Planning is a rather labyrinthine process, with many technical terms and a lot of jargon.
For those who are interested, I wanted to set out some detail about how the planning system works and what the current situation is for people in the East Hampshire District Council (EHDC) area. I should be clear, this is not an exhaustive guide to the whole planning process but rather a précis intended to give a flavour people who have never dealt with the system before.
I have included some information from both the GOV.uk and Planning Practice Guidance websites but more detail can be found online:
GOV.uk website - http://bit.ly/1qzpunr
Planning Practice Guidance website - http://bit.ly/16TXMqJ
I have also included some material from Cllr Guy Shepherd’s blog, Horndean Matters:http://horndeanmatters.com/
- What is the planning system?
- The Localism Act and Neighbourhood Planning
- The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)
- The Local Plan
- The Planning Process
- Appeals and the Planning Inspectorate
- The South Downs National Park (SDNP)
- The current situation in EHDC
- Some examples of applications which are already in progress
- Hazleton and Pyle farm
- What we can do in the future?
What is the planning system?
The official definition of the planning system is the ‘…process of managing the development of land and buildings…’1 in simple terms this means the set of rules which are used to decide who is allowed to build what and where they are allowed to do so.
Interestingly planning is one of the very few areas where the British people have accepted that it is necessary to allow over-arching central intervention in someone’s private affairs. By this I mean that the planning rules exist to limit what landowners can do with their private property (in this case land). I think we all understand and accept why this is the case and that it is done for the benefit of the whole community. Without such restrictions, it is not difficult to imagine what the country might come to look like.
This is reflected in the official ‘purpose’ of the planning process which is to ‘…save what is best of our heritage and improve the infrastructure upon which we depend for a civilised existence…’2 and enshrined in first the National Planning Policy Framework and then in Local Plans produced by councils of which there will be a great deal more to follow.
The point of the previous two paragraphs will become clearer as we progress but I am to offer a hint at this stage, it is to say that there has always been a counter-weight to this collectivist solution. In short, if there is to be central control of private assets then the rules say that it is only fair that there should be a published and updated rule-book to follow so everyone knows where they stand. These are the aforementioned Local Plans. Should a council not produce such a plan or keep it up to date there are consequences and the rules about what someone can apply to do and where change completely as we shall see.
Prior to the Coalition Government coming to power, planning was being increasingly centralised and driven by targets. Indeed, at the time of General Election in 2010 the planning system was largely regionally set out via the Regional Spatial Strategies (RSS).
These frameworks were designed to establish a ‘spatial’ vision and strategy specific to a region, for example identifying in general terms areas for development or regeneration for a period of about 20 years ahead. They also determined housing numbers for each area.
This all sounds very sensible, in theory. The problem with the RSS system in practice was that centrally driven targets and numbers take no account of local situations or local need. By the time of the announcement of the abolition in 2010, they were roundly criticised as being Whitehall impositions on local communities.
The Localism Act and Neighbourhood Planning
The 2010 Coalition Agreement set out plans to reform the planning system and to ‘…return decision-making powers on housing and planning to local councils…’3
It also went on to explain that local communities would be given far more ability to determine the shape of the places in which they live. This was based on the Conservative Party publication “Open Source Planning”4.
In November 2010, the first part of the radical overhaul was announced in the form of the Localism Bill (later the Localism Act5). The act centred around four key headings6, our discussion is only relevant for three:
- new freedoms and flexibilities for local government
- new rights and powers for communities and individuals
- reform to make the planning system more democratic and more effective
I think it would be useful if I briefly set out some of the measures contained in these areas:
New freedoms and flexibilities for local government
Local authorities are responsible for a number of important public services from roads and street lighting to planning and social care. The Localism Act sought to devolve as many powers and freedoms as possible to the ‘lowest practical level’7. This was felt to be the lowest level at which councillors are statutorily elected and cannot be appointed, the district council. In doing so, the stated intention was to push decision making as ‘…close to the people who are affected by the decisions, rather than distant from them…’8 and allow councils to respond to what people want.
Changes made in the Localism Act included a ‘general power of competence’9, clarification on the rules of pre-determination10 and greater local control over business rates11.
