Here are some frequently asked questions regarding the draft local plan.
What is a local plan?
Local planning authorities must prepare a local plan. A local plan sets out the local planning policies for an area that will be used in considering whether or not to grant planning permission for all development.
A local plan identifies suitable sites for a variety of uses including housing, employment, retail, open spaces and more. They also set out policies on a variety of other issues such as economic regeneration, heritage and biodiversity.
Preparing local plans involves extensive consultation with stakeholders, including residents. They are also examined by independent planning inspectors before being approved – or what is generally called “adopted”. They are complex pieces of work and often take years to complete.
Why is the Council preparing a new local plan?
The Local Plan Core Strategy was adopted in November 2015 and provides strategic planning policies for the period to 2028. There are four reasons why the council is preparing a new local plan:
- to respond to new evidence on the need for homes and jobs;
- to meet the national requirement to review plans at least every five years;
- to update the council’s policies for determining planning applications, some of which were last updated in 2004; and
- to align our plan with the Leicester and Leicestershire Strategic Growth Plan.
What is the Leicester and Leicestershire Strategic Growth Plan?
The Strategic Growth Plan is an overarching plan which sets out the aspirations for delivering growth (housing, economic and infrastructure) in Leicester and Leicestershire until 2050. It has been prepared by local authorities in Leicestershire, including the borough council, and has been used to inform the draft local plan.
How can I make comments on the draft local plan?
We welcome comments on the draft plan during the consultation period which runs from Monday, November 4 to 5pm on Monday, December 16. We welcome comments on the draft plan during the consultation period which runs from Monday, November 4 to 5pm on Monday, December 16. We have prepared some advice and guidance on how to make comments.
We would encourage people who disagree with the proposals in the draft plan to provide reasons or evidence for their comments and suggest alternatives wherever possible.
What is the difference between the local plan and the core strategy?
The Charnwood Local Plan Core Strategy was adopted in November 2015 and provides a development strategy for the borough to 2028. The new local plan will provide an updated strategy to 2036 and contain new and updated policies that will, once adopted, replace the core strategy and the saved Borough of Charnwood Local Plan policies.
The core strategy allocated land for the development of three large Sustainable Urban Extensions (SUEs) (North East of Leicester at Thurmaston, West of Loughborough and North of Birstall). The new local plan will retain these allocations but also identify smaller housing sites to meet the borough’s housing needs. Making these allocations will ensure that this development is planned and happens in the most suitable locations.
How will local services and infrastructure cope with more growth?
When large-scale developments are given planning permission, developers are asked to either provide or make contributions towards local infrastructure and services. These could include new or improved roads, open spaces, community facilities or schools. Often developers make financial contributions towards local health services, police and education. These provisions or contributions are set out in Section 106 legal agreements.
Won’t building more houses increase the risk of flooding?
There are many reasons for flooding, including extreme weather, but the planning system is designed to address the risk of flooding in the following ways:
- There are very strict rules and laws in place within the planning system to ensure all new developments do not cause flooding problems and if anything, lower the risk of flooding
- For example, all new developments on greenfield sites are designed to ensure surface water run-off is the same or lower than the current land use
- On brownfield sites, new development and modern design will seek to lower flood risk
- Flood mitigation measures which are part of planning proposals are designed and approved by agencies responsible for flooding, mainly the Environment Agency and Leicestershire County Council as the Lead Local Flood Authority.
Why can’t we build on brownfield sites instead of greenfield ones?
There are a number of brownfield sites identified for housing development in the draft local plan. However, using evidence from a number of studies, we have found that there are not enough of these to meet all of the housing need that has been identified which means that allocations on greenfield sites are also proposed.
How have you chosen these sites for new housing and employment land?
The Council has used a thorough process to identify the proposed housing and employment land allocations set out in the draft Local Plan. Further details can be found in the Sustainability Appraisal Report that forms part of the consultation.
Why do we need to allocate more sites when the big sustainable urban extensions aren’t built yet?
