The town council has stated the answers to questions relating to the Neighbourhood Development Plan before the Referendum on April 14, in the Horncastle News on March 16. Here are our answers from the No Vote campaign.
WILL THE PLAN STOP DEVELOPMENT?
As written at present, the answer is ‘No’. Examples of other plans, throughout the country, have designated areas of growth for all building and types of use. The HNDP intentionally excludes land allocation which, if included, could help shape where growth and development can take place. The lack of the ELDC Local Plan, which will not be published until 2017, has not helped. Consequently, the Vote No Campaign recommends that the plan be delayed and add a new policy to include land allocation and site zoning.
WHAT DOES THE PLAN CONTAIN?
As stated by the HNDP chairman at the Langton Hill Appeal, the HNDP is about design policies. This led the inspector to state that without housing numbers and zoning for development, the plan would carry little weight. This was not helped by ELDC having failed to set housing numbers for the area and not having a Local Plan in place.
The town council’s view is that ‘to go for site allocation was extremely difficult and expensive and any sites identified would have to be legally defensible’.
Recent case law has shown that at the Court of Appeal, a challenge to NDP site allocation by a developer was turned down in favour of the Neighbourhood Plan.
IF THE PLAN DOES NOT CONTAIN SITE ALLOCATIONS WON’T THE DISTRICT COUNCIL JUST CHOOSE THE SITES IT THINKS ARE BEST AND IGNORE THE PLAN?
The district council will be allocating sites in the Local ELDC Plan although its advice to the HNDP is not to include sites or land allocation. The high number of planning applications and approvals is not relevant and is not a reason to exclude land allocations to ensure the town expands and grows in the way the town wants to.
THE DISTRICT COUNCIL STILL DOES NOT HAVE A LOCAL PLAN; SURELY THE NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN SHOULD WAIT UNTIL THAT IS DEVELOPED/RATIFIED.
The No Vote campaign disagrees with the town council’s answer as major applications in the future will be in outline, which does not deal with design issues. It is wholly about site location and land use, roads and drainage. ELDC’s failure to have the housing numbers and the Local Plan in place after six years plus is the main reason for the large number of approved housing applications which are in the region of 2,000 houses/3,000 to 4,000 people and children.
This HNDP lasts for 15 years minimum. As written it will not prevent wide scale development. It needs land allocation and development growth areas for all types of development.
A LOT OF DEVELOPERS HAVE ALREADY GOT PLANNING PERMISSION TO BUILD IN THE TOWN. SURELY THE PLAN IS TOO LATE?
The short answer is ‘Yes’. Outline applications when approved designate the application site for the use applied for, housing, industry, commercial, retail and other land uses. It is questionable if the HNDP, if ratified, can be instrumental in being applied and even if it is, then the conditions applied to outline approvals have to be answered in full and generally before any building takes place. The majority of the HNDP policies are already part of the detailed planning process already in place. Without the ELDC Local Plan the HNDP is impotent.
IS THE TOWN COUNCIL HOLDING A PUBLIC MEETING TO PROMOTE THE REFERENDUM?
The Vote No Campaign is concerned that regulations prevent an open and democratic debate involving ELDC and the town council.
The No Vote campaign will be holding a public meeting week commencing April 4 to explain its position.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THE NEIGHBOURHOOD DEVELOPMENT PASSES THE REFERENDUM?
It becomes part of the planning process but its effectiveness relates primarily to design issues at the detail stage of an application. It does not address current inadequacies of infrastructure, including roads and sewers, medical and educational requirements and a long term master plan for the town and its outskirts.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THE NEIGHBOURHOOD DEVELOPMENT FAILS THE REFERENDUM?
By voting ‘No’ we are asking that the inclusion of land allocation/zoning of areas for growth is included but the rest of the plan remains as written. New consultations would be necessary but the requirement for a total rewrite is disputed. Having invested a large amount of tax payers’ money, £26,000 plus grants, the No Vote want to see this investment rewarded with a meaningful plan.
NO VOTE campaign