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Showing posts from January, 2019

New NPPF now in effect for submitted plans

A new version of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was published in July 2018, replacing the previous version published in 2012.

The NPPF 2018 includes 'transitional arrangements' to avoid causing too much disruption for those who are in the advanced stages of plan making. Neighbourhood Plans (and Local Plans) submitted on or before 24 January 2019, will be examined against the old NPPF 2012 version.

If you are preparing to submit your Neighbourhood Plan for examination, from today onward you must ensure your plan has regard to the national policies contained in the new NPPF 2018, and not the previous version.

What does this mean for existing plans? The policies contained in the NPPF 2018 are 'material considerations', meaning they are a matter to be taken into account by the decision-maker when dealing with planning applications.

The NPPF 2018 explains that, for existing 'made' Neighbourhood Plans (and adopted Local Plans),  existing policies shoul…

How many new homes should a site deliver?

The number of homes allocated by Local and Neighbourhood Plans on individual development sites can be an emotive issue for local people, particularly where a development proposal differs from what the plan says.

At the plan-making stage, it can be quite tricky to estimate the number of homes a site can accommodate (the site's capacity). In addition to dwellings, a development proposal may include any number of other features which reduce the area of land available for development, such as public open space; Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDs); landscaping and planting; infrastructure, such as roads and utilities; and other land uses, such as employment, retail, etc. In addition, a site may be constrained by physical features such as topography, watercourses, infrastructure, habitats and geology.

The design and layout of a scheme will influence the number of homes the site can accommodate. Proposals for high-density flats and apartments will clearly deliver more homes than proposa…

Conflict with a Neighbourhood Plan & how to provide certainty on the location of development

Recently I wrote about two appeal decisions where planning permission was granted for housing development, despite the sites not being identified for development within the respective Neighbourhood Plans for the area. See Just how big is an infill site? Appeal decision: Chinnor, Oxfordshire and Review of Planning Appeal: The tricky task of planning for housing development (Wingerworth Neighbourhood Plan).

These examples, and other similar cases, raise a wider question about what constitutes 'conflict' with a Neighbourhood Plan.
A recent High Court ruling, issued in September 2018, has 'tested' this issue. The claim was lodged by Chichester District Council (CDC) against the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, and Beechcroft Ltd. The High Court decision is available to view on the BAILII website.
In this post, I have summarised the appeal decision and High Court decision, and conclude by offering some advice to ensure your Neighbourhood Plan p…

Latest stats show continued increase in house-building

Chart: All Things Neighbourhood Planning
Data source: Live tables on housebuilding: new build dwellings (Table 209), MHCLG

The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government has today published its latest data on house building in the United Kingdom. The graph shows the number of dwellings completed by financial year in England. Data is also available for the other home nations. However, Neighbourhood Planning is a feature of the English planning system only.

In 2017/18, there were more than 160,500 new homes constructed. - the highest rate of development since the financial crisis of 2007-08. As illustrated in the graph, the data shows a steady increase in number of homes built each year since the low-point of 2012-13, where less than 108,000 homes were built. 

The rate of development in 2017/18 is comparable to the period 2004 - 2006. Assuming this trend of increasing development rates continues into the current financial year, the number of homes constructed in 2018/19 could po…

Review of Planning Appeal: The tricky task of planning for housing development - Wingerworth Neighbourhood Plan

I previously posted about why it is important to include policies and site allocations for housing, in order to "presumption-proof" your Neighbourhood Plan. A recent planning appeal (APP/R1038/W/17/3192255), which resulted in the granting of planning permission for 180 homes at Wingerworth, Derbyshire, illustrates the importance of making provision for housing development in a Neighbourhood Plan.

North East Derbyshire Council ranks settlements in a hierarchy. Wingerworth is located firmly in the middle of the hierarchy as a "Settlement with good levels of sustainability", so presumably has some merits as a location for housing development.

The Wingerworth Neighbourhood Plan (WNP) successfully passed the referendum stage in June 2018. The WNP includes a number of policies which relate to the provision of housing development, for example:

Policy W1 defines a settlement development limit around the built area of Wingerworth village, offering in principle support to de…

Assessing your Neighbourhood Plan's effects on the environment: Conservation & Habitats Regs 2018

In response to a ruling by the European Court of Justice, new legislation has came into force in December 2018. This new legislation may affect how you should assess the environmental impacts of your Neighbourhood Plan.

