by Ed Dade
Posted on Sept. 10, 2019
This post provides a short summary of those Neighbourhood Plans which successfully passed referendum in August 2019, highlighting the elements which make each plan locally specific and unique.
August plans contained lessons in semantics; aspirations for "harmonious living" for those with specialist housing needs; support for rural enterprise through homes on the farm; biodiversity off-setting; and protection of essential local facilities - notably, the public toilet. August saw a plan which previously fell foul of the regulations finally find success; and several 'concise' plans pass referendum - the shortest containing just three policies.
The Broadwas and Cotheridge Neighbourhood Plan (BCNP) covers two parishes served by a single parish council, located in rural Worcestershire.
The BCNP details the types of development which will be acceptable in the countryside, allowing developments such as affordable housing, homes for rural workers, housing of exceptional design, and renewable and low carbon energy projects.
Specific 'key views' of the wider landscape are identified and indicated on a map. The BCNP requires new development to avoid harm to those views.
A detailed policy sets out criteria for the design which specifies the types of materials to be used when building new homes, whereas non-residential development can make use of a wider palette.
Specific local infrastructure projects are identified and prioritised for funding from developer contributions (such as s106 or CIL monies).
The Broadwindsor Neighbourhood Plan (BWNP) covers the parishes of Broadwindsor, Seaborough and Burstock.
The semantics used in the plan are clearly explained in the BWNP's introductory text. Namely the difference between "will" and "should". Where the plan's policies say a development will do something, this requirement must be satisfied. Where the policy says a development should do something, it is conceivable that in some exceptional circumstances it may not be possible to fully comply with the requirement. The interpretation of terms such as "will" and "should" in planning policies have been subject to some debate. By explaining how such terms are to be applied in the plan itself removes any ambiguity.
Important local landscape features are identified for protection, such as "open hilltops and dramatic hillforts", "narrow lanes with deep hedgebanks" and "locally distinctive building stones, imbuing distinctive local vernaculars".
The Neighbourhood Plan area enjoys some of the darkest skies in the country. To protect the dark skies, the BWNP ensures light pollution from new development is minimised.
Whilst many Neighbourhood Plans include Local Green Space designations, the BWNP's Local Green Spaces are accompanied by a clear description of the characteristics of each space. This helpfully explains why each space is of local importance. In addition, certain public rights of way and "wildlife corridors" are identified for protection.
The BWNP provides a table of guidance and photographs which together provide a clear description of the areas built character, including settlement pattern and layout, building types, scale and form, materials and architectural details. A thread running through all of these is the rural nature of the settlements, which have developed incrementally over many centuries, slowly evolving to changes in day-to-day living. This is a helpful addition and will help developers to design proposals which complement and reinforce the distinctive local character.
The BWNP makes numerous site allocations for housing and employment development, and sets criteria for the development of each site.
The Chirton and Conock Neighbourhood Plan (CCNP) contains just three policies. Whilst small in number, the policies tackle some big planning issues.
The first policy sets out a strategy for the housing development, requiring new development to provide 1 and 2 bed homes to meet local needs, and requiring developments of five or more dwellings to provide affordable housing. Self-build homes, energy efficient dwellings, conversion of farm buildings and the development of homes which provide opportunities for work are supported.
The CCNP's second policy explains how the parish council will spend its share of the Community Infrastructure Levy funding it receives from new development to assist with the creation of a new village hall or meeting place, sustainable transport improvements, off-road school parking, and improved recreational facilities.
The third and final policy requires new development to be designed in accordance with the Village Design Statement for the area, and to conserve the sensitive landscape setting and high-quality historic townscape of Chirton and Conock.
Crowan Parish is situated in the west of Cornwall and includes the settlements of Crowan, Leedstown, Nancegollan, Praze-an-Beeble and Townshend.
The Crowan Parish Neighbourhood Plan's (CPNP) design policy requires development proposals to adhere to the Cornwall Council Design Guide and meet the 'BREEAM' sustainability standard. The CPNP encourages development proposals to "create a safe environment for harmonious living".
