Local Development Plans Process Review

The Welsh Government has launched a consultation with regard to the preparation of Local Development Plans.

What are the main changes the Welsh Government is proposing?

a). Increase and improve front-loading of the process, with a more integrated approach to incorporating sustainability appraisal / strategic environmental assessment (SA/SEA) fully into LDP preparation, a more informative Preferred Strategy and a requirement for sites being brought forward at the early stages of the process negating the need for the burdensome and confusing ‘Alternative Site’ (Reg.20&21) stage.

b). Reduce the required stages for plan revision, by introducing a short-form more proportionate procedure for making partial revisions to an adopted LDP where the issues involved are not of sufficient significance to warrant the full procedure, notably where the strategy remains sound.

c). Repackage the soundness tests for clarity and simplicity.

d). Provide greater clarity in relation to the robust evidence base, deliverability, monitoring and review
e). Resources: regard should be had to the resources available or likely to be available to deliver the policies and proposals set out in the LDP (at Reg13)
(This is key given that LDP strategies should be deliverable within the plan period.)

f). End date: a requirement that the LDP sub-title indicate ‘the end date of the LDP period’ (i.e. the end of the period for which the LDP is planning) at Reg11(1)(b).

g). Notice: remove the requirement to “give notice by local advertisement”; meaning “by publication on at least one occasion in a local newspaper circulating in the whole of the area of the LPA”. (e.g. at Reg22(5)(b); Reg23(1)(c); 24(2)(b); 25(2)(c); 26(b)). This will not reduce the level of publicity given to the LDP, as this will be suitably addressed in the Delivery Agreement through its Community  Involvement Scheme.

h). Savings / transitional provisions: ensure that amendments to the Regulations do not delay the momentum of plan preparation or disadvantage anyone.

i). Revised and succinct guidance package which will serve to provide clear focussed guidance for plan-makers and those participating in the process (realising that much of the basic guidance on the process is no longer necessary given that the LDP system has been in force for the best part of a decade); this includes:

i) Locating revised key policy on the LDP process in a single location in Planning Policy Wales (Ch.2) rather than the current spread between it and LDP Wales, thereby eliminating LDP Wales; the LDP Manual including all necessary guidance.

i) Eliminating the ‘main themes for the LDP system’ currently at chapter 2 of the LDP Manual.

j). Consultees: listings of statutory and other consultees.

What outcomes do we anticipate?

We aim to ensure the LDP process facilitates the preparation and maintenance of up-to-date plans. The process will be made more efficient and effective through provision of revised LDP regulations together with revised and streamlined guidance documentation.

We need to ensure that plan-makers and those participating in the process have clear focussed guidance, realising that much of the basic guidance on the process is no longer necessary given that the LDP system has been in force for the best part of a decade.

To enable the intended outcome of a less onerous and swifter plan process, secondary legislation is required to eliminate the burdensome ‘alternative sites’ stage and to provide a more streamlined procedure for partial revisions to an adopted LDP.

Questions (suggested responses)

Q1 Front-loading / alternative sites
With the proposed greater front-loading of the process in terms of sites and a more defined and informative.
Preferred Strategy, do you agree that no-one would be disadvantaged by the elimination of the ‘alternative sites’ stage.
The Association agrees that no one should be disadvantaged but the process should ensure that any sites put forward are deliverable within the Plan Period.

Q2 Review report
Do you agree that the LPA should prepare and publish a Review Report to justify whether a full or partial plan revision is appropriate, and that this should form part of the package of required documents at pre-deposit, deposit and submission?
The Association sees no objection to this proposal.
Q3 Short-form Revision Procedure
Where an authority is proposing to make partial revisions to an adopted
LDP and the plan strategy remains sound, do you agree with the provision of the short-form revision procedure (quicker, shorter and more proportionate)?
The Association supports any procedure which improves the timescales in delivery of a final plan.

Q4 Soundness tests
Do you agree with the proposed package of soundness tests?
The Association supports the following soundness test as set out in the consultation documents.

Test 1: Does the plan fit?
• Does it have regard to national policy and WSP
• Is it consistent with regional plans, strategies and utility programmes?
• Is it compatible with the plans of neighbouring authorities?
• Does it reflect the Single Integrated Plan (SIP) or the National Park Management Plan (NPMP)?

Test 2: Is the plan appropriate?
• Is it locally specific?
• Does it address the key issues?
• Is it supported by the robust, proportionate and credible evidence?
• Can the rationale behind plan policies be demonstrated?
• Does it seek to meet assessed needs and contribute to the achievement of sustainable development?
• Are the vision and the strategy positive and sufficiently aspirational?
• Have the ‘real’ alternatives been properly considered?
• Is it logical, reasonable and balanced?
• Is it coherent and consistent?
• Is it clear and focused?

