Decision Maker: Dorset Council - Cabinet
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: No
That a response be sent to Government, setting out the following as the views of Dorset Council on the White Paper, as well as the more detailed points made in section 9 of this report:
(a) That delays in house building nationally are not all due to the planning system – local planning authorities do not build houses - but to other factors including market absorption, the homogenous nature of large developments, and reliance on the private sector for infrastructure provision, as identified in the Letwin review. In the last decade, 2.5 million homes were granted planning permission but only 1.5 million were delivered; similarly in 2019, 371,000 homes were given permission but only 241,000 were delivered;
(b) That binding national housing targets and removal of the opportunity for people to comment at outline planning application stage on sites allocated for growth in plans will reduce the ability of communities to have input into proposals affecting their local areas, and reduce local democracy;
(c) That greater detail is required on how the national housing targets would be derived, including how environmental constraints will be taken into account, and that this must include an element of national planning strategy setting out the aims for how places will grow and the infrastructure needed to support them;
(d) That the proposed timescale for the adoption of new style plans is very ambitious bearing in mind the need for the introduction of new primary legislation, the proposed ‘front loading’ of community engagement and the greater level of technical work necessary if growth areas will receive automatic outline planning permission;
(e) That there is significant risk to the progress of currently emerging local plans due to the uncertainty around, and scale of, these changes;
(f) That if national policies are not to be repeated in local plans, they need to carry the same weight in decision making as development plan policies. Some local ‘development management policies’ will still be necessary to set out local mechanisms and approaches to addressing national policy issues – for example local solutions to addressing indirect effects of development on protected habitats;
(g) That there is no reference to what if any effect these changes are intended to have on minerals and waste local plans, how policies and site allocations for minerals and waste would be applied under the zoning system and how minerals safeguarding can be achieved;
(h) That while the support for good design and the publication of a national design code are welcomed, it is important that these focus not only on what places look like, but how they work for those living and working in them. Masterplanning also needs to consider infrastructure provision and mitigation of impacts on habitats, flood risk, heritage and landscape.
(i) That the replacement of the Community Infrastructure Levy and Section 106 planning agreements with a single levy is not likely to generate sufficient funding for the infrastructure and affordable housing that is needed, particularly bearing in mind the exemptions proposed. We would support the ring fencing of funding for affordable housing to ensure that this is not reduced;
(j) That while an increased reliance on digital methods of engagement and involvement may well attract a wider audience to comment on planning proposals, it will potentially disadvantage older people and those in more deprived areas who may have less access to digital means of communication.
Reason for Decision
The White Paper proposes radical changes to the current planning system of England, which will have significant impacts on Dorset, its communities and the council. It is important therefore to respond to the consultation in order to influence the outcome and ensure that the proposals do not adversely affect our area, in particular as a consequence of the binding housing targets and reduction in democratic and community involvement in decisions.
Report author: Hilary Jordan
Publication date: 09/10/2020
Date of decision: 06/10/2020
Decided at meeting: 06/10/2020 - Dorset Council - Cabinet