Planning Inspectors, Jeremy Youle BA(Hons) MATRP MRTPI DipPSM and Matthew Birkinshaw BA(Hons) Msc MRTPI, appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, have issued their report on the Central Lincolnshire Local Plan to the Central Lincolnshire Joint Strategic Planning Committee.
Once it’s published ,Globe will be working and living with this Local Plan for quite a few years to come, and its interpretation is likely to be tested in many of our applications and appeal decisions by Planning Inspectors. At this very early stage this isn’t an attempt to analyse the issues it presents (we did enough of that through the consultation and hearing stages), but hopefully the following extract from the Inspectors’ Report and some observations of our own, will flag up a few points that we know clients are thinking about.
The report includes a non-technical summary which we have copied below.
This report concludes that the Central Lincolnshire Local Plan provides an appropriate basis for the planning of the City of Lincoln and the districts of North Kesteven and West Lindsey, provided that a number of main modifications are made to it. The Central Lincolnshire Joint Strategic Planning Committee has specifically requested that we recommend any main modifications necessary to enable the Plan to be adopted.
The main modifications all concern matters that were discussed at the examination hearings. Following the hearings the Committee prepared schedules of the proposed modifications and where necessary carried out sustainability appraisal of them. The MMs were subject to public consultation over a six-week period between 23 January and 6 March 2017 and we have recommended their inclusion in the Plan after considering all the representations made.
In summary they:
Amend Policies LP2 and LP4 to ensure greater clarity for decision-makers concerning the principle of development throughout the settlement hierarchy, including clarity surrounding exceptions;
Provide a mechanism for the monitoring and review of Policies LP2 and LP4;
Delete residential allocations within medium and small villages to reflect the spatial strategy of the plan and distribution of housing, and introduce a new tier allowing infilling within hamlets;
Define the OAN for housing and jobs;
Provide greater flexibility and clarity regarding proposals for economic development, including a positively prepared framework for development of unallocated sites;
Change the affordable housing threshold to ensure consistency with national planning policy;
Provide additional flexibility to Policies LP28, LP30, LP39 and LP44 concerning Sustainable Urban Extensions;
Provide greater clarity to decision makers concerning the principle of development within Green Wedges and affecting Important Open Spaces;
Revise Policy LP32 regarding Lincoln’s Universities and Colleges to support education, teaching and research at the University of Lincoln’s Riseholme Campus; and
Amend Policy LP57 to provide greater clarity regarding the redevelopment of MoD land and buildings.”
In relation to housing, the Inspectors conclude that the ‘objectively assessed need for housing’ in Central Lincolnshire does not need to be recalculated, and after considering a number of influences on the future need for housing, the report confirms an OAN average figure of 1,540 dwellings per annum, which equates to 36,960 dwellings over the plan period 2012 – 2036.
With regard to the threshold for Affordable Housing, which is of particular interest to many of our clients, the Inspectors have concluded that the case made in the submitted Plan to seek affordable housing on all qualifying developments of 4 dwellings or more doesn’t justify a departure from national policy as expressed in the Written Ministerial Statement (‘WMS’) on Small-scale Developers and the Planning Practice Guide. These both state that affordable housing should not be sought on sites of 10 units or less. Policy LP11 has therefore been amended to ensure consistency with national policy. Developers should also be aware that an affordable housing contribution will also be sought if the total floorspace of the proposed units exceeds 1,000 sqm which, in all likelihood, will be reached before the 11 dwelling threshold.
In terms of the clarification of housing policies LP2 and LP4 the report focuses on the need for greater clarity in determining the boundaries of the Lincoln Urban Area, as well as what constitutes “appropriate locations” for development, and “development footprints”, all of which are addressed through the “Main Modifications” to the Submission Plan. These can be found here. Interpretation of Policies LP2 and LP4 is likely to amount to the greatest amount of dispute in the years ahead, despite the modifications by the Inspectors, which still leave a lot to be desired in terms of how these policies will actually be applied and interpreted by the decision maker.
In relation to employment sites, the Report, amongst other issues, clarifies that where Policy LP5 “expressly supports economic development” this is also intended to extend to locations not covered by the existing designations of: Strategic Employment Sites; Existing Employment Areas; Sustainable Urban Extensions; and Local Employment Sites. This is based on the provision that they are assessed against a range of criteria which are set out in Main Modification 14.
The Inspectors’ Report can be found here in full.
If there are any aspects of the Plan or development opportunities you would like to discuss with us please do get in touch.