Test 3: Will the plan deliver
• Will it be effective?
• Can it be implemented?
• Is there support from the relevant infrastructure providers both financially and in terms of meeting relevant timescales?
• Will development be viable?
• Can the sites allocated be delivered?
• Is the plan sufficiently flexible? Are there appropriate contingency provisions?
• Is it monitored effectively?’

Q5 Integrated approach
A) Do you agree that an integrated approach to incorporating sustainability appraisal (including strategic environmental appraisal) fully into LDP preparation will produce savings and reduce complexity?
The Association is sceptical about any proposals that claim to reduce complexity as to date this has not been delivered when referred to in other legislation. The Association does support the idea of an integrated approach.

B) Do you agree that this integration would not conflict with any statutory process?
The Association can not find any reason why a conflict would take place.

Q6 Resources
In the LDP Regulations, do you agree with adding ‘resources’ as a matter to which regard must be had at Regulation 13, given that LDP strategies should be deliver
able within the plan period?
The Association agrees that adding ‘resources’ is a correct course of action.

Q7 End date
In the LDP Regulations, do you agree with adding the end date of the LDP period (i.e. the end of the period for which the LDP is planning) to the LDP sub-title at Regulation 11(1)(b)?
The Association agrees that adding of an end date is a correct course of action.

Q8 Notice by local advertisement
In the LDP Regulations, do you agree with removing the requirement to give notice by local advertisement (e.g. at Reg22(5)(b); Reg23(1)(c); 24(2)(b); 25(2)(c); 26(b))?
The population of many Welsh towns and communities comprise 30% of those over 60. These people usually gain information in newspaper form. The Association feels it premature to remove the requirement to publish notices in local newspapers.

Q9 Consultees
Do you agree with the revised list of statutory consultees?
The Association feels that the following paragraph should be strengthened.

‘A relevant authority (i.e. a local planning authority or a community or town council), any part of whose area is in or adjoins the area of the authority’

The Association suggests the following wording:

‘All relevant authorities which shall include the Local Planning Authority, all Town and Community Councils who are wholly or partly within the LDP area or are immediately adjacent to the LDP area.’
Q10 Guidance package
Do you agree with the principle of having a succinct two-document guidance package that excludes the need for LDP Wales?
(Please note that we will in due course be revising the public guide,
Planning Your Community: A guide to Local Development Plans 2006, to reflect
changes taken forward.)
Any improvement in clear guidance is supported by the Association.

Q11 Errors
Are there any factual errors in the revised LDP documentation?
None that the Association notices.

Q12 Any other comments

The Association supports a plan lead system but feels that there should be a review process during the life of the plan. This is so that if there are changes in circumstances these can be taken on board without the need to wait until the next LDP.

The Association agrees that the information of particular relevance to be considered
as part of the evidence base for the LDP is right as set out below at appendix A.

The Association is willing to give oral evidence to the relevant Committee if it were felt to be helpful.

The Association represents over 30 larger Town and Community Council in North and Mid Wales. This document will be discussed by the members at their meeting to be held on 24th October 2014.
Robert A Robinson FRICS AILCM
North and Mid Wales Association of Local Councils
Triangle House
Union Street
SY21 7PG

Tel 01938 553142
Email town.clerk@welshpooltowncouncil.gov.uk

Information of particular relevance to be considered as part of the evidence base for the LDP are: Demand-side factors, including:
•demographic forecasts from the Welsh Government or locally justified variations;
•housing market analysis, housing needs survey (including the need for affordable homes) and the accommodation needs of gypsy and travellers;
•economic projections including property market-based intelligence, past take-up rates, vacancies;
•retail expenditure growth projections;
•minerals, waste, renewable energy needs;
•open space needs;
•spatial concentrations of deprivation and regeneration programmes;
•Welsh language community demographics. Supply-side factors, including:
•housing land availability, rate of take-up of housing allocations, lead in time between sites obtaining planning permission and delivering houses;
•potential for infill and conversion and development on previously used land;
•employment, retail and leisure land / floor space availability and rate of take up;
•capacity of physical and social infrastructure;
•ability to fund infrastructure and links between S.106 and CIL;
•transport accessibility;
•environmental, ecological, landscape and heritage constraints and opportunities;
•major floodrisk, hazard, public safety, contamination, land stability issues;
•development viability; development rates (i.e. number of dwellings built per
site)based on realistic completion rates and with agreement of the development industry; and market signals.