New rights and powers for communities and individuals
The Government also believed that power should, wherever possible be devolved even further to communities and to individuals. The Localism Act included a number of measures designed to give more of a say to local people. These include:
Reform to make the planning system more democratic and more effective
The Government felt that the planning system did not give members of the public enough influence over decisions that make a big difference to their lives. Regional planning and imposed targets from Whitehall did not give local people any say in how planning would work in their area.
Apart from the abolition of the Regional Spatial Strategies12 which I have already mentioned, the Localism Act created a number of other local planning tools:
Duty to co-operate
In many cases there are very strong reasons for neighbouring local authorities, or groups of authorities, to work together on planning issues in the interests of all their local residents. This might include working together on environmental issues (like flooding), public transport networks or major new retail parks. The Localism Act made it a requirement for local authorities and other public bodies to work together on planning issues in ways that reflect genuine shared interests and opportunities.
This is possibly the biggest headline measure in the Localism Act. The Act introduces a new right for communities to draw up a neighbourhood plan. This allows residents and businesses to come together through a local parish council or neighbourhood forum and say where they think new houses and businesses should be built and what they should look like.
The plans can be very simple or can be very detailed, it is entirely up to the local community. Communities are able to use neighbourhood planning to grant full or outline planning permission in areas where they most want to see development go ahead.
As long as a Neighbourhood Development Plan or Order is in line with national planning policy and with the strategic vision of the local authority, local people are able to vote on it in a referendum. If the plan is approved then the local authority will bring it into force.
I should just be clear, Neighbourhood Development Plans cannot be used to prevent all development in an area, they can only be used to allocate where the requisite number of houses should go.
Local authorities are required to provide technical advice and support for drawing up these plans which, once approved, form part of a council’s Local Plan.
Community right to build
Community right to build is part of neighbourhood planning. It allows communities to bring forward development proposals which (provided they meet certain criteria and have passed a local referendum) are able to go ahead without requiring a separate planning application.
The benefits of the development, such as the affordable housing or profits from lettings stay with and are managed for the benefit of the community.
The local plan set out what a community should look like in the future. It sets out where new houses and businesses should go in their area and what they will look like.
The Localism Act gave local planning authorities greater freedom to get on with this without undue interference from central government and limited the ways in which planning inspectors could change the text of local plans. The Act also removed much of the focus on reporting progress to central government which existed under the previous system.
Community consultation and enforcement
To further strengthen the role of local communities in planning, the Act introduces a new requirement for developers to consult local communities before submitting planning applications for certain developments. The Localism Act strengthened planning authorities’ powers to tackle abuses of the planning system, such as deliberately concealing new developments.
Reforming the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)
To allow communities to feel the benefits of new development in their neighbourhoods, local authorities are now allowed to require developers to pay a levy when they build new developments which the money going to support local infrastructure projects. This is called the community infrastructure levy (CIL).
Now, clearly some of what I have set-out above has no bearing on the planning situation in Horndean, Clanfield or Rowlands Castle. Nevertheless, I thought it was important to show the scale of the Localism Act and to highlight measures which may be interesting to residents in the future.
The National Planning Policy Framework
The Localism Act is the skeleton of the planning system while the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) provides the detail and explains how the system functions.
The NPPF was designed to set out the Government’s planning policies for England and explain how these are expected to be applied. It does so only to the extent that it is relevant, proportionate and necessary to do so. It does not take account every circumstance or possible local situation and deals only in broad-brush definitions.
The NPPF uses these to provide a framework within which local people and councils can produce their own distinctive local and neighbourhood plans, which reflect the needs and priorities of their communities.
It is also worth noting at this stage that this is also the back-up document which controls the assessment of applications if a council finds itself without a local plan.
The NPPF should be read in conjunction with other documents, such as the ‘Government’s Planning Policy for Traveller Sites’13 which go far beyond the scope of what is relevant to us and which I have therefore excluded.
Planning law requires that applications for planning permission must be determined in accordance with the development plans which could mean the Local Plan (which I will explain later) or the Neighbourhood Development Plan, which I covered earlier in my explanation of the Localism Act.