The theme of "harmonious living" carries throughout the plan, with provision made for those who are vulnerable or with specialist needs. Proposals to build housing which meets the needs of the ageing population are supported.
According to a government report, a lack of public toilets results in certain groups feeling anxious about going out. Some older people, for example, may not readily leave their homes without the reassurance that they will have access to public toilets, which can lead to ill-health, with consequent burdens on the NHS. The CPNP supports proposals for the enhancement of existing, or development of new toilet facilities. The loss of existing toilet facilities will be resisted.
Proposals for development are encouraged not only to include measures to support sustainable transport measures such as electric vehicle charging points, but also to provide facilities for persons with special mobility requirements and impaired vision.
Development proposals that improve or increase education, health and social care provision for parish residents and visitors are supported.
The Hailey Neighbourhood Plan (HNP) uses a 'criteria-based' policy for the development of infill sites. In other words, proposals for small development within the existing built-up areas of the parish will be approved so long as they satisfy certain criteria and design principles.
Mature trees are protected by the HNP which requires proposals for new development to retain existing trees within sufficient space to allow them to be assets into the future. In addition, the planting of native tree species is encouraged.
The HNP indicates 'buffer zones' around villages within the parish, within which development proposals are required to respect the attractive setting and the separate identities of the various settlements.
The HNP designates a wide variety of open spaces for designation as Local Green Spaces, including recreation grounds, village greens, picnic areas, allotments, copses, woodlands, burial grounds, and rugby pitches.
The village of Haughley is has good provision of local services and is therefore expected to contribute to meeting the area's growth needs by the emerging Joint Local Plan. the overarching purpose of the Haughley Neighbourhood Plan (HNP) is to ensure such growth will not have a detrimental impact on historic and natural environment assets, infrastructure and the amenity of existing residents in the Neighbourhood Area.
The HNP makes several site allocations for new housing development, which once complete will exceed the housing requirement for the area identified by the emerging Joint Local Plan. The selection of sites was informed by a Site Assessment Report commissioned by the parish.
The HNP includes a number of policies which set out principles and criteria to shape the design of new development and ensure such development is accompanied by infrastructure and affordable housing. In addition, proposals are required to adhere to a separate Masterplanning and Design Guidelines Report which accompanies the HNP.
The Landulph Neighbourhood Plan (LdNP) is another concise plan, containing just four policies (whoever said you need loads of policies?).
Landulph parish is located in south east Cornwall in the 'Cornwall Gateway Community Network Area' area. Cornwall’s Local Plan apportions 1,500 dwellings to be delivered in the seven parishes that make up the rural area of Cornwall Gateway CNA - with Landulph's contribution being at least 20 additional homes. Policy 1 sets criteria to ensure this new development respects the parish's character.
Policy 2 seeks to maintain quality of life by reducing on-street parking. Policy 3 manages external lighting to limit light pollution in the night's sky.
Landulph's waterside location creates a unique environment and shapes the parish's heritage. Policy 4 ensures the parish's waterfronts, quays, beaches, slipways and pathways are conserved.
There are three overarching themes in Loose Neighbourhood Plan (LNP) developed from community consultation - 'Access & movement', 'Landscape Protection' and 'Design Quality'.
A range of access and movement issues are identified, and the LNP seeks improvements to the network of footpaths, footways and cycleways throughout the parish.
Protection is given to key views and an area of local landscape value, which are identified on a map. The local landscape is granted additional protection through a series of design principles which new development is expected to fulfil. A number of open spaces are designated as Local Green Spaces for protection from development.
The LNP requires developers to carry out assessments, including ecological surveys and flood surveys, and should influence the design of the scheme.
Principally, developments should be informed by the traditional architectural styles of the parish. In addition, the LNP encourages innovative modern designs where these are sensitive in scale and character.
