Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Does not having a new Local Plan or Land Supply in place leave East Devon vulnerable to development?

The draft Local Plan is out to a further round of consultation:
Futures Forum: Local Plan: latest comment on 'minor to major' changes
East Devon District Council - News
Inspector rules that EDDC Local Plan must be resubmitted, after further public consultation | Save Our Sidmouth
Now EDDC’s Local Plan has to go back to the drawing board: 53 major problems | Sidmouth Independent News
EDDC’s Plan Unravels? | Sidmouth Independent News 

The District Council had earlier expressed fears that any such delay would have worrying consequences, leaving East Devon 'vulnerable to speculative planning applications and development':

Under the rules for preparing local plans set out by the Government, changes to the draft plan must be minor or they will require another lengthy round of public consultation and analysis,setting back the process and delaying the completion of the plan.We have worked to avoid this as the prolonged absence of a final local plan leaves our area more vulnerable to speculative planning applications and development in locations that are unacceptable to local people and the council.
Council counters criticism over Local Plan - News - Sidmouth Herald

These fears have been expressed elsewhere:

Just over half of English councils do not have an adopted local plan in place only three weeks before the government's planning reforms are due to fully come into force, according to figures published by countryside campaigners.

The biggest threat remains EDDC’s failure to get its housing land supply in order, and to have an approved Local Plan in place. Absence of an approved Local Plan means that developers can argue that there is no reason why Feniton shouldn’t take literally hundreds more houses. EDDC suffered a major blow this week when the Planning Inspectorate decided that recent changes EDDC had made to the Local Plan were, far from being minor, major enough to have to consult the public all over again. 
Fight for Feniton’s report September 2013 |
Susie Bond of Fight for Feniton’s Future said: “Feniton is just one of a number of villages across England facing massive development. We are particularly vulnerable because EDDC failed to ensure it had enough housing land identified and because it has no local plan in place.”
So, will development in Newton Poppleford stop there, now its fulfillment of housing for the next 13 years is complete?
Sandra SempleSeptember 18, 2013 
I find it very surprising that some people can agree with the outcome. It has only happened because EDDC has no five year land supply. Had the local plan been in operation this application would not have been allowed and would almost certainly have failed at appeal. If it had been turned down then would those who supported it this time have supported it next time? And, if so, why? The new Local Plan says that we do not need this development.
King Alfred Way | Sidmouth Independent News

On the other hand, there are arguments that that the District Council could be more 'proactive' in determining development:

An interesting item on the influential planning blog “Decisions, Decisions, Decisions” about a plaintive complaint from Horsham District Council (which has a 5 year land supply deficiency) that they are being forced to build more houses than they need. The planning consultant who runs the blog comprehensively dismisses  the points made by Horsham but does make the following point:
The government has now published in its Beta guidance guidance on prematurity, this largely repeats the extant guidance from ‘Planning system general principles’ and both suggest that plans prior to submission have some but limited weight.  If Horsham were successfully able to argue that development would be of such a scale to preempt the plan making process and that the draft plan had a high degree of conformity with the NPPF they stand a strong chance on appeal.  
Surely this should be the case in Feniton and possibly elsewhere. 
Can you refuse developers when you have no 5/6 year land supply? Possibly | Sidmouth Independent News
Horsham Leaders Letter to Boles Confuses Several Issues | Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

As the judge made clear, however, this is not to say that the absence of a five-year housing land supply will always be conclusive in favour of the grant of planning permission; the absence of such a supply is merely one consideration required to be taken into account, albeit an important one.
Although, to be fair, the rest of the article makes it pretty plain that if you do not have a 5 year land supply (or in the case of East Devon, a six year land supply) you are pretty much shafted if your local authority does not go in to bat for you.
An up to date explanation of the implications of having no 5 year land supply | Sidmouth Independent News
Martin Goodall's Planning Law Blog: Development management under the Localism Act