The rules and definitions set-out in the NPPF must be taken into account in the preparation of local and neighbourhood plans, and as a ‘material consideration’ in planning decisions.
The purpose of the planning system is to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development. The NPPF sets out a ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’14 this is the core or the ‘Golden Thread’ which runs through the whole document. But what is sustainable development?
International and national bodies have set out broad principles of sustainable development. Resolution 42/18715 of the United Nations General Assembly defined sustainable development as ‘…meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs…’
The UK Sustainable Development Strategy ‘Securing the Future’16 sets out five ‘guiding principles’ of sustainable development:
- Living within the planet’s environmental limits;
- Ensuring a strong, healthy and just society;
- Achieving a sustainable economy;
- Promoting good governance;
- Using sound science responsibly.
The five principles form the core of what is meant by sustainable development.
The policies in paragraphs 18 to 219 of the NPPF, taken as a whole, constitute the Government’s view of what sustainable development in England means in practice. The document explains that there are three ‘roles’ to sustainable development which are mutually dependent:
- An economic role – contributing to building a strong, responsive and competitive economy, by ensuring that sufficient land of the right type is available in the right places and at the right time to support growth and innovation; and by identifying and co-ordinating development requirements, including the provision of infrastructure.
- A social role – supporting strong, vibrant and healthy communities, by providing the supply of housing required to meet the needs of present and future generations; and by creating a high quality built environment, with accessible local services that reflect the community’s needs and support its health, social and cultural well-being.
- An environmental role – contributing to protecting and enhancing our natural, built and historic environment; and, as part of this, helping to improve biodiversity, use natural resources prudently, minimise waste and pollution, and mitigate and adapt to climate change including moving to a low carbon economy.
As I mentioned, the NPPF sets a presumption in favour of sustainable development, and ties this to a requirement that applications for planning permission must be determined in accordance with the development plan unless ‘material considerations’ indicate otherwise. This ‘golden thread’ at the heart of the NPPF running through both plan-making and decision-taking.
For plan-making this means that:
- Local planning authorities should positively seek opportunities to meet the development needs of their area.
- Local Plans should meet objectively assessed needs, with sufficient flexibility to adapt to rapid change.
These criteria apply unless the adverse impacts of following them would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits or specific policies in the NPPF indicate development should be restricted.
For decision-taking this means approving development proposals that accord with the development plan without delay.
Policies in Local Plans should follow the approach of the presumption in favour of sustainable development so that it is clear that development which is sustainable can be approved without delay.
However, and crucially for the EHDC area, it also means that when the development plan is absent, silent or relevant policies are out-of-date there should be a presumption of granting permission unless the adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits (when assessed against the policies in this Framework taken as a whole).
To assist in promoting the notion of sustainable development, the Government has created a set of 12 principles of land use which support this definition. These 12 principles are that planning should:
- Be genuinely plan-led, empowering local people to shape their surroundings, with succinct local and neighbourhood plans setting out a positive vision for the future of the area. Plans should be kept up-to-date, and be based on joint working and co-operation to address larger than local issues. They should provide a practical framework within which decisions on planning applications can be made with a high degree of predictability and efficiency.
- Not simply be about scrutiny, but instead be a creative exercise in finding ways to enhance and improve the places in which people live their lives.
- Proactively drive and support sustainable economic development to deliver the homes, business and industrial units, infrastructure and thriving local places that the country needs. Every effort should be made objectively to identify and then meet the housing, business and other development needs of an area, and respond positively to wider opportunities for growth. Plans should take account of market signals, such as land prices and housing affordability, and set out a clear strategy for allocating sufficient land which is suitable for development in their area, taking account of the needs of the residential and business communities.
- Always seek to secure high quality design and a good standard of amenity for all existing and future occupants of land and buildings.
- Take account of the different roles and character of different areas, promoting the vitality of our main urban areas, protecting the Green Belts around them, recognising the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside and supporting thriving rural communities within it.
- Support the transition to a low carbon future in a changing climate, taking full account of flood risk and coastal change, and encourage the re-use of existing resources, including conversion of existing buildings, and encourage the use of renewable resources (for example, by the development of renewable energy).