The LNP includes a 'design checklist' which provides guidance on a range of design themes. Applicants are required to discuss each of the design themes in their Design & Access Statement which accompanies a planning application.
Cornwall's Local Plan apportions the area's housing requirement across its Neighbourhood Areas. Luxulyan's share of the housing requirement is 11 dwellings (to 2030), which the Luxulyan Neighbourhood Plan (LXNP) estimates it will exceed by 100%, delivering 22 dwellings over the plan period.
Affordable homes for discounted sale or rent which meet local needs are supported. Innovative approaches to providing low-cost housing such as self-build, modular off site construction, are encouraged.
The LXNP recognises the importance of providing housing on farms to help existing farms businesses to remain viable and family run, and to provide much-needed affordable accommodation for local people. The development of homes on farms by use of family members, for holiday letting, of for sale or rent to local people, are supported.
To ensure housing meets the needs of older people who may have limited mobility, new homes are encouraged to meet the 'accessible and adaptable' optional technical housing standard, set out in Part M4(2) of the Building Regulations.
To maintain the open character of the landscape setting between Luxulyan village and nearby hamlets, the LNP identifies a 'separation zone'. Development proposals are required to retain the open aspect of this important gap.
The Milborne St Andrew Neighbourhood Plan (MSANP) includes a similar lesson in semantics as the Broadwindsor Neighbourhood Plan, explaining that where a proposal “should” comply with certain policy requirements, if the applicant considers that there are good reasons why their proposal cannot meet the policy requirements, they should explain this as part of their application and show how they have aligned with that policy’s intention as far as possible.
The MSANP allocates sufficient land, together with other limited infill and rural conversion, to meet the projected housing need of about 2.8 dwellings per annum over the plan period. Development of unallocated greenfield sites outside the settlement boundary are resisted unless it can be demonstrated that there is a local need for additional housing that will not otherwise be met, or that sites’ development would deliver substantial community benefits to justify its release.
Certain forms of housing are prioritised, including starter and shared-ownership affordable homes suitable for single adults, couples and young families; and affordable homes for rent.
The MSANP proposes a community project to establish a Community Land Trust - a not-for-profit community-based organisation run by volunteers for the benefit of the community. The MSANP suggests the Community Land Trust could manage affordable homes constructed in the area.
To identify site allocations, a "Call for Sites" was held, through which landowners were invited to submit land to be considered for inclusion in the MSANP. Suggested sites were visited and assessed by the Neighbourhood Plan Group based on a range of criteria. Landowners of the highest-scoring sites presented their ideas at an open meeting. This assessment of sites informed the allocation of a site for the development of 32 new homes, retail units, workshops, and community buildings including a surgery and pre-school.
The village of Milborne St Andrew lies within the catchment of Poole Harbour, an internationally designated habitat. The MSANP identifies that the impact of increased sewage arising from new development on this protected site needs to be mitigated. To reduce environmental harm, the MSANP suggests 'nitrogen off-setting' - where land is taken out of nitrogen-intensive uses, such as intensive farming.
The Shilton Neighbourhood Plan's (SNP) first policy offers protection to an important community asset - the Rose and Crown pub, both in terms of its community function and its historic significance.
The SNP's design policy sets out locally-specific design criteria to ensure that new development reflects the form and style of the area, makes use of local materials, carefully manages external lighting, and protects key views and the setting of historic buildings.
Open spaces of local significance are granted protection from development through designation as Local Green Spaces. To protect the unique and separate identities of the villages of Shilton and Carterton, development which would result in 'coalescence' (i.e. merging together) is not supported.
The SNP identifies a network of existing green infrastructure assets comprising natural, amenity and public open spaces, and footpaths and bridleways, and identifies opportunities to enhance this network for the benefits of both biodiversity and human connectivity.
An overarching objective of the St Agnes Neighbourhood Plan (StANP) is to support improved access to health care for residents in the Parish and improve provision of facilities for those with disabilities.
