LETTER TO PARISHIONERS

A Commonsense Neighbourhood Development Plan for Burghill Parish

Note: this is NOT the 'official' Burghill Parish Council website.

NEIGHBOURHOOD PLANNING PROCESS AS IT WAS INTENDED TO BE

& A GLOSSARY OF RELEVANT PLANNING TERMS

THE (NORMAL) NEIGHBOURHOOD PLANNING PROCESS:

1. A decision is made to have a Neighbourhood Plan

(in the case of the Burghill Area NDP, this was decided by Burghill Parish Council and the NP Area was designated in September 2013).

(As at 21 Sept 2017, 49 NDPs* were still in preparation in Herefordshire)

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2. Evidence gathering by a Steering Group on behalf of a Parish Council, and Consultation with the community through Community Engagement.

(in the case of the Burghill Area NDP this consisted of a Questionnaire returned in May 2014, Sites submitted by landowners, and 'Options Days' on a Saturday and Sunday in November 2014)

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3. Production of a Pre-submission Draft Plan (Regulation 14), which is consulted on for 6 weeks by the Parish Council, with feedback from the community and developers supposed to be taken into account.

(in the case of the Burghill Area NDP the 'Regulation 14' Draft Plan 'Consultation' was based on its publication on the Parish Council website between 20 January 2016 & 11 March 2016. The reason for it being extended was because they had omitted to publish a Sites Assessment Consultation which had been done in September 2015, and this was not made public until 17 February 2016, 4 weeks after the regulation 14 'Consultation had started!)

(As at 21 Sept 2017, 16 NDPs* were still at this 'Regulation 14' stage in Herefordshire)

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4. Community Engagement

(in the case of the Burghill Area NDP there was no meaningful re-engagement with the community between the 'Regulation 14' and 'Regulation 16' stages.)

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5. Production of a Submission Draft Plan (Regulation 16), which is consulted on for 6 weeks by the Local Planning Authority, with feedback from the community and developers supposed to be taken into account.

(in the case of the Burghill Area NDP the 'Regulation 16' Draft Plan 'Consultation' was based on its publication on the Herefordshire Council website between 13 July 2016 & 24 August 2016. Herefordshire Council produced a Progression to Examination Report (extract here) which decided that due to 'sufficient deficiencies' the Plan should not be sent for examination due to concern regarding consultation and deliverability of sites. It 'highly recommended' community involvement prior to resubmission of the plan and a review to ascertain deliverability of proposed allocation sites should it be evidenced that sites allocations cannot be achieved due to constraints.)

(As at 21 Sept 2017, just 2 NDPs* were still at this 'Regulation 16' stage in Herefordshire - Leominster and Burghill. The others had smoothly progressed to the next stages)

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6. Approval of the Submission Draft Plan which is passed on by the Local Planning Authority to an Independent Examiner

(As at 21 Sept 2017, 9 NDPs* had been submitted for, and were awaiting Examination in Herefordshire)

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7. Referendum of the Parish Electors

(As at 21 Sept 2017, 7 NDPs* were awaiting Referendum in Herefordshire)

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8. Adoption by the Local Planning Authority

(As at 21 Sept 2017, 25 NDPs* had passed Referendum and been adopted in Herefordshire)

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*Data from Herefordshire Council Map https://myaccount.herefordshire.gov.uk/media/8061206/neighbourhood_plans_in_herefordshire_map.pdf

 

(Note: The Burghill Neighbourhood Plan has been stuck at stage 5 above for a year now due to 'sufficient deficiencies' meaning that the Plan should not be sent for examination due to concern regarding consultation and deliverability of sites. Herefordshire Council 'highly recommended' community involvement prior to resubmission of the plan and a review to ascertain deliverability of proposed allocation sites should it be evidenced that sites allocations cannot be achieved due to constraints. Quite why this has taken over a whole year, and the 'community involvement' has been limited only to commenting on lengthy sites assessment reports, remains a mystery.

Even the Planning Consultants said belatedly in April 2017, in a letter to the Parish Council:

"Community Consultation

An important part in the process is consultation, and ensuring the plan is fully community-led. Given the significant comments received at Regulation 14 and again at Regulation 16, and the sustainable settlements issue, I would strongly suggest there is a second Regulation 14 consultation undertaken by the Parish Council, ensuring all relevant evidence documents are available for public view and on the website. This would give the community opportunity to comment on the changes made in an open way."

Yet rather than taking regard of that 'strong suggestion', and fully re-consulting, the Parish Council has just ignored it.)

