Why Were NDPs Introduced?
Currently the planning authorities make their decision based on two sets of directives. These are:-
- the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)
- Cornwall Local Plan (CLP)
The NPPF set out at a high level a plan for development throughout the whole country. At the heart of the National Planning Policy Framework is a presumption in favour of sustainable development. Whilst certain safeguards are contained in that document including limited protection for National Parks and AONB areas, what the government wants is for sustainable development to take place in all areas in order to promote economic growth.
The Cornwall Local Plan has been produced by Cornwall Council to set out a more detailed development blueprint for Cornwall. Its stated objectives are to:
- Support the economy by removing barriers to jobs, businesses and investment.
- Enhance the cultural and tourist sector
- Enhance retail provision
- Provide sufficient housing so that all the community will have the opportunity of living in an appropriate home.
- Allow communities to provide for jobs and deliver homes locally to meet the needs of the people.
- Ensure that the infrastructure is available to meet the needs of the development
- To improve the quality of life and reduce social exclusion it will promote the development of housing, cultural, social, retail, health, education, religious and recreational facilities.
- Provide for walking and cycling and ensure appropriate levels of open spaces.
- Reduce energy consumption whilst increasing renewable and low carbon energy production
- Enhance and reinforce local natural landscape and historic character and raise the quality of development.
What the CLP cannot do is to contradict the NPPF so a presumption in favour of sustainable development is still assumed.
The CLP does not specify exactly where all housing and other development will take place. However, it does set out the number of new houses that will need to be provided in different areas of Cornwall. The Plan includes a number of policies relating to housing, including one relating specifically to the provision of affordable housing.
The number of new houses specified as a result of the CLP for the Padstow Civil Parish, is about 277 (of which some have already been completed or have planning permission). What the CLP does not do is specify where the houses should be built. In the absence of an NDP this would be decided principally by the developers and the landowners.
Jobs & Business
As with housing, development of land for Jobs and employment is also considered in the CLP. Again, it does not pinpoint sites for approval but does set out for each community network the minimum development expected. For the Wadebridge and Padstow community network (which covers fourteen local parishes) the CLP specifies 6700 sqM of new office space and a further 6700 sqM of new industrial space.
Neighbourhood Development Plans (NDP)
The NDP was introduced under the Government Locality initiative whereby the local residents could, if they wished, have a say in how their area is developed and where that development should take place within their area.
An NDP is primarily a Land Usage Plan. It can set out where and what development should take place (both residential and business) and additionally it can designate Green areas that should not be developed. It can set ground rules for the type and style of development. It can also allocate land for social and community use. The plan can be complex and set out the vision for the entire areas or it can concentrate solely on one area or type of development (e.g. Residential).
A completed NDP is a legal document that must be taken into account when planning authorities consider planning application. This includes the inspectors who hear appeal cases. Although exceptions can be made these should be rare and only for really exceptional reasons.
An NDP should reflect the views of the residents in the area and to ensure that it does, it must be accompanied by evidence that all the stakeholders in the area have been consulted. These include residents, business owners and workers. Additionally the consultation should include the young, old and families as well as social groups. Evidence needs to be collated to show that consultation has taken place.
The plan must meet the following conditions:
- It must not have less development in it that is prescribed by either the NPPF or the CLP
- It must not contravene the NPPF or the CLP (although one plan was passed that did contravene an NPPF policy because of unusual local conditions – so very rarely an exception could be made!)
- It must represent the views of all the residents and evidence must show that all were given ample opportunity to express their views.
- It must be accepted by a referendum of the residents, and in some cases by the residents of a neighbouring parish where the plans are controversial at the parish boundary.
Only when the plan has passed the referendum by a majority of those voting will it become binding on the Local Authority.
Why Do We Need An NDP?
- Resident Influenced Development: An NDP allows local residents to have a say in how their immediate surroundings will be developed. Without one, development will be controlled by Cornwall Council and Government Inspectors with development location and type being decided by local landowners and developers.
- Resident Influenced Land Use: An NDP provides local residents a chance to say what use is made of local land. Green sites can be protected from development and recreational facilities such as Playing Fields can be defined.
- Building Design: Building type including design features can be specified by an NDP which may help to conserve the look and feel of the area.
- Job Creation: The creation of jobs and business development can be fostered by the allocation of land for business development purposes.
- Social Housing: Needs for Social Housing can be met by defining within land use the type and proportion of affordable units
- Infrastructure Levy (Roof Tax): A higher proportion of the Infrastructure Levy will be available for use locally.
- Protection until 2030: An NDP will protect our area from exploitation in the event that there is a shortfall in the number of houses built within Cornwall by 2030.