- Contribute to conserving and enhancing the natural environment and reducing pollution. Allocations of land for development should prefer land of lesser environmental value, where consistent with other policies in this framework.
- Encourage the effective use of land by reusing land that has been previously developed (brownfield land), provided that it is not of high environmental value.
- Promote mixed use developments, and encourage multiple benefits from the use of land in urban and rural areas, recognising that some open land can perform many functions (such as for wildlife, recreation, flood risk mitigation, carbon storage, or food production).
- Conserve heritage assets in a manner appropriate to their significance, so that they can be enjoyed for their contribution to the quality of life of this and future generations.
- Actively manage patterns of growth to make the fullest possible use of public transport, walking and cycling, and focus significant development in locations which are or can be made sustainable.
- Take account of and support local strategies to improve health, social and cultural wellbeing for all, and deliver sufficient community and cultural facilities and services to meet local needs.
I have included these in full because of their relevance to future planning applications in Horndean, Clanfield and Rowlands Castle. In order to be sustainable, any development either has to be included in the Local Plan or has to meet some of the criteria for land use set-out above without having an impact on the local area which is significantly damaging. Therefore logically if a development does disproportionately damage the local community it can be refused permission even when there is no Local Plan in place.
Specific policies in the NPPF
Aside from explaining the presumption in favour of sustainable development, the NPPF also contains a great deal more detail about specific aspects of the planning system. Rather than reproduce these in their entirety, I have included web-links to the relevant sections of the Planning Practice Guidance website. Anyone who is interested in a particular aspect of the NPPF can visit the section by clicking on the headings below.
1. Building a strong, competitive economy
2. Ensuring the vitality of town centres
3. Supporting a prosperous rural economy
4. Promoting sustainable transport
5. Supporting high quality communications infrastructure
6. Delivering a wide choice of high quality homes
7. Requiring good design
8. Promoting healthy communities
9. Protecting Green Belt land
10. Meeting the challenge of climate change, flooding and coastal change
11. Conserving and enhancing the natural environment
12. Conserving and enhancing the historic environment
13. Facilitating the sustainable use of minerals
The Local Plan
Local planning authorities must prepare a local plan which sets planning policies in their area. In effect, the local plan is a map which explains how many houses need to be built in each ward of a local authority and the sites in those wards where the allocated number of houses can be placed.
As a consequence, these plans are very important documents which take many months to prepare. Planning decisions must be taken in accordance with the plan (unless there are strong reasons why they shouldn’t).
Their importance means that draft local need to be scrutinised by independent planning inspectors before they are deemed ‘sound’ and formally adopted by the local authority.
Plans should be prepared with the objective of delivering sustainable development that reflects the visions, aspirations and needs of the local communities. They should also follow the principles set-out in the NPPF, including the presumption in favour of sustainable development.
Local Plans need to be both aspirational and realistic, a delicate balancing act for any council. They should set out the opportunities for development and clear policies on what will or will not be permitted and where. Only policies that provide a clear indication of how a decision maker should react to a development proposal should be included in the plan.
Content of the Local Plan
Local planning authorities use the Local Plan to set out the strategic priorities for their area.
This should include strategic policies to deliver:
- The homes and jobs needed in their area.
Local authorities prepare a document called a Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) to assess how many houses they need in each ward. This may include working with neighbouring authorities if a settlement sits on a boundary.
The SHMA also identifies the type of housing (bungalow, 1 bedroom house or flats for example) which is needed in each ward over the duration of the plan. This includes taking account of the amount of affordable housing required.
The document must make assumptions about the availability and suitability of land to meet the numbers of houses required.
- The provision of retail, leisure and other commercial development.
The Local Plan should set-out commercial need within a local authority area. This means working closely with the business community to understand how firms plan to develop in the years ahead. The document sets out the amount of commercial floor space which is needed and assess the growth of town centres.
- The provision of infrastructure
The document includes details about the quality and capacity of infrastructure for transport, water supply, wastewater and its treatment, energy (including heat), minerals telecommunications, utilities, waste, health, social care, education, flood risk and coastal change management, and its ability to meet forecast demands.
- The provision of health, security, community and other local facilities.
