces including step free spaces and seating.