The work involved in producing an acceptable Local Plan seems interminable.
Much has been written about the Government’s plan to build the country out of recession and, to that end, under the Draconian planning laws (the National Planning Policy Framework or NPPF) every Council was expected to produce a Local Plan. The Plan outlines where housing should be built in the coming plan period (typically 15 years).
It seems that the process is so fraught with difficulty that only 50% of Councils have managed to wend their way through the lengthy Examination in Public and achieve the ultimate prize of an adopted Local Plan. These Councils are in the enviable position of being able to decide where development should happen.
Where there is no Local Plan in place, policy is determined by the NPPF which insists on a presumption in favour of sustainable development.
For East Devon, the Examination in Public took place in February this year and one of the conclusions reached by Anthony Thickett, the Planning Inspector, was that there was insufficient evidence to inform the numbers of houses proposed.
Joint research (Strategic Housing Market Assessment or SHMA) was already under way across East Devon, Mid Devon, Teignbridge, Exeter City and Dartmoor National Park Authority and the piece of work was due to be completed this summer, allowing Mr Thickett to return in the autumn for further consultation and the likelihood of the Local Plan being adopted in early 2015, or more realistically summer 2015.
However, next week’s Planning Committee (DMC) meeting will debate a paper written by the Planning Policy Manager explaining that the SHMA report has been delayed and will not be available for some months and this will delay the whole Local Plan process.
The meeting, being held at the EDDC offices at the Knowle in Sidmouth, is on Tuesday 26 August, starting at 2 o’clock.
And the debate is likely to be a heated one.
Following my email to the Planning Policy Manager on the likely date for the adoption of the Local Plan, he responded “At this stage I would not be able to give an adoption date but if things do go along at a decent pace, as I trust they will now do, I would still consider that Summer 2015 could be a reasonable adoption date.”
The agenda for the DMC meeting on 26 August is available here: http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/development_management_agenda_mins_remit.htm
The report itself is available here: http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/dm260814-emerging_housing_numbers.pdf
EDDC’s press release (entitled ‘Housing growth: Progress being made but full picture still to emerge’ is available here: http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/communications_and_consultation.htm?newsid=1174