As well as houses, the Local Plan goes into specifics about the facilities which will be needed as communities develop. This means working with local health and education authorities to calculate local need.
- Conservation and enhancement of the natural and historic environment, including landscape.
Planning policies and decisions should be based on up-to-date information about the natural environment and other characteristics of the area. This should include an assessment of existing green spaces and ecology.
Local councils can achieve this through a number of environmental assessments, including Habitats Regulations, Strategic Flood Risk Assessment and assessments of the physical constraints on land use.
Local planning authorities should also have up-to-date evidence about the historic environment in their area and use it to assess the significance of important buildings and heritage sites.
Generally, the Local Plan will run for around 15 years. Housing targets and other plans are intended to be completed in that time-frame. For this reason, Local Plans are updated several times during their lifespan to reflect the most recent trends about an area.
Examination of the Local Plan
There are a strict set of criteria which the independent inspectors use to assess whether a plan is ‘sound’. During an examination, they consider whether the plan is:
- Positively prepared – the plan should be prepared based on a strategy which seeks to meet objectively assessed development and infrastructure requirements, including unmet requirements from neighbouring authorities where it is reasonable to do so and consistent with achieving sustainable development;
- Justified – the plan should be the most appropriate strategy, when considered against the reasonable alternatives, based on proportionate evidence;
- Effective – the plan should be deliverable over its period and based on effective joint working on cross-boundary strategic priorities; and
- Consistent with national policy – the plan should enable the delivery of sustainable development in accordance with the policies in the Framework.
The Local Plan is usually split into two parts which are adopted separately.
The first part can be seen as a sort of framework document which sets housing numbers for each settlement.
EHDC completed the first part of their plan earlier this year.
A copy of the Local Plan part 1 can be found here: http://bit.ly/1m7uCxy
The second part of the Local Plan sets out where housing should go. It identifies the sites which are most appropriate for development. It does so by completing a 'Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment' (SHLAA) which is then incorporated into the Local Plan (Part 2)
Details of EHDC SHLAA sites can be found here: http://bit.ly/1m7uH4p
EHDC does not currently have an adopted Local Plan (Part 2) and so sites are currently not allocated as they would be under an adopted plan. As a result, developers can bring forward any site which could be potentially used for housing. The council has to use the criteria contained in the NPPF when deciding on applications.
More detail about Local Plans can be found on the Planning Portal website here:http://bit.ly/1uOcXLc
5 Year Land Supply
The NPPF requires local planning authorities to identify and annually update a supply of specific deliverable sites to provide five years’ worth of housing against their total district housing requirement (contained in the Local plan (Part 1)) with an additional buffer of 5% to provide a realistic prospect of achieving the planned supply.
The five year housing land supply statement sets out the council's assessment of its supply of housing land over the next five years. Put simply, it identifies the sites which are going to be developed in the next five years.
If no five year land supply is in place, developers can bring forward applications for any potential site which will then have to be judged against the sustainability criteria contained in the NPPF.
The EHDC 5 year land supply has been calculated at 592 homes per year. Currently, the Council has not got a 5 year land supply but it is something officers and councillors are currently working hard to achieve.
The Planning Process
For many people, the planning process itself can be difficult to follow. It is a complicated series of mechanisms which have developed over the years. I have tried here to set out the various stages as simply as I can, to give those who have never approached the system before a better understanding of how a planning application progresses.
Most councils offer a ‘pre-app’ service to people who want to submit a proposal for development. Applicants can take a copy of their draft plans and meet with officers of the planning authority to discuss them prior to submitting them into the formal process.
This allows applicants to respond to suggestions and concerns raised by officers and make improvements before submitting them. It is also very useful in giving applicants a view of whether the potential development is likely to be acceptable.
Pre-app advice may incur a charge.
Submitting an application
Generally, an application can be submitted online, in person or by post. It is usually in the form of an application form and may include a number of drawings and maps of the site.
Once it has been received, the application is checked by a planning officer to make sure it conforms to the necessary format. It is also important to check whether anything is missing or whether further detail is required.
Once checked, the application will be registered as ‘valid’.
