Withdrawal of the Site Allocations
Since consultation on the Preferred Options stage of the plan in February and March 2014 there has been a great deal of debate both locally and nationally about the progress of site allocations documents.
One of the core objectives of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is to ensure local planning authorities meet the full, objectively assessed housing needs for their area through Local Plans. Recent appeal decisions and plan examination outcomes elsewhere in the country have strengthened this point significantly and underlined the importance of an up to date evidence base. Decisions are now consistently pointing to the fact that reliance on Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) derived figures is no longer likely to be considered acceptable. This is important because the SADPD is based on the Core Strategy which was adopted prior to the introduction of the NPPF and is based on the previous RSS targets.
Many local planning authorities are now finding it difficult to progress their plans and a number have been advised to review their Site Allocation documents in recent months, including our neighbours, Doncaster, who resolved to withdraw their plan in September. Indeed Government figures show that nationally less than 25 Site Allocations documents have been adopted since the introduction of the NPPF in March 2012.
In February 2014 there was an important appeal decision relating to a site in the village of Beckingham, where the Inspector concluded that Bassetlaw District Council had an insufficient supply of deliverable housing sites to meet targets for the next five years. This decision is important as the existence of a five year housing land supply is an important material consideration that the Council must take into account when determining applications in the future.
Taking account of these issues it is clear that it is not appropriate to progress with the SADPD in its current form. As a result, at the 3 December Cabinet meeting, the Council took the decision to withdraw the SADPD and commence with the preparation of a new Local Plan.
During this period of plan preparation the Council must continue to determine planning applications. Decisions on applications will be made in accordance with relevant policies in the NPPF and the adopted Core Strategy. However, in relation to housing delivery matters, the North Derbyshire and Bassetlaw Strategic Housing Market Assessment (November 2013) provides more up-to-date information on the district’s objectively assessed housing need, therefore facilitating better evidenced planning decisions. This will be supported by an ongoing and regular review of the Council’s housing land supply, prepared by Officers through a Five Year Housing Land Supply Statement, the first version of which was published in August 2014.
Consultees should be aware that while the sites identified in the SADPD Preferred Options paper will not be formally allocated, it remains possible that some of these, and other sites in sustainable locations, may nevertheless come forward as planning applications. Some of these may be outside but adjoining existing development boundaries. The Council will determine such applications in line with the matters set out above.
Furthermore, it is important that local communities are able to progress work on emerging Neighbourhood Plans. This will be done by reference to the strategic context set out by the Core Strategy until it is eventually superseded by the replacement Local Plan. It is particularly important to note that any adopted Neighbourhood Plans will become part of the development plan and will therefore carry significant weight in determining planning applications.
Further information on all of the above is available on the Planning Policy web pages and if you have any specific queries, please feel free to contact members of the Planning Policy team on 01909 533495.