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What do I need to know about the Ashfield Local Plan?

Wednesday 12 September

 

Ashfield District Council’s emerging Local Plan was withdrawn at an extraordinary meeting of the full Council on Thursday 6 September.

The Council is ambitious for growth and development and intends to progress a new Local Plan as soon as possible.

But what are the facts? Here are a few Frequently Asked Questions: 

 

Why have you withdrawn the Local Plan?

The Local Plan was withdrawn at full Council on 6th September 2018.  It was decided by Councillors to recommence with a new Local Plan. The Administration’s view was that a new fresh look at sites was required, including brownfield and rural areas. The Administration wants to be ambitious and proactive in developing a new Local Plan. 

 

Why do we need a Local Plan?

We are legally required by Government to produce a Local Plan.

This will determine for the next 15 years, where our housing and employment sites will be located, which in turn will determine where shops, greenspace, schools and healthcare will be provided. It also provides policies to help protect our heritage, promote economic regeneration and balance growth and protecting the environment.

Ashfield’s economy is growing, with more than 10,000 new jobs to be created over the next 15 years.  We need to offer local workers and their families a choice of housing to suit their needs and pay packets.

 

Why is it so important to have a Local Plan?

By having an agreed Local Plan we have more control of where development is located, how much and what type. 

We can also then ensure that we maximise the level of developer contributions to help fund necessary infrastructure, eg roads, greenspace, healthcare and educational facilities.  Developer contributions can also be put towards affordable housing.

An approved Local Plan is good for Ashfield as it will give those who want to invest and develop in the District the confidence that particular sites are available for particular purposes.

 

So won’t this mean a free for all by developers?

Developers will still need to go through the planning application process and we have a number of “saved” policies which we can use to determine applications.  We still have Planning Committee which determines approvals or refusals, and also the right of appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.

 

So will the Government step in and approve the withdrawn Local Plan over our heads?

The Council has taken a democratic decision to withdraw the emerging Local Plan and the Administration intends to start work on a new plan immediately. The Council has advised the Government that we will progress a new Local Plan as quickly as possible.

 

How much is this withdrawal likely to cost?

We will need to commission new evidence studies and new public consultations.  Our early calculations were clearly laid out in the Council report and we anticipate around £0.5m. This figure could change and is dependent on a range of factors outside our control.

 

How will the new Local Plan be prepared?

We are working on a new detailed timetable which we intend to publish. We will need to commence fresh evidence gathering, call for sites and consulting with experts, key stakeholders, Members and the local community.  This will include:

  • A renewed call for available sites through the Strategic Housing and Employment Land Availability Assessment (SHELAA) process
  • A Sustainability Appraisal (assessing the economic, social and environmental characteristics of the Plan and sites);
  • A landscape assessment will be undertaken for all sites within the countryside or Green Belt;
  • A Green Belt Review will be undertaken to understand how sites fulfil the purposes of Green Belt;
  • The Council is already working closely with the County Council Highways Department to understand any highway constraints;
  • The Council is using its mapped based information to gain an understanding of any physical constraints on the sites, such as mineshafts, flooding and contamination.

 

Once this is gathered:

  • Public consultation 6 weeks
  • Publication Local Plan and consultation
  • Submission to Secretary of State
  • Local Plan Examination Hearing
  • Proposed modifications consultation.
  • Inspector’s Report
  • Adoption by Council

 

Will there be public consultation?

Yes, there will be plenty of opportunities for public consultation.  We will positively encourage active involvement by the community.

 

Why do we need new homes?

The government requires Councils to enable developers to build an agreed number of homes each year to cater for growth expected in our area.  The number of new dwellings needed will be informed by a local housing needs assessment calculated using the standard methodology as set out in national Planning Practice Guidance. This approach is based on published housing growth projections with an upwards adjustment to take account of affordability.

The standard methodology provides a minimum annual requirement figure.

 

More information available here