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Planning New Development? – Check The Local Plan


You know what it is like, you wait 15 years for a Local Plan then 3 come along at once. This month Emsworth, Havant and Portsmouth all made progress on their local plans.

Why is it important – in theory, all local planning decisions are driven by the local plan. If an area needs a new doctors surgery before proposed housing can be added, expect this to be costed into Section 106 arrangements for the developer as part of any planning approval. Same for new roads and infrastructure.

Want to build something different – check the local plan – if it is not already within the definition of what can go into that area, it will never get approved.

If proposed government changes happen, you will not need planning permission anymore – if you propose something which is inline with the Local Plan, approval is automatic – so these Local Plans and their content are really important.

Didn't We Have Them Already? 

After a fashion, yes. As an example, Portsmouth's was approved in 2006 and was due to be replaced in 2011. Since then there have been many supplementary documents which define specific aspects of local planning such as the Article 4 Directions defining Conservation Areas and the Supplementary Planning Documents which define the rules for local HMO's,but all this has done is to make the task of planners and developers harder – the original document is out of date, it never had the level of detail to allow developers to price in expected Section 106 costs, subsequent documents have never addressed this and as a result, there is much debate over a number of proposed development sites and associated infrastructure whether you look at the city centre, Tipner or St James Hospital to name just 3 examples.

Where Are We Now?


Havant is ahead of Portsmouth in development of their plan, having reached the stage where it undergoes independent review. Here is the detail on the Havant announcement:

Independent examination of Havant Borough Council's Local Plan

During the week starting Monday 12 July, the Local Plan submitted by Havant Borough Council to central government will enter its first independently managed hearings which will address strategic issues previously raised by key parties.

The hearings will be held online and anyone can follow proceedings as they happen.

Over several years, and with resident participation throughout, Havant Borough Council has developed a definitive document which will inform and guide long-term development within the borough.

The hearings will be managed by inspectors appointed by the Secretary of State. This set of hearings will focus on strategic matters and address previously-raised issues regarding soundness and legal compliance within the Local Plan.

Hearings can be viewed live at www.havant.gov.uk/local-plan-examination. Morning sessions are expected to start at 9.30am, and afternoon sessions expected from 1.30pm.

"I am pleased to see us reach this important step of the Local Plan process, particularly as many residents will be heard by the inspectors," said Councillor Clare Satchwell, Cabinet Lead for Planning, Hayling Seafront Strategy and Coastal Management.

"We invite all residents and businesses to watch the hearings online and see for themselves the considerable efforts made to provide a robust, long-term plan for future development in the borough."

For more information - including a draft programme for the hearings - visit www.havant.gov.uk/local-plan-examination.

Emsworth & Milton

OK – this one is a Neighbourhood Plan, so this will form a more detailed component relating to a neighbourhood within the area covered by the Local Plan. Whereas Local Plans tend to be put together by the local council in consultation with residents and local business, a Neighbourhood Plan is put together by residents and local business and then goes through a process of consultation and approval to become, effectively, a subsection of the Local Plan.

This is what has happened in Emsworth in Havant and is underway in Milton in Portsmouth.

Here is the detail from the Emsworth announcement:

Results announced for the Emsworth Neighbourhood Plan referendum

A referendum for Emsworth residents was held on Thursday 8 July, where 91 per cent of votes cast supported the implementation of the Emsworth Neighbourhood Plan.

The Emsworth Neighbourhood Plan sets out a vision for the area up to 2036 and is supported by a set of planning polices and a series of specific projects. Prepared through extensive public consultation, it reflects identified local needs in Emsworth while also having regard for the forthcoming Havant Borough Council Local Plan.

The turnout was as follows:

Number cast in favour of a Yes - 1,734 (91%)

Number cast in favour of a No - 168 (9%)

Number of ballot papers rejected - 1

Turnout - 1,903 (23%)

For more information on the plan and referendum results, visit www.havant.gov.uk/emsworth-neighbourhood-plan-referendum.


Portsmouth will prove more problematic. There is a government requirement that Portsmouth build 17,700 new homes during the period of the Local Plan, so in theory the Plan will not get the necessary government approval unless it clearly details where those 17,700 houses are going to be built.

The Lib Dem council are saying 17,700 homes are just not feasible or sensible and when it goes to public consultation, there is bound to be substantial support for this view.

So how we get from here to a plan approved by central and local government with the buy in of the local populace is going to be a challenge for all involved.

You can see a draft of the proposed local plan here:https://democracy.portsmouth.gov.uk/documents/s31724/Draft%20Portsmouth%20Plan%20-%20Appendix%20A%20-%20Draft%20Reg%20A.pdf

You may well ask where the number of 17,700 homes came from. Well, there are a number of local agencies whose members are local councils and they try to build plans which work for the area, avoiding the issues that arise when local councils all act independently of each other. Two such organisations are the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership which tends to focus on business needs and PUSH (Partnership for Urban South Hampshire) which produced a 'housing need' for the area and then divided that between the member councils, resulting in a 17,700 target for Portsmouth.(More on PUSH here:https://www.push.gov.uk/)So you could argue that if the number mandated by Central Government is wrong, why did Portsmouth along with its 11 other member councils in PUSH come up with it in the 1st place – but we are where we are and the challenge now is to find a solution that enables the development of the city without undue burden on local infrastructure or facilities, however many homes are to be added. At present, the Local Plan does not appear to do that – so we urge our members to be actively involved in the consultation that is about to start.

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