Saturday, 24 October 2015

A shiny, new Local Plan for West Dorset, Weymouth and Portland

The West Dorset, Weymouth and Portland Local Plan was finally adopted on15 October (at Weymouth and Portland) and 22 October (at West Dorset).  The new Plan replaces the previous Local Plans for each area, which no longer need to be referred to in planning decisions. 
The new Local Plan will cover the period to 2031, although an early review (by 2021) is anticipated to ensure there is sufficient ongoing supply of housing land.  This is critical, as without a robust housing land supply the Local Plan policies can be over-ruled.
It still amazes me how much time these plans take to get through the process.  Both Councils were working on draft plans, before taking the decision in 2011 to work together on a combined plan for the whole area.  The adoption comes 4 years on from the first public sessions on the issues and options, and the examination process took 2 years.  But at least, unlike some, the examiner concluded that the plan could be adopted.
This is good news for neighbourhood plan groups working in the area, who now have certainty on the over-riding strategy that their plans should align with. 
Alongside the Local Plan, the Community Infrastructure Levy has also been adopted.  However a date has yet to be set for when it will come into effect, and it certainly won’t be used until April 2016 at the earliest (whilst the various systems are put into place), and until then the Councils will rely on section 106 agreements to secure infrastructure funding where they can.
For more information visit the Council's planning policy pages