 

SOME PLANNING JARGON RELATED TO NEIGHBOURHOOD PLANNING

Unfortunately some planners (not all) delight in using planning jargon:

ADOPTION - The final confirmation of a development plan by a local planning authority.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING - Social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing, provided to eligible households whose needs are not met by the market. Eligibility is determined with regard to local incomes and local house prices. Affordable housing should include provisions to remain at an affordable price for future eligible households or for the subsidy to be recycled for alternative affordable housing provision.

In rural Herefordshire, Herefordshire Council's policy is that where a private developer builds six or more units, then approximately 35 per cent or the total being built is to be affordable.

Note that in Burghill Parish, the last Affordable Housing Needs survey identified a requirement for 14 affordable homes. The Planning Permissions at Pyefinch and at junction of Roman Road and Tillington Road include 25 affordable homes so the demand is exceeded.

BIODIVERSITY - The degree of variation of lifeforms within a particular ecosystem. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of an ecosystem. Human activity generally tends to damage biodiversity, so special measures often need to be taken to offset the impact of development on natural habitats.

BROWNFIELD LAND - Land that has been previously developed, but not including previous agricultural use.

(On occasion, Legal Agreements (such as 'Section 52' or 'Section 106' agreements) exist on parcels of land. If they restrict the use of the land, for example prohibiting storage of motor vehicles or parts, it is clearly not possible (or correct) for such land to be claimed to be 'brownfield' when it is not!)

COMMUNITY - A group of people that who hold something in common. They could share a common place (e.g. individual neighbourhood) a common interest (e.g. interest in the environment) a common identity (e.g. age) or a common need (e.g. a particular service focus).

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND INVOLVEMENT - Involving the local community in the decisions that are made regarding their area.

From the National Planning Practice Guidance (definition below):

"What is the role of the wider community in neighbourhood planning?
      A qualifying body should be inclusive and open in the preparation of its neighbourhood plan or Order and ensure that the wider community:
      • is kept fully informed of what is being proposed
      • is able to make their views known throughout the process
      • has opportunities to be actively involved in shaping the emerging neighbourhood plan or Order
      • is made aware of how their views have informed the draft neighbourhood plan or Order."

CONSULTATION - A communication process with the local community that informs planning decision-making

CORE STRATEGY - A development plan document forming part of a local authority's Local Plan, which sets out a vision and core policies for the development of an area.

DEVELOPMENT - Legal definition is "the carrying out of building, mining, engineering or other operations in, on, under or over land, and the making of any material change in the use of buildings or other land."

EVIDENCE BASE -The evidence upon which a development plan is based, principally the background facts and statistics about an area, and the views of stakeholders.

GREENFIELD SITE - Land where there has been no previous development

GREEN SPACE - Those parts of an area which are occupied by natural, designed or agricultural landscape as opposed to built development; open space, parkland, woodland, sports fields, gardens, allotments, and the like. Paragraph 77 of the National Planning Policy Framework says that the Local Green Space designation will not be appropriate for most green areas or open space; and that the designation should only be used where the green area is demonstrably special to a local community.

INDEPENDENT EXAMINATION - An examination of a proposed neighbourhood plan, carried out by an independent person, set up to consider whether a neighbourhood plan meets the basic conditions required. (NB among other things, Basic Conditions require that it is evidenced that the wider community has been genuinely consulted on and engaged with, and that allocated sites are actually deliverable)

JUDICIAL REVIEW - Legal challenge of a planning decision, to consider whether it has been made in a proper and lawful manner.

LOCAL AUTHORITY - The administrative body that governs local services such as education, planning and social services, i.e. Herefordshire Council

LOCAL REFERENDUM - A direct vote in which communities will be asked either to accept or reject a particular proposal.

MATERIAL CONSIDERATIONS - Factors which are relevant in the making of planning decisions, such as sustainability, impact on residential amenity, design and traffic impacts. There is a useful guide here: http://www.rtpi.org.uk/media/686895/Material-Planning-Considerations.pdf

NATIONAL PLANNING POLICY FRAMEWORK - The government policy document adopted in March 2012 intended to make national planning policy and guidance less complex and more accessible. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) introduced a presumption in favour of sustainable development. It gives five guiding principles of sustainable development: living within the planet's means; ensuring a strong, healthy and just society; achieving a sustainable economy; promoting good governance; and using sound science responsibly.

NATIONAL PLANNING PRACTICE GUIDANCE - the NPPG provides explanatory guidance in an attempt to interpret and apply the National Planning Policy Framework https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/planning-practice-guidance#planning-practice-guidance-categories

NEIGHBOURHOOD AREA - The local area in which a neighbourhood plan or Neighbourhood Development Order can be introduced. In this case, Burghill Parish.

