Planning White Paper – Consultation Response plus Have your say on what the future looks like for Telford and Wrekin The Local Plan Review: Issues and Options Consultation has opened

Below is the response by Newport and District Civic Society to the Planning White Paper:

‘NDCS has been a member of Civic Voice(‘CV’) since its inception and prior to that was a member of Civic Trust.

Over many years we have been involved in a variety of both planning and wider issues relating to Newport and its rural hinterland. Most recently in the 5years up to the adoption by Telford & Wrekin Council ( T&WC) in January 2018 of the T&WC Local Plan 2011 to 2031 (‘T&WC LP’). We responded to T&WC at each stage of the consultation process for the draft Local Plan, submitted evidence to the Inspector in the emerging Local Plan (eLP) process as well as providing oral submissions at the Examination stage of the eLP.
We were also a driving force behind the preparation and subsequent adoption by T&WC of the Neigbourhood Plan for Newport.

As you will appreciate from the above, we have not only considerable knowledge if both planning and wider related issues but also the process and procedures for both local plans and neighbourhood plans. We have attended most of the Civic Voice webinars on different aspects of the Planning White Paper and have participated in their survey, but being in a rural area within an urban Local Planning Authority we have our own views we which to express.

1. Zoning
We cannot see any real evidence which justifies the assertions that ‘zoning’ would lead to a simplified process and, therefore, shortened periods for the production of local plans. The identification and designation of sites with potential for development within a local plan was from our experience one of the areas that took most of the time within the Local Plan process. Further delays and threatened legal challenges from aggrieved land owners were only averted by the agreement to consider site allocations within 5 years of the adoption of the T&WC LP.
If all that the process entails is compressed into a system for up-front agreement of the zones then this exercise will be so massive and fraught with legal challenges that it will lengthen as opposed to shortening and simplifying the process. If local landowners fear they have a once only chance to have their land included in the Local Plan, then they will resort to legal challenges to protect the value of the land they own.

In the light of the above we strongly urge that the government reconsider its proposals regards zoning.

2. Housing Numbers
The proposed return to centralising overall housing targets to Whitehall would appear from statements made by the Housing Minister to be an area that government has already accepted needs further consideration by them and revised proposals to be further consulted on in due course. On this basis we will not provide any further comment other than supporting the submission made by Civic Voice this month to the government consultation ‘ Changes to the current Planning System’.

3. Neighbourhood Plans (NPs)
We are very disappointed by the proposals to limit the ambit and value of NPs. The proposals look to us like a last-minute sop to NPs, which would otherwise be completely removed from the planning process. In the early part of the previous decade across the country we were asked by the then government to buy-in to ‘localism’ in its many facets. We did this though the many consultations leading up to the Examination of the eLP and in driving the process locally for what became the Newport Neighbourhood Plan. A great deal of time and resources were provided by local people to both these processes.
The proposal that NPs should now deal only with design issues takes away both a valuable process and document by which our market town and many in the rural hinterland could have a voice in what otherwise was a process dominated by the requirements of the urban area of Telford.

We ask that the government seriously reconsiders its proposals on NPs which smack of centralising the most important parts of the wider planning process in Whitehall.

4. S106 / CIL
Our own experience of trying to get to get T&WC to release figures to identify what monies they hold from S106 funds leads us to support the proposals by government to completely replace what has been an overly complex and opaque process.
The new process must ensure that monies raised are spent to improve the infrastructure local to the development rather than go into a central fund within the LPA.

Notwithstanding the proposals for some kind of design council whose membership would include all the relevant parties across the board, we can only say that our experience in an area where T&WC has produced design codes of various kinds is that taking housing as an example, the major and medium sized house builders have for the most part used the requirements from government to achieve annual national and local housing targets as an excuse to depart by even minor changes to the standard housing that they build on large, medium or even small housing estates both across the country, and locally.
Any attempt we have made on the individual planning applications to seek compliance to the local design codes have been met by the planning officers report to plans committee saying that the application should be treated as an exception to the design codes on the basis of the requirements to meet housing targets.

David Griffin
Chairman Newport & District Civic Society (Shropshire)’.

Have your say on what the future looks like for Telford and Wrekin
The Local Plan Review: Issues and Options Consultation has opened

If you have any views on the Local Plan consultation which you would like NDCS to include in its response to the consultation then please email David Griffin by no later than 5 pm on Wednesday 11 November 2020.
For ease of reference paste the link below in your search engine to access the consultation documents:-

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