With their old Local Plan having been due to expire in 2006, to much relief Hart District Council has finally adopted their new Local Plan (Strategy and Sites) for the next 12 year period (up to 2032).
For those who have been following the emerging plan in recent times, there are no real surprises. It moves forward without either of the contentious “mini towns” at Winchfield and Murrell Green, which have been discussed at various times in the process. Other than the site allocations, the focus of the Plan remains on developing inside settlement boundaries. However, from the developer/client perspective there are a few potential avenues to explore to see what is acceptable outside of settlement boundaries which wasn’t previously. These are:
On the face of it, the final category in that list allows for residential development on previously developed land in the countryside which wasn’t previously covered by the old Local Plan.
The policy for specialist housing outside of settlement boundaries (Policy H4) allows for “specialist and supported accommodation that meets the needs of older persons or others requiring specialist care”. Given that this Plan was prepared in accordance/tested for consistency with the 2012 National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) rather than the current one, there are some noticeable absentees. The most notable change in the NPPF which is not reflected in the new Plan is the broader definition of affordable housing (to include starter homes and discounted market sales housing) and the provision in the current NPPF for entry level homes on the edge of settlements (paragraph 71 of the NPPF). This provision is broadly consistent with the wording of Policy H4 so it will be interesting to see if the Council broaden the application of the policy to reflect the change in national policy. There is a requirement to review the plan within a 5 year period to ensure against prevailing inconsistencies.
As always with a new Local Plan there will be differing views on how to apply policies and disagreements about the provisions. From our perspective, however, it is far easier to advise clients when there is an up-to-date Plan than it was balancing an out of date Local Plan and the current NPPF provisions.
Should you wish to discuss, please contact Nick Cobbold.