Issue details

Milton Abbas Neighbourhood Plan 2019-2031

Reason for the Decision

 

To progress the Milton Abbas Neighbourhood Plan to

referendum so that pending a favourable vote, the plan can

be ‘made’. (Current Regulations linked to the Coronavirus

Act 2020 mean that no neighbourhood plan referendums

can take place until 6 May 2021. However, the

Government’s Planning Practice Guidance has been

updated and sets out that neighbourhood plans that have

been subject to a decision statement, stating that they can

proceed to referendum, can be given significant weight in

decision-making.)

 

Alternative Options considered and rejected

 

The Council can decide not to follow the recommendations

of the Examiner, but it must set out its reasons for doing so.

Regarding the examiner’s recommendations, in paragraph

90 of his report (see Appendix A) he states “I nevertheless

recommend that consideration be given to the identification

of a reserve site, which could potentially be released in the

event that there is a shortfall in meeting the housing

requirement over the Plan period as a result of the decisions

reached on applications for any of the allocated sites. The

Plan should make it clear that this site should only be

considered for release if evidence exists that, without it, the

Plan would not be able to meet the identified need for

housing.”

The neighbourhood plan group and Milton Abbas parish

council (as the qualifying body) have both considered

whether to include a reserve site. The minutes from the

parish council meeting held on 13 August 2020 (see

Appendix B) show that both the neighbourhood plan group

and the parish council agreed that the draft neighbourhood

plan meets the needs of the parish and therefore can

proceed without a reserve site.

Dorset Council has separately considered the matter of

whether a reserve site should be included in the plan. There

is no suggestion by the examiner that a reserve site is

necessary in order for the plan to meet ‘basic conditions’ or

any other legal requirement. Dorset Council notes that the

parish council has given the matter due consideration and

taken a vote. Since production of a neighbourhood plan

should be led by the qualifying body (in this case, the parish

council), Dorset Council sees no reason on this occasion to

amend the plan to include a reserve site.

Aside from the matter of a reserve site, the Council has

agreed to accept all of the Examiners recommendations

made within his report (see Appendix A).

 

Budget Implications

 

Once a referendum date has been set, the Council becomes

eligible for a grant of £20,000. This grant is intended to

cover the costs associated with the Council’s input into the

production of the neighbourhood plan including the

examination and referendum. The grant of £20,000 will be

sufficient to cover the costs associated with the examination

and referendum.

 

Legal Implications

 

A legal challenge could theoretically be made against a

decision to proceed to referendum. Such a challenge could

be made on the basis that the neighbourhood plan, as

modified, does not meet the basic conditions, is not

compatible with the Convention rights or because it does not

comply with the definition of a neighbourhood development

plan. However, the independent Examiner has considered

these matters in light of all of the objections that have been

made to the plan. Given the evidence before them officers

consider that there is no basis for reaching a different view

to the Examiner.

Decision type: Non-key

Decision status: For Determination

Notice of proposed decision first published: 04/09/2020

Decision due: 4 Sep 2020 by Portfolio Holder for Planning

Lead member: Portfolio Holder for Planning

Lead director: Executive Director, Place

Consultation process

The plan has been subject to a large amount of public

consultation as it has been progressed. This includes two

formal rounds of consultation, both lasting six weeks (as

required by legislation).

Documents