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.


Building better (as well as faster)

Report out today on the broken housing market and achieving the mystical 300,000 new homes every year.  One topic of interest was build quality – with Government and local authorities criticised for not doing enough to prevent poor build quality of new homes. 

Key recommendations were that the Government department (MCHLG) should set out how local authorities, developers, and other agencies will prevent, penalise and compensate for poor residential build quality.  The Department’s design guide should also be revised to define what a sufficient quality of final build should look like. 

The Royal Institute of British Architects made the point in their submission that the design skills in local planning authorities had been cut back too far, and whilst design review panels can help these are no substitute for a properly resourced planning system. 


Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Community Involvement - what Dorset says

Consultation on the draft Statement of Community Involvement has just started, with Dorset Council asking for feedback by 2 August. 

At just seven pages and fairly generous spacing, the question is, does it say enough?  In my experience the main issues raised by members of the public are not hearing about planning applications and the lack of officer support on neighbourhood plans.  I am not sure this Statement really addresses those questions clearly - the word "may" certainly appears at least 10 times!

So this is your chance to comment - what would you like them to actually say and stick to?