Context All Neighbourhood Plans must be legally compliant and satisfy the basic conditions. The basic conditions require Neighbourhood Plans to be compatible with, and not breach, EU obligations, and must also satisfy other prescribed conditions.

The following directives are of particular significance to plan-making:
Directive 2001/42/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 June 2001Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora Directive 2001/42/EC (hereafter referred to as the "SEA regs") sets out a process for testing whether a plan will lead to harm to the environment. This process is known as Strategic Environmental Assessment - often abbreviated to "SEA".

Directive 92/43/EE…

Just how big is an infill site? Appeal decision: Chinnor, Oxfordshire

An appeal decision initially caught my eye due to its surprising interpretation of 'infill development' -  but also raises some concerning issues around how Neighbourhood Plan policies are applied during the decision-making process.

The appeal relates to an application for the construction of up to 140 dwellings, new public open space, associated landscaping and site infrastructure on a 3.9ha site at Chinnor, Oxfordshire. The application was made by Persimmon Homes and initially refused by South Oxfordshire District Council. The appeal was allowed, meaning the Planning Inspector went against the district council's decision grant planning permission for the scheme. Details of the appeal can be found using the following reference APP/Q3115/W/17/3187058. Neighbourhood Plan & Development Plan Chinnor is a large village in Oxfordshire. The Chinnor Neighbourhood Plan (CNP) was 'made' in October 2017. When the appeal commenced, the Neighbourhood Plan was less than one…

Essential reading for Neighbourhood Planners

Through my site I have attempted to explain the neighbourhood planning process, and provide regular blog posts on the latest issues affecting neighbourhood planning. But where can you go to find out more?

In this article I attempt to summarise where you should go for the most useful information and guidance, and where you can find funding and support for writing a Neighbourhood Plan.
Locality Toolkits and Guidance Locality administer the government's current programme of support for neighbourhood planning groups, and Locality's site should be your first port of call when writing a Neighbourhood Plan.
Locality has produced an excellent series of 'toolkits & guidance' on a range of issues to assist the preparation of neighbourhood plans. It is difficult to understate how valuable Locality's guides are for budding neighbourhood planners. Be sure you don't miss: The Neighbourhood Plans Roadmap 2018 by Dave …

2019 Neighbourhood Plan Challenge

The neighbourhood plan process is a rigorous one, with a number of steps and stages. Consequently it takes time to prepare a neighbourhood plan. In my last post, I shared a few tips on writing a Neighbourhood Plan expediently.

This got me thinking - what would a project plan look like if we wanted to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan by the end of 2019?

Here is my example of a project plan for writing a neighbourhood plan in just one year. I will assume that the necessary governance arrangements are in place, and you are ready to start writing the plan. Click the image to view a full screen version.

Example Project Plan for Neighbourhood Plan
The graphic shows that it is possible to reach the referendum stage in a year, whilst meeting all the legal requirements. Tasks carried out by the Parish Council (or working group) are shaded blue, with tasks carried out by the district council are shown in green.

The project plan highlights that the latter stages of the process, following submission o…

Top tips for writing a Neighbourhood Plan in 2019

Perhaps you are thinking of writing a Neighbourhood Plan in 2019, or perhaps you are wondering if it is possible to write a Neighbourhood Plan in just one year? The experience of many parish councils is that the process of preparing a Neighbourhood Plan can drag on for many years. Here are my top tips to get on with your plan and avoid becoming fatigued by the process!

Prepare a Project Plan and stick to it.Keep it simple - your plan should focus only on the key issues which matter to your community - a plan with just a handful of policies can be very effective. Avoid repeating stuff already in the Local Plan - your policies should go above and beyond what the Local Plan says, and not simply duplicate it.Communicate with your district council - keep them up to date with your progress, and discuss your draft policies to ensure you are on the right path and not in conflict with strategic issues.Don't bite off more than you can chew when it comes to community engagement and consultat…