The date which the council receives all the necessary information to validate an application marks the starting point of the target period, by the end of which they aim to make a decision on the application.
Once an application is validated it will be allocated to a case officer. The council will then consult with neighbours and other interested parties. The council will allow at least 21 days for responses and will usually include:
- Individual letters to neighbours
- A site notice (usually orange and attached to a lamp post or other fixture near to the site)
- Press adverts
Anyone is entitled to submit comments on a current planning application regardless of whether or not they were personally consulted. Comments may be submitted online, by email or by post.
Once the consultation period has expired, the case officer will complete a full evaluation of the application and will make a recommendation about whether the application should be permitted on not (on the basis of planning policy and adherence to the Local Plan). When making their recommendation, officers will usually include:
- Observations from visiting the site
- Relevant planning policies contained in the council's Local Plan
- National and regional planning policies
- Comments received through the consultation process
- Design and layout
- External appearance and materials
- Impact on the amenities of neighbours
- Noise nuisance
- Traffic and parking issues
- Loss or increase of a particular type of use of land
Decisions reached in planning applications are either made under ‘delegated powers’ by officers or by the Planning Committee, a group of local councillors with planning expertise.
Under delegated powers, senior planning officers have the authority to make decisions to grant or refuse planning permission. These decisions are mostly on applications for smaller scale developments (such as alterations to houses).
The Planning Committee by contrast tends to consider applications for large scale developments, or controversial plans. Planning officers present reports and recommendations to the elected councillors who sit on the committee. It is these elected councillors who decide whether to grant or refuse planning permission for these applications.
Appeals and the Planning Inspectorate
If the council do decide to refuse permission the applicant who has been refused has the right to appeal to the independent Planning Inspector. It is quite right that this right of appeal exists because it allows redress to those who have been unfairly refused permission and ensures that there is oversight of the planning system.
Yes, it can be frustrating when a decision is refused by a council and then overturned by the inspector but it is necessary to ensure that an avenue of recourse exists for applicants who are unhappy.
There is no mechanism to appeal a planning permission through the inspectorate. This must be done through the courts via Judicial Review.
I have included the following web-links which contain a great deal more information about the Planning Inspectorate:
The Planning Inspectorate on the GOV.UK website: http://bit.ly/1m7nRvK
The Planning Inspectorate on the Planning Portal: http://bit.ly/1m7o5mB
The South Downs National Park (SDNP)
The South Downs National Park became the organisation with the statutory responsibility of writing Planning Policy for the National Park Area on the 1st of April 2011.
In practice it means that for areas inside the park, they replace EHDC as the local planning authority.
More details about the SDNP can be found on their website here: http://bit.ly/Xmqkaa
Horndean, Clanfield or Rowlands Castle are not part of the SDNP but they are adjacent to the park in many places. This has an impact on their development.
The current situation in EHDC
There is no doubt that we currently have a housing shortage in the South of England and we do need to build new homes. During the last few years, we have simply built too few houses.
With the economy now turning around and our current low interest rates there is a very high demand for property, particularly from first-time buyers. As a result, developers are rushing to secure permissions to build wherever they can.
EHDC currently does not have a Local Plan (Part 2) nor do they have a five year land supply. This means that the parts of EHDC outside of the SDNP (which has greater planning protections) are ‘low hanging fruit’ for developers. House builders are descending on Horndean, Clanfield and Rowlands Castle bringing forward applications for hundreds of new homes.
The problem we have is that the EHDC's Local Plan is dated 2001, updated in 2006. This has now expired, leaving EHDC without a valid Local Plan or a five year land supply.
Having met with officers at EHDC, I know this is something they are straining every sinew to get in place but it is going to take time.
In the absence of the five year land supply and an existing Local Plan planning officers, in assessing any application, have to base their recommendations on the tenets of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which allows development on the basis of 'sustainability'. The NPPF is the only document that will be given any real weight by officers and Inspectors in the absence of a valid Local Plan.
In effect, this allows developers to pitch any site in the EHDC area for development as long as they have a robust evidence base for its sustainability.
The good news is that by no means all the applications currently in train will pass this test.
