Regulation 17-Independent Examination

The Regulation 16 consultation period ended on 24 January 2020.  

Details on progress can be found at: https://www.basingstoke.gov.uk/BURNP together with the consultation documents and supporting documentation.

 

All the representations made on the Regulation 16 consultation can be found at: https://basingstoke-consult.objective.co.uk/portal/fpt/np/burnp_2?page=0&pageSize=40&status=&tab=list&sortMode=response_date&q%3AsortMode=

 

Regulation 17 - Independent Examination

 

Ms Janet Cheesley was appointed to carry out an Independent Examination of the Burghclere Neighbourhood Plan. The Examination commenced on 3 February and has now closed. The Examiner has since provided her final report, which recommends that the Neighbourhood Plan proceeds to referendum, subject to a number of proposed modifications. The report is available to view below:

 

The Neighbourhood Plan has now reached an advanced stage in the process and consequently will have increased significance in the decision making process for planning applications in Burghclere parish.

The next significant stage in the process is for a local referendum to be held in order for local residents to vote on whether or not they would like the Burghclere Parish Neighbourhood Plan, as amended in light of the Examiner’s recommendations, to form part of the Development Plan for the Parish. In the event of a positive vote at referendum, the neighbourhood plan automatically forms part of the borough’s Development Plan.

Ordinarily the referendum would be held within 56 days of the decision to proceed to referendum. However, due to the current situation relating to COVID-19, there is a moratorium on election events, including Neighbourhood Plan referendums. The borough council will provide clarification regarding the future timescales for the referendum as soon as is practical to do so in light of the current situation.

During the examination all correspondence between the council and the examiner relevant to the examinations was placed on the council’s website together with the examiner's correspondence with the council and parish council on matters of clarification.  This can be accessed at: https://www.basingstoke.gov.uk/BURNP

 

Background to the Independent Examination

 

B&DBC have appointed the Independent Examiner, Ms Janet Cheesley, whose appointment was approved by the Qualifying Body (Parish Council) at its meeting on 2 December 2019.

The purpose of an examination is limited to determining whether a Neighbourhood

Plan meets the basic conditions, and other statutory requirements, or not.

After reviewing the comments subsequent to the Regulation 16 consultation, the Independent Examiner, Ms Janet Cheesley will commence her examination on 3 February 2020.  

The Neighbourhood Planning Independent Examiner Referral Service has published "Guidance for service users and examiners".  This is attached below for easy reference.

Additional 2-week comment period for three significant recommended modifications

On 18 February 2020 the examiner advised both Burghclere Parish Council and Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council of three significant recommended modifications to the Burghclere Neighbourhood Plan.  The full correspondence received from the examiner can be viewed at https://www.basingstoke.gov.uk/BURNP

In accordance with guidance to examiners in the ‘NPIERS Guidance to Service Users and Examiners’ the examiner is seeking comments over a two week period on the three proposed modifications to the Plan.  The option to comment on the proposed modifications is now open and will close at 4pm on Thursday 5 March 2020.

Please submit any comments before 4pm on Thursday 5 March to the council’s Planning Policy Team either:

 

via email at: local.plan@basingstoke.gov.uk

 

Or

 

via post at: Planning Policy Team, Civic Offices, London Road, Basingstoke, RG21 4AH

 

The examiner’s recommended modifications and reasons are set out below:

  1. The deletion of the three year time limit for the development, or for obtaining planning permission, for the allocated housing site.
     

  2. The deletion of Policy B3
     

  3. The change of the end date of the Plan from 2036 to 2029

Reasons:

Policy B3 identifies a preferred direction of future growth.  This may be released if the site identified in Policy B2 is not developed within 3 years from when this Plan is made; if a new Local Plan requires a greater number of new homes to 2036; or if the presumption in favour of sustainable development is engaged.

The Examiner has realised that there is some internal contradiction in the Plan as Policy B3 refers to development of the site identified in Policy B2 within 3 years and Paragraph 5.19 refers to planning permission being gained within 3 years.

The principle of imposing a 3 year limit, in which ever form, is the Examiner’s concern. 

 

A key thrust of the National Planning Policy Framework is the timely delivery of housing. Nevertheless, Local Plan Policy SS5 does not specify any phasing requirements.  The Examiner has no clear evidence to justify the requirement for the site identified in Policy B2 to be developed or permitted within 3 years.  As the suitability of that site for development has been established, the Examiner does not see how the suitability would change after 3 years.  If it is not developed or permitted in that time, the allocation would be lost.  The Examiner sees no reason why this site only has 3 years to be developed or permitted, when Local Plan Policy SS5 effectively allows up to 2029 for other similar sites within other parishes to be developed.  There is no clear justification to make the delivery requirements for the development of this site more onerous than elsewhere in the Borough.  Therefore, the Examiner recommends that reference to a 3 year time limit, in whatever form, is deleted from the Plan.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council has agreed to launch the preparation of an updated Local Plan.  Potential Issues and Options consultation is due in the summer of this year.  The Parish Council, conscious that this neighbourhood plan is progressing in the early stages of the Local Plan Review and in the absence of an indicative housing number, chose to extend the plan period to 2036 to provide flexibility should circumstances change.  In doing so, the Settlement Boundary has been drawn tightly, allowing little opportunity for future land for development within the village.

A neighbourhood plan can have an end date beyond the Local Plan and can identify reserve sites.  The PPG states: Neighbourhood plans should consider providing indicative delivery timetables, and allocating reserve sites to ensure that emerging evidence of housing need is addressed.  This can help minimise potential conflicts and ensure that policies in the neighbourhood plan are not overridden by a new local plan (extract Paragraph: 009 Reference ID: 41-009-20190509).

A preferred direction of future growth is identified within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), although this is not a reserve site.  This is site F in the Site Assessment Report.  That report highlights that the site has the potential to accommodate significantly more than 10 - 15 dwellings, risking over-development.  The Examiner’s concern is that the scale of development may constitute major development in the AONB where paragraph 172 in the NPPF states: Planning permission should be refused for major development other than in exceptional circumstances, and where it can be demonstrated that the development is in the public interest.

Without knowing an indicative housing figure for the 2029 - 2036 period, the Plan has not directly addressed whether major development in the preferred direction of future growth would have regard to national policy in this respect.

The area identified as a preferred direction of future growth is neither a post plan period reserve site, nor an allocation within the plan period.  Whether the scale of development would constitute an exceptional circumstance for major development within the AONB has not been tested and the area proposed may not even be sufficient for the scale of development that may be required for the 2029 - 2036 period.  In these circumstances and to have regard to paragraph 16 in the NPPF, particularly that the plan is prepared positively and is deliverable, the Examiner recommends that the Plan period is altered to an end date of 2029 and that Policy B3 is deleted.

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