Skip to main content

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

Neighbourhood Plan silent on housing needs
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 development within the settlement limit, subject to meeting a range of criteria.
  • Policy W2 restricts development in the countryside (i.e. outside the settlement limit).
  • Policy W3 supports the development of a minimum of 882 dwellings over the plan period at two sites.
  • Policy W4 supports windfall housing developments within the settlement development limit.
  • Policies W5 and W6 set requirements for housing mix and affordable housing, respectively.

The WNP's strategy for housing appears very clear - the majority of development should take place at  two identified sites, with additional windfall development within the settlement development limit. Development in the countryside is restricted. Unfortunately, this approach did not stand up in a recent appeal decision.

The appeal site is located outside the settlement development limit. The current Local Plan was adopted in 2005, covering a plan period to 2011. At the time of the appeal, North East Derbyshire Council had submitted a draft Local Plan for examination, but the Council and Inspector agreed this carried limited weight. 

The Inspector determined that the housing targets and certain policies in the Local Plan are out of date as they do not meet the district's current housing needs. This includes the Settlement Development Limits, which were intended to address development needs to 2011. The Wingerworth Settlement Development Limit was unchanged by the WNP. The Inspector notes that the Settlement Development Limits and the policies for housing are interlinked - as the housing targets are out of date, the Settlement Development Limits are therefore 'meaningless'.

In discussing the WNP and its 'weight' in determining the appeal, the Inspector concludes that: 
This plan makes no allocations and is therefore silent on housing needs. 
Whilst WNP policy W3 lends its support to the development of two major sites, it does not go as far as actually allocating those sites.

In the case of the WNP, the matter of addressing housing needs appears to have been reserved to the draft Local Plan. No identified housing requirement has been set for the WNP, and the WNP makes no site allocations. Consequently, the Settlement Development Limit carries little weight as it is unclear whether it provides sufficient land to meet housing needs.

To ensure your Neighbourhood Plan provides a robust approach to housing, it is therefore essential to first agree with your local authority the housing requirement your plan must meet. Secondly, your Neighbourhood Plan must set out policies to meet this housing requirement, including by making site allocations.

It can be risky to rely on an emerging Local Plan - plan-preparation could be delayed, or the Local Plan could become out-of-date in the context of the 'presumption in favour of sustainable development'. Your Neighbourhood Plan should stand 'on its own feet'.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Why the Middlewich Neighbourhood Plan failed

News that the Middlewich Neighbourhood Plan was rejected at referendum has spread rapidly across social media and has even been picked up by local and national press - see BBC article.

The story has garnered a lot of attention as it is highly unusual for a Neighbourhood Plan to be rejected. The Middlewich Neighbourhood Plan is only the third Neighbourhood Plan not to be supported by residents.

At the referendum held on 14 March 2019, the Neighbourhood Plan was rejected, albeit by a very slim margin of just 22 votes.
'No' Campaign Prior to the referendum, Labour town councillors led a campaign which encouraged local people to vote against the Neighbourhood Plan. 
Based on the literature shared by the campaign group, opposition to the Middlewich Neighbourhood Plan appears to be pointed at three key issues: Impacts on the town and its infrastructure of the overall scale of growth Middlewich is expected deliverDisagreement with the individual sites identified by the Neighbourhood …

Neighbourhood Plan Finder

Hundreds of Neighbourhood Plans have passed referendum and are being made across the country. It can therefore be tricky to keep track of which areas have plans in force.

All Things Neighbourhood Planning's Neighbourhood Plan Finder tool can help you quickly and simply locate Neighbourhood Plans.

Simply select a local authority area from the Neighbourhood Plan Finder to reveal a list of Neighbourhood Areas with made Neighbourhood Plans.

For groups writing Neighbourhood Plans, the Neighbourhood Plan Finder can help you to find other local examples of plans which have completed the process. The Finder will also help applicants and decision-makers to locate Neighbourhood Plans which may affect their proposals.

Try the Neighbourhood Plan Finder now.

Essential reading for Neighbourhood Planners

Through my site neighbourhood-planning.co.uk 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 neighbourhoodplanning.org 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 …