NEIGHBOURHOOD DEVELOPMENT ORDER - An order introduced by a parish or town council, or a neighbourhood forum, as part of the neighbourhood planning process, which grants planning permission for a specific development or type of development that will fulfill the vision and policies of the neighbourhood plan for the neighbourhood area.

NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN - A planning document created by a parish or town council or a neighbourhood forum, which sets out vision for the neighbourhood area, and contains policies for the development and use of land in the area. Neighbourhood plans must be subjected to an independent examination to confirm that they meet legal requirements, and then to a local referendum. If approved by a majority vote of the local community, the neighbourhood plan will then form part of the statutory development plan.

NEIGHBOURHOOD PLANNING - A community-initiated process in which people get together through a local forum or parish or town council and produce a plan for their neighbourhood setting out policies and proposals for the development they wish to see in their area.

PLANNING GAIN - The increase in value of land resulting from the granting of planning permission. This value mainly accrues to the owner of the land, but sometimes the local council negotiates with the developer to secure benefit to the public, either through Section 106 Planning Obligations or the setting of a Community Infrastructure Levy.

PLANNING PERMISSION IN PRINCIPLE - this was introduced in 2016. Allocated sites in a Neighbourhood Plan gain the status of 'Planning Permission in Principle'. This means that once included, and the Plan has been examined, passed referendum, and adopted, sites in it gain planning permission, subject only to Technical Details approval.

For a community, it is therefore vital that sites have been properly consulted on and that it has been fully informed, because once allocated in the Plan, such sites are just one step away (technical details approval by Herefordshire Council) from being built.

PRESUMPTION IN FAVOUR OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT - The concept introduced in 2012 by the UK government with the National Planning Policy Framework to be the 'golden thread running through both plan making and decision taking'. The NPPF gives five guiding principles of sustainable development: living within the planet's means; ensuring a strong, healthy and just society; achieving a sustainable economy; promoting good governance; and using sound science responsibly.

QUALIFYING BODY - Either a parish/town council or neighbourhood forum, which can initiate the process of neighbourhood planning.

REFERENDUM - A vote by the eligible population of an electoral area may decide on a matter of public policy. Neighbourhood plans and Neighbourhood Development Orders are made by a referendum of the eligible voters within a neighbourhood area.

There are about 1,200 electors in Burghill Parish. There are about 700 households in Burghill Parish. About 350 of these are in Burghill and St Mary's, which together will 'trump' the rest of the Parish. Particularly worrying, given that development is being pushed towards Tillington!

REGULATION 14 - This is actually 'Regulation 14' of the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012, and is when the draft plan proposal is the subject of a six-week consultation '(Pre-submission consultation'). This is a 'consultation' undertaken by the Parish Council.

In the case of the Burghill Area NDP, the Pre-submission consultation' ran from 20 January 2016 to 11 March 2016. Many comments from parishioners were redacted!

REGULATION 16 - This is actually 'Regulation 16' of the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012, and is when the draft plan proposal (supposedly having been modified to take into account representations made at the Regulation 14 stage) is submitted to the local planning authority (Herefordshire Council). The plan must be publicised for a six-week period by Herefordshire Council. Any representations made at this stage will be passed to the independent examiner and will only be considered within the context of the independent examination (i.e. whether the neighbourhood plan proposal meets the basic conditions).

In the case of the Burghill Area NDP, this 'Submission consultation' ran from 13 July 2016 to 24 August 2016. Comments went directly to Herefordshire Council so were not redacted. Herefordshire Council produced a Progression to Examination Report (extract here) which decided that due to 'sufficient deficiencies' the Plan should not be sent for examination due to concern regarding consultation and deliverability of sites. It 'highly recommended' community involvement prior to resubmission of the plan and a review to ascertain deliverability of proposed allocation sites should it be evidenced that sites allocations cannot be achieved due to constraints.

SITE ALLOCATION PLAN - A plan accompanying a planning policy document or statement which identifies sites within the plan area on which certain kinds of development are proposed, e.g. residential or retail development.

WINDFALLS - "Windfalls" are sites which might not have been previously known, sites for single dwellings, changes in existing planning permissions or conversions to existing buildings.

(There are in fact 19 qualifying 'identified windfalls' lingering in Appendix 7 of the June 2016 Regulation 16 NDP. These were not criticised in Herefordshire Council's Progression to Examination Report as being 'undeliverable' like the mini-housing estates were. Together, Planning Permissions already granted since 2011, plus these 'identified windfalls' submitted by local people to the NDP in 2014, exceed the target for the Burghill Area NDP without resorting to building ghastly, incongruous mini-housing estates.)