Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Local Plans: fail to plan, plan to fail?

Thanet District Council recently started an eight-week programme of public consultation on its preferred options to prepare a new Local Plan.

The aim of these efforts is to ensure the plan is National Planning Policy Framework-compliant, and guide future growth, development and regeneration up until 2031.

And that got us thinking. The Local Plan is meant to be an overarching strategic planning document, providing the framework to guide the determination of current and future planning applications – but how many other local authorities are actually compliant?

After a little desk research by the Kentcentric team, here’s a snapshot of Kent’s NPPF compliance:


Local Authority
Draft Plan Published
Plan Submitted
Examiners Report Published
Adopted
Ashford Borough Council
30/10/2006
03/11/2006
17/06/2008
10/07/2008
Canterbury City Council
05/06/2014



Dartford Borough Council
02/09/2010
07/02/2011
01/08/2011
26/09/2011
Dover District Council
29/01/2009
24/06/2009
21/01/2010
24/02/2010
Gravesham Borough Council
18/12/2012
22/05/2013
22/07/2014
30/09/2014
Maidstone Borough Council
21/03/2014



Medway Council




Sevenoaks District Council
11/02/2010
02/06/2010
18/01/2011
22/02/2011
Shepway District Council
27/07/2011
31/01/2012
10/06/2013
18/09/2013
Swale Borough Council
10/08/13



Thanet District Council




Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council
31/08/2006
31/08/2006
15/08/2007
25/09/2007
Tunbridge Wells Borough Council
29/04/2009
12/08/2009
06/04/2010
17/06/2010

When it comes to Medway, the council’s opinion is as follows: under the Planning & Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 all Structure and Local Plan policies were saved for three years from the date of the commencement of the act or from the date the plan was adopted, if later.

As all of Medway’s Local Plan policies were in force when the act commenced, they were all due to expire after three years, on 27 September 2007. If there were no appropriate Local Development Documents adopted which could replace Local Plan policies, however, local planning authorities could apply to the Secretary of State to issue a direction to save policies until such time as they were replaced. Medway Council consequently applied to the Secretary of State to save those policies which remained in conformity with national and regional planning policies and the Secretary of State issued a direction on 21 September 2007.

One thing is for certain, for those authorities currently non-compliant in the eyes of the NPPF change isn’t possible overnight. Take Thanet as an example, the council’s timetable aims to have got the new Local Plan to the Secretary of State by February 2016, it will then go through an Examination in Public (May 2016), followed by Inspector’s Report (July 2016) and be adopted by February 2017 – that’s 25 months away.

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