Neighbourhood Planning In General
Mid Sussex District Council and Neighbourhood Plans
Please see below for links to other websites that provide information which will support the preparation of the Horsted Keynes Neighbourhood Plan.
Questions and Answers
Legally no. The Localism Act 2011 was designed to empower communities to have a greater say in their future, not to compel them to do so. So they are voluntary and available to those communities which consider the benefits of having a NP worth the time and effort and cost of producing one.
The UK planning environment is defined by the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). This has simplified the planning regime and created a presumption in favour of ‘sustainable development’, defined by the UN as development which meets “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” One of the five principles of sustainability adopted by the UK is achieving a sustainable economy, although this is tempered by the principle of environmental conservation.
The NPPF presumption in favour of sustainable development has given the green light to developers to go ahead with schemes which they can argue fulfil NPPF objectives and has made it harder for local authorities and communities to resist schemes they consider inappropriate for their area. Many cases have been reported in the media in the last year or so of large scale developments being imposed on small communities because well funded developers have been able to overwhelm local authority opposition to their plans by launching expensive appeals (see Q2.6 for local examples).
The Localism Act 2011 has offered mechanisms by which local policies can shape and constrain developments so that they are appropriate for an area and bring benefits to its local communities, namely local and neighbourhood plans. The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) say this in its guide to neighbourhood planning:
Neighbourhood Plans provide a great opportunity for you to have more influence on how the places in which you live and work will change over time. Your local knowledge, and your sense of what needs to be protected and what needs to change, can really make a difference.
It is important to note that once passed by referendum a NP gains statutory force. It becomes part of the local authority’s Local Plan, and must be taken into account in all future planning decisions.
The following programme has proved successful elsewhere:
- Data collection through household surveys to gather evidence about housing and infrastructure needs.
- Draft a Vision Statement describing what residents want their community to look like at the end of the planning period, 2031.
- Draft a Statement of Objectives to flesh out the vision.
- Draft Policies to support the objectives, including housing policies.
- Identify an Objective Assessment of (Housing) Need (OAN) for the community – for its own purposes the local authority must establish an OAN for its district and allocate individual OANs to the communities in its area.
- Develop site sustainability criteria consistent with local and national policy as a means of evaluating any sites that will be put forward.
- Make a call for land by placing notices in local media outlets publicising the requirement for land and the call period’s expiry date.
- Apply the sustainability criteria to any sites put forward in response to the land call to identify those which on balance may be judged sustainable.
- Assess the upper and lower limits of new build capacity resulting from the sustainability assessment and identify infrastructure issues.
- Develop policies for each sustainable site to fulfil the plan objectives and overall housing policies (e.g. on housing mix).
- Draft key statement and reports required by planning policies and guidelines such as the Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report.
- Assemble documentary evidence supporting the policies drafted for the plan.
- Draft the Neighbourhood Plan document itself – a process that may overlap most of the above stages.
A neighbourhood plan belongs to the community for which it is being prepared, so community engagement and consultation will be an ongoing process through these stages to ensure that the residents are in broad agreement with the final document.
Once the NP has been drafted, there must be a minimum 6-week period of consultation that anyone can respond to, and the plan must be amended as necessary to take account of comments received. After that, the NP is submitted to the local authority and they hold a second minimum 6-week period of consultation to which anyone can respond. There then follows an independent examination of the plan. This examination will ensure that the NP fulfils legal and policy requirements and meets three key conditions, namely that (a) it has regard to national planning policy, (b) it is in general conformity with strategic policies in the development plan for the local area, and (c) it is compatible with EU obligations and human rights requirements. Amendments may then be required by the inspector before the NP can be finalised.
Finally, those on the electoral roll have an opportunity to vote for the plan at referendum. A majority of 50% of those voting plus 1 will ensure that the NP acquires legal status as part of the Local Plan and must be taken into account in all future planning decisions.
Q1.4 How does a local authority’s Objectively Assessed Need’s figure affect housing totals in a NP? (03/15)
The local authority’s OAN is based on existing demographics extrapolated into the future based on natural population growth and historical trends in migration patterns. It is a starting point, not a plan housing figure. The OAN allocated to a community must be taken into account, but the final figure included in any NP submitted for examination will be decided by the community bearing a number of constraints in mind.
Yes there are.
Provisions for affordable housing set out in section 39 of MSDC’s Housing Allocation Scheme are particularly favourable for parishes in an AONB who have a NP:
- In the case of first lettings of affordable housing in developments in such parishes, priority will be given to Applicants with a Local Connection to the parish where the homes are located.
- In the case of subsequent lettings of a designated 50% of the homes in the development, priority will be given to Applicants with a Local Connection to the parish where the homes are located.
- These special rules will apply once a NP has been submitted to MSDC even if planning permission for a development has been granted in advance of the adoption of the NP.
These provisions mean that 50% of rented affordable housing developed under a NP will be held in perpetuity for the benefit of those with a local connection. Without a NP, such housing can become available after the first occupancy to those with no such connection.
Other very significant benefits of having a NP are:
- The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) allows local authorities to set charges which developers must pay when bringing forward new development in order to contribute to new or enhanced services and infrastructure. 15% of CIL will go to local communities where development takes place to spend as they see fit (capped at a maximum of £100 per Council Tax paying dwelling), but this rises to 25% (uncapped) if a NP is in place. Affordable housing is exempt from the charge. Given MSDC’s proposed CIL for market dwellings in villages of £210/m2, one dwelling of 100m2 would yield £100 without a NP but £5,025 (25% of £21,000) with one, a bonus of £4,925 per dwelling. 60 say built under a NP would yield a gain to village funds of £295,500 to provide local facilities.