The three sustainable urban extensions (North East of Leicester, West of Loughborough and North of Birstall) are expected to provide over 9,500 homes between now and the end of the new plan period. These sites will therefore meet a large proportion of our housing needs in the Borough during this period, however our evidence shows that this and other sites that have planning permission will not be sufficient to meet all our housing needs by 2036.
Where have the housing need numbers come from and why have they gone up?
The Council has used the nationally prescribed standard method for assessing local housing need. This is a method designed by the Government and which the Government expects councils to use unless there are exceptional circumstances.
The borough’s population is increasing with people living longer, birth rates exceeding death rates and more people moving into the borough than leaving it. Average life expectancy increased by an average of 8 years between 1971 and 2011. Changes to how people live their lives also affect the need for homes. For example, if more people live on their own rather than as couples or families this will change the number and types of homes that are needed. The housing need figure reflects those changes. The new local plan also covers the period to 2036 rather than the period to 2028 covered by the Core Strategy which means that additional housing needs for those eight years need to be met as part of this new plan.
Why are you planning for more houses than you need?
Each year the Council must demonstrate that it has planned or granted planning permission for enough houses to meet housing needs for the next five years. If it cannot then the control the Council has over where development is allowed is reduced and the borough is more exposed to development in unwanted areas. The draft local plan proposes to make allocations for 1,300 dwellings more than are needed to meet the borough’s needs. This provides flexibility to account for any unexpected issues with delivering sites and ensure there are enough homes in the pipeline to meet the borough’s needs and maintain the five-year housing land supply.
The document identifies an increased need for affordable housing. How is this being addressed?
The draft local plan proposes that 30% of homes should be affordable on housing developments of 10 houses or more. It also states that there would need to be clear justification to vary that level of provision.
You consulted about this last year so why are you are doing it again?
The Council follows good practice by giving the public and other interested parties the opportunity to comment at various stages in the development of the new local plan. The previous consultation considered the options that the Council could consider for the plan. This consultation puts forward the Council’s preferred options.
What were the results of the previous consultation and what have you done with them?
The comments received during the previous consultation and the Council’s responses to them have been published on the Council’s website. They can be found at www.charnwood.gov.uk/previous_local_plan_consultations. These have been used as part of the process of producing the draft local plan. The draft plan includes sections on how this was done in relation to the scale of housing (p18) and the preferred strategy for the location of development (p23).
Responses to the previous consultation confirmed the importance of issues such as ensuring infrastructure can support development, delivering a sustainable pattern of development, safeguarding the separation of villages, meeting the full range of housing needs, with matters such as climate change, increased traffic, reduced services and the need for housing likely to be increasingly a problem.
Consultation responses were also used to ensure that the draft local plan contained the right range of policies to ensure that the type and quality of development comes forward, and that local issues are addressed. (For example Houses in Multiple Occupation, Areas of Local Separation, policies on the River Soar and Charnwood Forest Regional Park).
What difference will my comments make and what will happen next?
The Council will consider all the comments it receives during the consultation carefully and provide a statement of how it is responding to each of them. It will then use those comments and additional evidence to update the plan ready for a further consultation in 2020. That consultation is required before the Council can submit the plan for examination by a Government inspector. The plan would need to be found to be sound by the inspector before it becomes part of the development plan for Charnwood.
Does a Neighbourhood Plan need to be in ‘conformity’ with the Draft Local Plan?
No, not until the draft local plan has been consulted on, examined and formally adopted by Charnwood Borough Council.
A neighbourhood plan needs to be in general conformity with the strategic policies in the adopted local plan. The adopted local plan for Charnwood continues to be made up of the Charnwood Local Plan Core Strategy and saved policies of the Borough of Charnwood Local Plan. Any emerging or adopted neighbourhood plans continue to need to be in conformity with these adopted policies.
The draft local plan will need to be tested through consultation and examination in public before it is adopted as part of the development plan. However, neighbourhood plans should be aware of any new evidence used to prepare the draft local plan which might supersede older evidence.
Does an adopted Neighbourhood Plan have the same legal status as the emerging Local Plan?
The draft local plan has not yet been adopted and at this moment in time has limited weight.
