Canterbury District Local Plan
Canterbury District Local Plan was adopted by Full Council on 13th July 2017. According to Canterbury City Council (2017), the Plan replaces the Canterbury District Local Plan which was adopted in 2006 and the policies under Schedule 8 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 which were saved in 2009 after some modifications changed by the independent planning inspector.
The Local Plan consists of policies and future strategies for the area as well as sets out what should or should not be permitted in the development area. Hence, the Plan acts as a blueprint for the council to understand the vision of the District from 2011 to 2031, which then contributes to helping the local authority to make planning decisions for the development site. In this essay, it outlines the process of the local plan for adoption and considerations affecting the making of the local plan.
local plan adoption process
According to Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012 (The National Archives, 2012), there are several stages required to prepare and adopt a new Local Plan. These stages include the preparation, publication, examination, adoption, and monitoring.
In accordance with Reg.18 of the 2012 Local Plan Regulations (The National Archives, 2012), the local planning authority is responsible to prepare a local plan to allow the process of making decisions on planning applications easier. The local authority first gathered evidence through consulting with the public, business members, a range of interested parties who are referred to ‘general consultation bodies’ and ‘speci?c consultation bodies’ (such as the Environment Agency and Highways Agency) to have a better understanding of local needs and planning issues in the local area. One of the main concern raised by the residents in the Canterbury District Local Plan (Canterbury City Council, 2017) is heavy traffic congestion, especially during peak times. Other local issues expressed including more support for local business and affordable housing, loss of greenfield land and impact on public services. The evidence is gathered to assess and identify issues and options on how to address the needs of the area. Meanwhile, Sustainability Appraisal was also needed to be prepared. Section 19 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 (The National Archives, 2004) states that local planning authority is required to undertake a sustainability appraisal of each of the proposals in a Local Plan during the preparation period.
The results obtained from evidence-gathering and Sustainable Appraisal were used by the local authority to develop a draft Local Plan document (known as the pre-submission document) to be published as stated in Reg. 19 of the 2012 Local Plan Regulations (The National Archives, 2012) for a six-week consultation period before submitting to the Secretary of State. On submission of the Local Plan as followed Reg. 22 of the 2012 Local Plan Regulations (The National Archives, 2012), the Council then published a Consultation Statement 27 which summarised the main issues of Canterbury District and how the comments received have been considered (Davis and Melling, 2017). The Sustainable Appraisal report was also issued for consultation.
An Independent Inspector then assessed whether the documents’ preparation process and consultation procedures met the requirement of legalisation and policy tests. As part of the assessment, the Inspector began the process of examination as mentioned in Reg. 24 of the 2012 Local Plan Regulations (The National Archives, 2012). The Local Plan was examined by Inspector Mike Moore who was appointed by the Secretary of State. Throughout the first part of the examination process, Mr Moore reviewed the draft submission Local Plan Document and a summary was prepared by the local authority regarding the local views and issues raised by the representations during the consultation session. The second part of the examination can be conducted in four ways: written representation, a roundtable discussion, informal hearing and formal hearing. The Inspector has the rights to decide on which procedure and Mr Moore had chosen public hearing. Public hearing sessions were conducted in July 2015 and July and September 2016 as stated in Canterbury District Local Plan (2017).
After the examination, Inspector issued a report stating whether the Local Plan was recommended for adoption or not. The local planning authority can request the Inspector to recommend ‘main modifications’ to the plan if it does not sound and legally compliant. If necessary changes are required to re-write the Plan, then it will be recommended to be withdrawn by the Inspector and the report will only be issued after consultation with the local authority. The Inspector’s report was issued on 15 June 2017 and concluded that the Local Plan was legally compliant, with subject to some main modifications in pursuance of Section 23(3) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 (The National Archives, 2004). As the report was positive, a meeting of Full Council was carried out to decide whether to adopt the Plan or not. The Canterbury District Local Plan 2011-2031was adopted because it includes all the main modifications made by the Inspector in accordance with Reg. 26 of the 2012 Local Plan Regulations (The National Archives, 2012). Aside from the Local Plan, the plan’s supporting strategies such as Transport Strategy was also adopted by the council.
After the Plan was adopted, the Council monitored the implementation of Local Plan and Sustainability Appraisal annually to ensure the overall Plan strategy and its policies were effectively delivered. The National Planning Practice Guidance (Davis and Melling, 2017) states that the results of monitoring are to be reported to the local planning authority via the Authority Monitoring Reports (AMRs). The AMRs enable the Council to monitor the contribution of Local Plan’s policies towards the achievement of the Plan’s vision and objectives, to predict whether the sustainability effects are accurate or not as well as to indicate unexpected results so that mitigation measures could be undertaken.
As requested by the inspector, Mr Moore, the council is also required, within one year of the Plan being adopted to evaluate on how demographic change relates to the projections of student populations and the overall housing need. This assessment must be published in order to decide if an early examination of the plan is necessary.
Local plan making considerations
There are considerations needed to be taken into account throughout the process of making the local plan. The local authority has to considered sustainability through assessing Sustainability Appraisal, make sure the Local Plan has conformity with National Policy such as the National Planning Policy Framework, identify and meet needs for land, finance for future infrastructure, and local concerns.
Sustainability Appraisal is involved in the Local Plan adoption process. Each stage of Local Plan is accompanied by a Sustainability Appraisal report to make sure the environmental and sustainability elements are fully considered throughout the decision-making procedures. Recommendations concerning the emerging plan policies are also prepared in Sustainability Appraisal reports supporting the Preferred Options Consultation Draft Local Plan and Publication Draft Local Plan (Davis and Melling, 2017). As discussed by the Ministry of Housing, Communities ; Local Government (2015), the sustainable appraisal proposals help the local planning authority to assess how the plan is going to contribute to sustainable development. In addition, the local authority must ensure the appraisal is conducted in accordance with relevant planning and environmental assessment legislation, for example, Environmental Impact Assessment which ensures the local authority has considered environmental protection when granting planning permission for project.