- The New Homes Bonus scheme provides cash for areas that allow new homes to be built in their area. Government funding has been set aside for local councils that welcome new housing development which they can spend to benefit their local community. Under the scheme the Government matches the council tax raised from new homes for the first six years through the New Homes Bonus. Councils and communities work together to decide how to spend the extra funding, e.g. giving local residents a council tax discount or boosting frontline services like rubbish collection.
Affordable housing is housing provided at below market prices for those who are unable to afford to purchase or rent houses generally available on the open market without financial assistance. MSDC’s Policy DP29 in its draft Local Plan requires that 75% of such housing be for below market rental, with 25% for sale at below market rates. Rentals would be set at up to 80% of market rates, which is generally above social housing rents. MSDC will pursue a similar policy for shared ownership homes until such time as no one with a local connection applies.
A local connection means that either the housing applicant or a close relative has been resident in the area for a certain number of years. The full definition can be found in clause 38.6 of MSDC’s Housing Allocation Scheme.
Yes, very much so. In their press release dated 23rd February 2015 they say:
MSDC support neighbourhood planning … Neighbourhood Planning ensures that local people decide the level of development in their local area.
All 19 Parish Councils within MSDC are actively progressing NPs. 9 are now live and in place and several more are at an advanced stage in their preparation.
Q2.3 The MSDC draft local plan does not list a requirement for building any specific number of houses, so is there any need to build any? (03/15)
It is not true that MSDC has no specific number. Its draft local plan is for an average of 800 new dwellings per year over the 17 year period from April 2014 to April 2031, a total target of 13,600. This was recently added to the draft plan.
MSDC submitted its first draft plan for inspection in 2013 but this was failed on inspection because its housing figure was substantially too low. Its revised plan follows the approach set out in the National Planning Practice Guidance and specifies the above figures. Having excluded Burgess Hill (which will be building 3,500 dwellings of the total) and housing commitments already subject to planning permission elsewhere or previously allocated, MSDC have to allocate 1730 dwellings through neighbourhood plans.
MSDC have advised us that our OAN figure is 126 . The relevant MSDC planning officer has recently advised:
The OAN figure for Horsted Keynes is set out in this Report which is available on our website http://www.midsussex.gov.uk/media/3456/hednaupdate-november2015-final.pdf … This explains the methodology for arriving at the 126 OAN figure for the Parish. In simple terms, the Report takes the overall OAN for Mid Sussex and distributes it between the parishes according to the proportion of the total population and households each parish contained as at the Census date in 2011. Whilst this is not a perfect methodology, it is a reasonable one since the OAN is partly based on demographic needs, and the more households/population in a parish in 2011, the more new households will form from young people growing up.
The report referred to is a very detailed technical report of 112 pages in length.
Q2.5 Are we not just developing a NP on the assumption that if we don’t do so, MSDC will impose something far worse? (03/15)
No, this has not been our assumption. We see the main threat coming from developers, not MSDC. We know from the land call that a number of landowners are keen to sell land in the Parish for development, and our concern is that sooner or later developers will seek to take advantage of this. For example, if a house backing onto a potential development site came on the market, a developer could do a deal with the site owner to buy and demolish the house to give access to the site. Or sites outside the village boundary could be sold to a developer for a development that changed the whole character of the community.
Q2.6 Will we not be protected from large developments even without a NP because we are in an AONB? (03/15)
Although we do have some protection by being in an AONB, this does not automatically preclude development and legal loopholes abound. The Parish Council has therefore judged that we need the added protection of a NP. MSDC has recently stated:
It is important to progress the District Plan and neighbourhood plans to ensure that the Council can demonstrate that it has a five year supply of housing against the provision figure in the District Plan (proposed to be 800 dwellings per annum). The lack of an identifiable five year housing land supply means that permissions for housing are more likely to be granted planning permission either by the District Council or at Appeal. This can include identified parcels of land within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and examples of this include sites in Ardingly, Handcross and Pease Pottage.
Ardingly has had to accept an unwanted development of 37 houses, but it has since voted in favour of its NP (88% on a turnout of 35%). Regarding Handcross and Pease Pottage, our liaison MSDC planning officer advises:
Both villages are in the Slaugham Parish which does not yet have a Neighbourhood Plan in place. The Parish is almost entirely within the AONB. The OAN for Slaugham Parish is 211 compared to 126 for Horsted Keynes. The permissions are likely to be implemented within 5 years.
The OAN of 211 for Slaugham covers the period to 2031. Between them, the two villages will be obliged to take 260 new dwellings plus 120 new care home places, a total likely to be built in the next five years that is 80% higher than their OAN. The grant of planning permissions was possible because there was no NP in place and illustrates the kind of risk we face until we have at least submitted one to MSDC.
No. MSDC have said:
Horsted Keynes is defined as a ‘medium sized village’ providing essential services for the needs of their own residents and immediate surrounding communities. Other factors that neighbourhood plans will need to take into account are the needs of the area for development, the availability of suitable sites and localised infrastructure constraints and opportunities.