A ‘made’ neighbourhood plan is part of the development plan and therefore attains the same legal status as the adopted Local Plan Core Strategy. The draft local plan will only become part of the development plan once it is adopted by the Borough Council.
A neighbourhood plan is made once it has been approved at a referendum and adopted by the Borough Council as part of the development plan.
Can a Neighbourhood Plan come forward before the emerging Local Plan?
Yes, a neighbourhood plan can be developed before or at the same time as the Borough Council is preparing its local plan.
Whilst a draft neighbourhood plan is not tested against the policies in an emerging local plan the reasoning and evidence informing the emerging local plan process is likely to be relevant to the consideration of the basic conditions against which a neighbourhood plan is tested.
It is important for the local planning authority and neighbourhood plan group to work closely together to ensure that complementary neighbourhood and local plan policies are produced to avoid any conflicts. This is because section 38(5) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act requires that any conflict must be resolved in favour of the policy contained in the last document to become part of the development plan.
Will a Neighbourhood Plan need to be reviewed and updated when the draft Local Plan is adopted?
There is no requirement to review or update a neighbourhood plan. However, neighbourhood plan policies may become out of date if they conflict with policies in a local plan covering the neighbourhood area which is adopted after the making of the neighbourhood plan. In these instances, the more recent development plan policy takes precedence i.e. the local plan policy. This does not necessarily mean that the whole neighbourhood plan becomes out-of-date, but only those policies which are superseded by other development plan policies.
We have already allocated land for housing in our Neighbourhood Plan why do we need more development?
The Core Strategy covers the period 2011-2028 and seeks to deliver 13,940 homes and around 75 hectares of employment land. The emerging local plan will review and carry forward these commitments which will contribute to meeting the need for homes and jobs to 2036. Taking this into account, and the longer time period of the new draft local plan, land for around 7,250 extra homes is needed if we are to meet our housing need and maintain a five year supply. The draft local plan needs to respond to the latest evidence of housing needs which show that we are not planning for sufficient homes to meet the needs of our community.
Can our Neighbourhood Plan include sites that are not included in the list of sites in the draft Local Plan?
National guidance notes that it is possible for a neighbourhood plan to allocate additional sites to those in a local plan where it is supported by evidence to demonstrate need above that identified in the draft Local Plan.
Is it worth preparing a Neighbourhood Plan if the draft Local Plan, once adopted, can override it?
Yes it is still worthwhile considering preparing a neighbourhood plan. A local plan does not automatically override a neighbourhood plan once it is adopted; it depends on whether the neighbourhood plan policies are in conformity with the local plan policies and how up to date the neighbourhood plan policies are.
National guidance does confirm that the most recently adopted plan will take precedence in decision making. In the instance where there is an adopted neighbourhood plan already in place it may mean that only one or two policies in the neighbourhood plan need updating to be in conformity with the local plan.
National guidance does afford some protection to areas with an adopted neighbourhood plan as long as the plan allocates sites for development and is less than two years old. The plan must also satisfy all the criteria set out in Paragraph 14 of the National Planning Policy Framework.
To ensure that neighbourhood plans remain as up-to-date as possible, national guidance recommends that neighbourhood plan groups should consider providing indicative delivery timetables, and allocating reserve sites to ensure that emerging evidence of housing need is addressed. This can help minimise potential conflicts and ensure that policies in the neighbourhood plan are not overridden by a new local plan.
In what ways can an adopted Neighbourhood Plan be changed?
There are 3 types of modification which can be made to an adopted neighbourhood plan. The process will depend on the degree of change which the modification involves:
- Minor (non-material) modifications to a neighbourhood plan are those which would not materially affect the policies in the plan or permission granted by the plan. These may include correcting errors, such as a reference to a supporting document, and would not require examination or a referendum.
- Material modifications which do not change the nature of the plan would require examination but not a referendum. This might, for example, entail the addition of a design code that builds on a pre-existing design policy, or the addition of a site or sites which, subject to the decision of the independent examiner, are not so significant or substantial as to change the nature of the plan.
- Material modifications which do change the nature of the plan would require examination and a referendum. This might, for example, involve allocating significant new sites for development.
Last updated: Wed 13th November, 2019 @ 10:22