Earlier this year Uttlesford District Council’s Local Development Plan was thrown out due to severe concerns raised by the Planning Inspectorate about its soundness.
As we write, Uttlesford is one of 65 Councils with no post NPPF Local Development Plan in place.
Whilst the seeming lack of urgency to formulate robust and reasoned housing and economic plans is concerning, it does represent a prime opportunity for landowners to unlock the potential of their sites through the Development Plan process.
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), published in 2012, sought to distil the planning system, with a core message which promotes a presumption in favour of sustainable development.
‘Sustainable Development’ is described as the golden thread which runs through plan-making and decision-taking. In its most basic terms, its key tenets are that it provides:
- An economic role;
- A social role;
- An environmental role.
Since the publication of the NPPF, each local council is required to set their own housing and job targets for the next 15-year period. To ensure that these targets are robust, each council needs to identify and allocate suitable land for housing and employment development.
What stage is Uttlesford at?
On the 4th July 2014 Uttlesford’s Local Plan was submitted for independent examination to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government via the Planning Inspectorate. The Local Plan Examination was scheduled for the 18th-21st November and 2nd-5th December 2014.
The Inspector halted the examination on 3rd December and the council formally withdrew the Local Plan on 21st January 2015.
The Inspector identified that the submitted plan did not provide a fully compliant Objectively Assessed Need (OAN) for market and affordable housing in the area.
Further to this, their strategic allocation for Elsenham left the Inspector questioning whether the Council had considered the claims of other candidate locations for growth, resulting in grave concerns being raised about the justification for this proposal and thus the soundness of the plan as a whole.
What does this mean for landowners?
Uttlesford District Council’s lack of a local plan is a key opportunity for landowners to get involved in the consultation process and promote their land to be included as a future development site.
This can be done through a local plan or through a specific site allocation development plan document.
If your land is included as a site allocation for a particular use, it increases the likelihood for a successful planning application, as the principle of development will have already been secured. Whilst this process can be lengthy and sometimes complex, there is merit in pursuing as the financial rewards can be great.
A number of the key development plan stages to be aware of include:
Call for Sites – This is where the council invites landowners, developers and the general public to identify land that may have development potential;
Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) – This document assesses all the sites that the Council is aware of, including those identified under a ‘call for sites’, to consider their suitability for inclusion as a site allocation. Councils often undertake a consultation on the findings of this document and invite additional sites to be added;
Local Plan or Site Allocations DPD – These are the documents in which site allocations are identified. Once adopted by a council the allocations will become part of planning policy and will carry significant weight in future planning decisions. Prior to adoption, these documents will be subject to various consultation stages, often referred to as ‘Preferred Options’ and ‘Proposed Submission’.
There will be opportunities to put sites forward as site allocations through each of these consultation stages and it is always better to become involved in this process as early as possible. Following the consultation stages, these documents will then be independently examined to ensure they are robust.
When promoting sites for potential inclusion as a site allocation, the key to success will be to demonstrate that the site constitutes sustainable development and supports the development needs of an area.
How do Plainview Planning add value?
Plainview Planning specialise in promoting land into Local Plans. We add value by:
- coordinating your promotion efforts to make sure that the Council is provided with persuasive documentation about your site;
- ensure that the right groups are lobbied at the right time to maximise chances of inclusion;
- we monitor the status of Local Development Frameworks throughout the country and are well placed to guide you through the administrative and political process;
- we can provide professional expertise and funding to effectively promote your land and our services can be provided on a joint-venture basis.
Our experience with land promotion projects is wide ranging and we have worked on many schemes including large sites in Burnham, Dover and North Fambridge. (http://plainview.co.uk/services/strategic )
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your requirements.