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Local Plan FAQ

Please click on the links below for answers to the most frequently asked questions.

What is the Local Plan? 

Why do we need it? 

Haven’t we already got a Local Plan? 

How many houses will we need?

What happens if we don’t produce a Local Plan?

What happens if we don’t identify enough land to meet the housing requirement?

Why don’t we build on brownfield sites?

How are we choosing these sites?

What about infrastructure such as schools and transport?

Won’t all this new development be bad for the environment? 

What do I get out of it?

Will new housing fit in and be good quality?

Do I get a say?

What happens next?

How do I find out more?

 

What is the Local Plan? 

It’s a blueprint for how the district will develop over the next 15 years, identifying suitable sites for development to provide new local homes and jobs that are needed up to 2036 as well as setting out the policies that planning applications will be assessed against. 

Why do we need it? 

It’s a legal requirement from the government for councils to develop a Local Plan to plan for future growth in population. Demand for housing is increasing meaning we need to plan ahead for significant new development in the district. Many of our families are worried about the affordability and supply of homes for their children and future generations and these are the type of issues that the new Local Plan will seek to address.

Haven’t we already got a Local Plan? 

Three Rivers was the first local authority to adopt a Core Strategy in 2011. The Core Strategy had an annual housing target of 180 dwellings per year and the plan period was from 2011 – 2026. But since then the government has brought in the National Planning Policy Framework with a requirement to review local plans every five years together with the introduction of a new way of calculating housing needs in order to meet the government’s annual housing target of 300,000 houses per year.

How many houses will we need?

The number of homes that are required to be planned for over the plan period is set by the government using a standard calculation. This equates to 630 dwellings a year. The new Local Plan will need to allocate sufficient land to meet this requirement. 

What happens if we don’t produce a Local Plan?

The government may intervene and appoint another organisation to prepare a Local Plan for the district. This would mean less local control for the council and residents.

What happens if we don’t identify enough land to meet the housing requirement?

If the council doesn’t identify enough land for housing, an inspector appointed by the Secretary of State would recommend additional sites to be allocated. Simply saying no to any sites and restricting development to less than the numbers required by the government is not an option. There is also a risk that the Local Plan would fail when submitted to the government’s planning inspectorate for independent examination and leave the district open to speculative planning applications, possibly resulting in development taking place in areas that the council doesn’t consider suitable.

Why don’t we build on brownfield sites?

The priority is to identify land in urban areas for development. However, given the high housing requirement and the need to provide the infrastructure associated with development (such as schools, open spaces, transport, community facilities etc.) there are not enough brownfield sites to accommodate the scale of development. Given that 76% of the Three Rivers is designated as Green Belt, the number of dwellings needed means we have no choice but to build on some existing green field sites in the Green Belt. National planning policy requires that the council does consider land in the Green Belt for development as part of the new Local Plan.

How are we choosing these sites?

These are difficult but necessary decisions. The sites we are putting forward for consideration are those that meet the criteria in terms of availability, deliverability and sustainability. Some of the sites put forward will be controversial to some, but the council has to allocate enough sites to meet the government target. Some sites may change as a result of consultation but for each site taken out, another will have to be added or more houses built on other sites.

What about infrastructure such as schools and transport?

When assessing how suitable a potential site is, the need for infrastructure goes hand in hand to support the planned increase in new homes and jobs. Some aspects of this such as schools and roads are the responsibility of the county council, so we ask for their help in drawing up the plan. We also have discussions with providers of other essential infrastructure such as health care, utilities and communications to help inform the infrastructure provision.

Won’t all this new development be bad for the environment? 

We are already committed to lowering carbon emissions and increasing the use of renewable energy. As a council we are leading by example on reducing energy carbon emissions, increasing energy efficiency and using renewable energy sources within our own properties.

Applications for all new development will need to show that they produce at least 20% less carbon dioxide emissions than the current building regulations require. We are also committed to reducing emissions within existing housing which is responsible for 40% of total carbon emissions. 

What do I get out of it?

More housing for the next generation and more affordable housing for those that need it.

Enhanced facilities in your community including more public open spaces, education facilities, improved transport links, cycle routes, community facilities and local shops.

Will new housing fit in and be good quality?

Planning policies within the new Local Plan will require that new buildings should be of the highest possible quality, maintain reasonable privacy for existing residents and be in keeping with local character.

Do I get a say?

Yes. We want to hear the views of residents, employers and others with a stake in our area, so we consult with the public on all aspects of the Local Plan. These views are then taken into consideration by the council’s elected members. Consultation responses are taken into consideration in the preparation of the new Local Plan. If you would like to be advised of any consultations on the Local Plan, please email TRLDF@threerivers.gov.uk and ask to be added to the consultation database. 

What happens next?

Elected council members are considering possible sites for inclusion before the Local Plan public consultation due in May 2021. After taking on board feedback, we anticipate the Local Plan will be published in November/December 2021 and submitted to the government’s Planning Inspectorate for independent examination in autumn 2022. 

How do I find out more?

The majority of the policies that will form part of the consultation have already been approved by the council’s Policy and Resources Committee and can be viewed on our website at the following links: 

https://www.threerivers.gov.uk/meeting/policy-and-resources-committee-20-july-2020  (see Item 6).

https://www.threerivers.gov.uk/meeting/policy-and-resources-committee-7-september-2020   (see Item 5).