According to The National Planning Policy Framework (2012), the planning system is designed to achieve sustainable development and local plans act as the key driver to reflect the vision of local communities through sustainable development. Therefore, local plans must address the issues and implications on the aspects of economic, social and environmental change; as well as should identify more development opportunities and provide clear policies on what should be permitted. One of the policies set by Canterbury District Local Plan (Canterbury City Council, 2017) that delivers sustainable development is Policy SP1, which is largely based on the Planning Inspectorate model policy. In order to achieve sustainable development, the four Plan Objectives (Canterbury City Council, 2017) expressed in the Local Plan Vision have to be met which are strengthening and diversifying the local economy, meeting local housing need through provision of sufficient housing, protecting the built and natural environment as well as developing sustainable communities by providing adequate community facilities. The Council should always approach the development plans positively by striving towards sustainable development. Planning law requires that planning applications are only approved when they are in accord with the policies in this Local Plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise (NPPF, 2012).
The Local Plan has set out an economic strategy to sustain the economic growth of Canterbury District by expanding business opportunities and employment levels, along with the promotion of tourism industry. Upon achieving these objectives will contributes to funding for future infrastructure in Canterbury District. However, in order to achieve, sufficient land is needed to be allocated at the right locations to diversify the local economy. According to Development Requirements Study (Canterbury City Council, 2017), several sites are delivered by the Council in order to provide more land for business and employment purposes through the Plan period. As stated in paragraph 23 of NPPF (2012), local planning authorities are required to reach the scale and type of tourism development in town centres by allocating a range of appropriate areas. Employment Land Review (ELR) was carried out by the council and found out that there was sufficient employment land for Class B type of businesses such as for offices and light and general industrial uses (Canterbury City Council, 2017). The retention of current employment sites indicates these areas are still suitable to be used for employment purposes. New sites allocated for the Local Plan are assessed and considered being suitable and well-located for employment uses, subject to not exceeding the new employment land scale indicated in the Development Requirements Study (Canterbury City Council, 2017). According to the ELR (Canterbury City Council, 2017), the Council is able to supply158,649sqm of business space over the Plan period along with the release of the new and discounting proposed sites. In terms of tourism, the East Kent Growth Framework (EKGF) (Canterbury City Council, 2017) is set out to sustain long-term tourist economic growth across East Kent between 2017-2027 through supporting and expanding tourist and visitor facilities and leisure developments. Sustainable rural tourism is also a fundamental drive to bring businesses back to the countryside to develop the economy in the rural areas.
As mentioned earlier, the main issue expressed by the residents of Canterbury District is traffic congestion. Local authorities, neighbouring authorities and transport providers should work together to develop strategies that support sustainable development. As a result, one of the strategies developed by the local planning authority in the Local Plan is the preparation of the District Transport Strategy in 2017 (Canterbury City Council, 2017). The Strategy outlines the improvement of access to services, goods and opportunities as well as the provision of sustainable modes of transport. An example is promoting walking and cycling for short journeys and the use of public transport for longer journeys such as taking the bus or rail. Consequently, these help to achieve positive impacts of traffic and reliable travelling time and, reduce greenhouse gas emissions which then contribute to sustainable development. In accordance with the NPPF (2012), a Transport Statement or Transport Assessment should be conducted for any development that produces significant amounts of movement and such development should be located where travelling time is minimized and the application of sustainable transport modes is maximized.
The adoption process of the Local Plan is complex and needed to go through many different stages. The Plan was first prepared to gather evidence and the results obtained are published for consultation, then followed by examination and once the plan is adopted, monitoring is undertaken. The Local Plan must consider Sustainability Appraisal and local concerns, accord with National Policy, identify needs for land and possess adequate finance. The Local Plan was adopted after successfully going through the stages and fulfilling the considerations.
Canterbury City Council (2017) Canterbury District Local Plan. (pdf) Available at: https://www.canterbury.gov.uk/downloads/file/467/canterbury_district_local_plan_adopted_july_2017 (Accessed 4 July 2018)
Canterbury District Local Plan (2017) Local Plan Adoption Statement. (pdf) Available at: https://www.canterbury.gov.uk/downloads/file/643/local_plan_adoption_statement (Accessed 11 July 2018)
Davis, P. and Melling, A. (2017) Canterbury City Council: Sustainability Appraisal of the Canterbury District Local Plan-Post Adoption Statement. Amec Foster Wheeler Environment ; Infrastructure UK Limited. (pdf) Available at: https://www.canterbury.gov.uk/downloads/file/645/sustainability_appraisal_post_adoption_statement (Accessed 11 July 2018)
Ministry of Housing, Communities ; Local Government (2015) Strategic environmental assessment and sustainability appraisal. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/strategic-environmental-assessment-and-sustainability-appraisal#sustainability-appraisal-requirements-for-local-plans (Accessed 5 July 2018)
National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) (2012), Department for Communities and Local Government. (pdf) Available on: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/6077/2116950.pdf (Accessed from 17 July 2018)
The National Archives (2004) Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004. (pdf) Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2004/5/pdfs/ukpga_20040005_en.pdf (Accessed 5 July 2018
The National Archives (2012) Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012. (pdf) Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2012/767/pdfs/uksi_20120767_en.pdf (Accessed 5 July 2018)