It does mean that our strategy going forward needs to be three-fold:
- 1. Get the housing allocations documents that form the bulk of the next stage of the Local Plan process published and inspected by the Planning Inspectorate.
- 2. Grant five years of planning permissions in those areas where the majority of people feel that development should go (like Hazleton & Pyle farm) rather than where it should not (like the ribbon development behind Lovedean Lane).
- 3. Cogently argue that the sustainability criteria of any individually proposed site does not match the requirements of the NPPF.
A great deal has been done already towards these three aims. As I have mentioned already, officers at EHDC are working hard to complete both the Local Plan (Part 2) and the five year land supply. The best thing we can do is to allow them to complete this process as quickly as possible and to be sure that they are absolutely clear about the meaning of ‘sustainable development’.
To this end, I recently met with all eight District Councillors from Horndean, Clanfield and Rowlands Castle. The key conclusion we came to was that we need to better explain what is meant by sustainable or unsustainable development to combat applications by giving officers the tools to recommend refusal.
To that end, I have engaged an expert planning barrister who is going to come to Horndean in October for a planning summit and discuss what is meant by sustainability. The summit will be attended by councillors, officers and representatives of local groups.
There is now a good body of examples where developments have been rejected by councils in a similar situation. I have passed these to EHDC so that they can be used as precedent.
Councillors from Horndean, Clanfield and Rowlands Castle have also been working hard on this issue. The eight local councillors have been instrumental in securing a series of local consultations to gather early evidence about where local people thought housing should be located and this has resulted in the ‘Local Interim Planning Statement’ (LIPS) that has now become council policy which can be considered in planning decisions.
Details about the LIPS and what it means for Horndean, Clanfield and Rowlands Castle can be found on Cllr Guy Shepherd’s blog via the following web-link: http://bit.ly/XmL41B
Some examples of applications which are already in progress.
I have included below a number of links from the ‘Horndean Matters’ blog which discusses each of these applications in detail.
- Lovedean Lane, Southcott Homes - http://bit.ly/XmwV4s
- Lovedean Lane, Bargate Homes - http://bit.ly/XmxBqB
- Horndean, White Dirt Farm - http://bit.ly/Xmy7VE
- My objection to the White Dirt Farm application - http://bit.ly/Xmyu2x
- Clanfield, Chalk Hill Lane - http://bit.ly/Xmxb3D
Hazleton and Pyle farm
I have included a link to Cllr Guy Shepherd’s blog which details the planned application:http://bit.ly/XmSdz7
What we can do in the future?
As you will now appreciate, we find ourselves in a particularly difficult situation. Until EHDC can demonstrate the full five year land supply and have the second part of their Local Plan in place, we are still vulnerable to more unwanted planning applications.
Until both are completed, we must do what we can to fight off as many of these applications as possible with the tools we currently have.
As a community we must object to any planning applications which are clearly inappropriate for the area. Already, we have seen strong objections to Bargate and Southcott proposals in Lovedean Lane as well as White Dirt Farm and Blendworth Lane.
Does this mean we will always be successful? Of course not.
I think we are going to have to accept that some of the applications which we would prefer not to get permission will do so.
At the same time, the planning summit which we have organised should clarify in the minds of officers at EHDC the specific meaning of sustainable development.
This in turn will allow officers to make future recommendations to the Planning Committee with more confidence that their decisions will be upheld by the inspector. It will make it more likely that officers will recommend to refuse permission where it is reasonable to do so.
I hope this gives you some reassurance that everything possible is being done to tackle the issue of unsustainable development in Horndean, Clanfield and Rowlands Castle and I look forward to discussing this further with as many of you as possible at the public meeting on Friday October 17th.
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1. As defined on the Planning Portal: http://bit.ly/1nhrayS
3. The Coalition: our programme for government. (2010) Pg11 http://bit.ly/1nhza2Q
4. Open Source Planning (2009) http://bit.ly/1w5wLcq
5. Localism Act (2011) http://bit.ly/1w5xBpy
6. Localism Act - Plain English Guide http://bit.ly/1w5zToC
7. Ibid Pg 4.
8. Ibid Pg 4.
14. National Planning Policy Framework. Pg. 13 http://bit.ly/1ux1yRz