Local plan on course – but no housing in South Downs Park

Monday 22nd October 2018 4:00 am
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Planners at Penn’s Place – East Hampshire District Council’s HQ in Petersfield – are working towards a deadline later this year for the Local Plan ()

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EAST Hampshire District Council’s Local Plan is progressing through its initial stages, undergoing first scrutiny by the local plan working group and cabinet members this month.

District councillors will all be able to consider the sites submitted at the beginning of October, and the plan is on track to be produced in draft form by the end of October, or early November, before progressing to cabinet and full council at the end of the year.

The Local Plan, which replaces the current Joint Core Strategy (JCS) between EHDC and the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA), will be out for public consultation at the beginning of 2019.

It is the key local planning policy document and sets planning priorities and policies for development which cover housing, business, infrastructure, health, community facilities and the environment.

According to an EHDC spokesman: “It shows what development will be permitted and where. It is used to ensure the district grows in a joined-up, well thought-out way that includes the right mix of things communities need to be sustainable and successful.”

Local Plans have always had a set lifespan of 15 years before they are reviewed, however, the new national requirement is to review plans every five years.

The district council declared it can demonstrate 6.57 years of deliverable housing land supply, which includes the statutory five per cent buffer, in April.

The revised National Planning Policy framework states local authorities should update and identify annually, a supply of specific deliverable sites, sufficient to provide a minimum of five years’ worth of housing.

The plan sets out houses, employment sites and infrastructure in the parts of East Hampshire outside the South Downs Park. Areas inside the park – more than half of East Hampshire including parts of Liphook – will be covered by a separate plan drawn up by the South Downs National Park Authority.

Angela Glass, district councillor for Bramshott and Liphook who is also EHDC’s portfolio holder for planning, said: “Whether you’re trying to get on the housing ladder, looking for a job close to home, or use local shops, schools and roads – the Local Plan will affect you and your quality of life.

“This plan covers areas of East Hampshire outside the SDNP where we want to create sustainable towns and villages with the right blend of homes, jobs and facilities to match the needs of the community.

“To do this we need a plan which incorporates our residents’ local knowledge, concerns and understanding so we can plan successful, better-connected, sustainable communities.”

Revising the Local Plan will also mean existing and developing neighbourhood plans may have to change to align with new guidelines, which could mean more work and more engagement with local communities.

But Bramshott and Liphook’s emerging Neighbourhood Development Plan, which aims to run along parallel time lines with EHDC’s, will benefit from the revised blueprint, since any additional housing allocations that may be required can still be incorporated.

Under the current JCS the housing allocation for the parish is covered by phase one of 155 dwellings at Griggs Green’s Lowsley Farm, with a further 175 more due in phase two.

Work will also be carried out by EHDC on a community facility audit to catalogue the village halls, pubs and other facilities communities currently use –or may need in future.

An open space, sport and recreation study will establish the current provision in the part of the district outside the national park and what will be needed in future.

The district council is also required to provide a certain number of pitches for gypsies, travellers and plots for travelling show people to meet needs.

The location and number will be identified in EHDC’s revised Local Plan following consultation.

Bramshott and Liphook residents have been concerned about the SDNPA’s lack of acknowledgement of parcels of land in the park, including at Griggs Green, belonging to the Northcott Trust, Bohunt Park, which is owned by Green Village Investments (GVI) and the Wheatsheaf Enclosure off Portsmouth Road.

Chris Paterson, head of communities at the SDNPA, stated at last year’s Bramshott and Liphook NDP design forum that “the boundary will not be moved for the unforeseeable future” and the SDNPA has not included the parish in its Local Plan proposals.

SDNPA chairman Margaret Paren who has repeatedly ruled out major housing development inside the park, said the document looked ‘rather different’ from most other Local Plans because she explained: “It must recognise the national importance of the landscapes and our duty to conserve and enhance them.”

She said: “The plan puts these nationally important landscapes first – they are the reason the South Downs became a national park and they must sit at the heart of every planning decision we make, but our communities matter too.”

The SDNPA’s first plan was submitted to the Secretary of State on April 27, for examination by the Government and the current timetable aims for the plan to be adopted this autumn.

Once adopted, it will replace all existing planning policies within the national park.

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