To achieve this, the StANP supports the development of affordable homes on 'exception sites' i.e. sites not allocated for housing development. To meets the needs of older people, the plan supports the development of housing which is accessible and adaptable (constructed in accordance with Building Regulations Part M 4(2)).
In addition, the StANP's health and well-being policy offers general support for proposals to develop new, or to expand existing health and well-being facilities within the parish.
The StANP's 'Principle Residence' policy restricts the development of second homes. A planning condition or legal agreement will require that new homes will provide the occupant's main residence.
New development is encouraged to make provision for open space and recreation, with a specific local need for facilities for teenagers identified.
Much of the village of St Agnes and surrounding area is designated as a World Heritage Site (WHS), for the preservation of Cornwall's mining heritage. The StANP requires proposals which would impact on the Cornish Mining WHS to accord with Cornwall Council's WHS Management Plan and WHS Supplementary Planning Document. In addition, the StANP notes that beyond the WHS boundary there are attributes that are regarded as contributing to the setting of the WHS, particularly mine sites, mining settlements and mineworkers’ smallholdings. The StANP requires development proposals to assess their impacts on such features and ensure they will be safeguarded.
The StANP recognises that the area's historic features can provide opportunities for the future, and safeguards a former rail route for future use as a footpath and cycleway.
St Agnes is an attractive place for tourists and the StANP seeks to ensure that tourism is sustainable. Developments for tourism must respect the area's landscape, beaches, wildlife, heritage, culture and character. Proposals for new tourist accommodation should be accessible to the widest range of transport modes available in the area and be appropriate in scale and character to their setting and location, and should maintain a range of tourist accommodation types.
The Welsh Newton and Llanrothal Group Neighbourhood Plan (WNLGNP) has been a long time in the making, with the first submission examined in 2016. The Examiner the first submission Plan did not meet the Basic Conditions as it breached EU obligations relating to the Strategic Environmental Assessment process, and the plan was subsequently withdrawn by the Parish Council. The case of the WNLGNP highlights the challenges which neighbourhood plans can face in meeting the legal requirements.
The WNLGNP's first policy provides an extensive list of detailed criteria to ensure that development proposals protect and enhance local landscape character and preserve key views.
The plan strictly manages the development of agricultural worker's dwellings, ensuring such dwellings are tied to the farm in perpetuity without opportunity to remove this restriction. Such housing and ancillary buildings should use natural materials, such as timber, in order to blend into the surrounding rural environment.
Similarly proposals for home extensions in areas outside the settlement boundary are strictly managed, and only considered acceptable in exceptional circumstances.
The visual impacts of polytunnels are carefully managed. The WNLGNP requires proposals to take into consideration any adverse impact on locally significant landscapes, views and habitats.
Small scale conversion of former agricultural buildings to offices, workshops and other business type uses are supported to enable farm diversification and economic growth in the rural area. In addition, the WNLGNP includes two policies to support the development of renewable energy, including for small scale community-led proposals and for larger schemes, subject to overcoming adverse impacts on the landscape.
The Wymondley Parish Neighbourhood Plan (WPNP) includes a number of policies to support wildlife and increase biodiversity. The WPNP requires development proposals to be supported by a Biodiversity Action Plan, which includes measures to increase biodiversity, and by a Green Infrastructure plan to connect habitats and allow movement of wildlife around a development.
The WPNP encourages the use of a 'Biodiversity Impact Assessment Calculator' to quantify the biodiversity value of a site and calculate the measures required to offset the development's impacts. For further info, visit the Environment Bank's website.
The WPNP's 'Bats' policy expects bat corridors to be identified, protected and enhanced to support bat populations, and encourages development proposals to be supported by bat surveys. All suitable development is expected to include integrated bat and bird roosting devices within the fabric of the brickwork. On sites where protected species have been identified, proposals should avoid the adverse impacts of external lighting.
The WPNP's flood risk policy is notable as it requires all development within 12m of a watercourse to be supported by a Flood Risk Assessment.