In the influential blog “Decisions, Decisions” in the entry on 10 February by planner Andrew Lainton, he goes into detail on the recent decision to allow the construction of 130 dwellings east of Butts Road, Ottery and says, in conclusion:
The key (classic) tactical error here was to attempt to puff up the 5 year supply by inviting applications which is tantamount to saying there is not a 5 year supply.  If East Devon has admitted it did not have a 5 year supply, invited applications on favoured sites and then swiftly approved them it would not have had a problem.  The appellant would be arguing its case at the forthcoming local plan EIP instead as its application would have been approved as the current local plan would not have been ruled out of date.
East Devon District Council 5 year land supply tactics criticised | Sidmouth Independent News
Key #NPPF 5 year Supply Appeal – 25 Year Supply and Still Loses, A Key Tactical Error by East Devon | Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

There has been severe criticism of the whole process of 'determining' the 5-Year Land Supply for housing in East Devon:
5 year | Search Results | Sidmouth Independent News

However, the District Council itself makes clear that the current Local Plan remains in place:

Current Local Plan (1995-2011)

The East Devon Local Plan (1995-2011) - Adopted July 2006. This document is the current, adopted Local Plan.  It was adopted in 2006 and sets out the current planning policy for development In East Devon.  The policies of the current adopted Local Plan will remain in place until the adoption of the New Local Plan (2006-2026).  At this point all current policies will be superseded.
Development proposals are judged against the relevant policies of the development plan for the area.  In East Devon, this is currently made up of the adopted East Devon Local Plan, the Devon Structure Plan and the Devon Minerals and Waste Local Plans.
East Devon District Council - Planning Policy (inc LDF & Local Plan)

And yet, what will happen if the Inspector choses to reject the draft Local Plan in its entirity, rather than focus on '53 major problems'?
Council votes to suspend local plan examination
Back to the drawing board for South Somerset Local Plan | This is Dorset
Now this IS spooky | Sidmouth Independent News

And if the 5-Year Land Supply and the provisions for employment land in the draft Local Plan are proving so 'problematic', to what extent should the process of drafting these policies be examined? 
Hull Local Plan rejected by HM Inspector; lessons to be learnt | WeAreResidents.org

Which brings matters back to the full circle of considering any 'influence' the East Devon Business Forum had on these procedures.
EDBF | Sidmouth Independent News 

But for the time-being, the TAFF set up to consider the EDBF has been suspended - due to fears that the Local Plan would be further delayed,
presumably leaving East Devon 'vulnerable to speculative planning applications and development':

Reproduced below are two comments on Councillor Claire Wright’s blog which give an insight into the way that the EDBF TAFF postponement has been justified and a comment on it:
At 06:52 pm on 27th Aug Graham Troman wrote:
Yes, I have postponed the next Taff meeting for two reasons.We need more information regarding a new business group for eastdevon.The main O&S committee supported the Taff to look at planning issues regarding employment land,but not to hold up the local plan process.On balance we need a local in place and will resume when the Inspector 
has done his Job.
Taff ChairmanGraham Troman
9. At 08:00 pm on 27th Aug Sandra Semple wrote:
The TAFF should be looking into historical evidence of the influence of the last group – particularly in the light of developments we all know about – and it is not necessary to wait for this. I very much doubt that we, the taxpayers of East Devon, will get what we are entitled to:  a full in-depth examination of the influence of EDBF on employment land input into the Local Plan and why Atkins and Tym consultants’ reports (commissioned by EDDC and which came to very similar conclusions) were ignored in favour of EDBF which wanted vastly more employment land – especially when EDBF say in their minutes that they never even discussed. Tym and many of those same EDBF members now have planning applications in for vast amounts of development.
East Devon Business Forum Task and Finish Forum – latest news | Sidmouth Independent News
Claire Wright - Your Independent East Devon District Councillor for Ottery Rural
Futures Forum: Lobbying: East Devon Business Forum 

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