Frequently asked questions regarding the Havant Borough Local Plan.
Following examination in 2021, the Planning Inspectorate raised some concerns about elements in the proposed Local Plan. Bearing in mind addressing their requests – and recognising the massive and unexpected changes to society since work first began on the plan – the decision was made to withdraw the plan and develop a new one.
Government requires all local authorities to provide an up-to-date Local Plan – a vision and framework for the future development of the area that sets out the local needs and opportunities for the borough. This is driven by annual housing targets set by government; the council must not only meet these targets, but ensure a five-year housing supply is available in the borough.
Government set out how many new homes need to be provided in the Borough through a calculation called the ‘standard method’. The Council must take this figure forward and plan for this level of housing. If that cannot be accommodated, an extremely robust evidence base would be needed to demonstrate why that is the case and the Council would need to explore how the shortfall could be provided in neighbouring authorities.
As much development as possible should take place on brownfield sites – they are inherently more sustainable than greenfield urban extension sites. The previous Local Plan reflected the Borough’s Regeneration Strategy and the Council’s push to achieve the regeneration of Havant, Waterlooville and Leigh Park Town Centres together with Hayling Island seafront. A large number of additional brownfield sites were also identified for development as well across the borough. In particular, brownfield sites (particularly regeneration sites) benefit from better accessibility to public transport, shops and services and so are often suitable for a higher density of development.
Every brownfield site which is available for development, suitable for development and deliverable was proposed for allocation in the previous Local Plan – although the deliverability of some sites was challenged. In the new local plan for the Borough, the same approach will be taken with every potential brownfield site allocated for development. Nonetheless, significant greenfield development is inevitably needed in order to meet the need for housing – this cannot be avoided.
Are developers prevented from submitting planning applications until the new local plan is in place?
No. Government require a continuous supply of new homes. By law, the Council cannot prevent planning applications for new development being submitted. With the delay in the local plan and the Government requirement for a constant supply of new homes, this will increase development pressure in the Borough.
No, although something called tilted balance will make the borough more open to development, a series of decision making principles will inform and guide the council’s approach to all planning applications.
The HDPS sets out how the Council will assess planning applications for housing prior to the new local plan being in place. It acknowledges the tests the council has to work to, and highlights the terms under which a planning application will be assessed.
A Local Plan is required by Government. Additionally, it provides further informed guidance through dedicated policies bespoke to the needs of the borough. The HDPS sets out the approach to determining planning applications for new homes until the local plan is put in place.
Some elements of the previous Local Plan will be incorporated into the new plan, but a range of original research, data collation and outreach will be required to ensure the plan is contemporary. Additionally, it will reflect a number of laws and strategies which have changed since work first started on the previous plan. For example, the new plan will incorporate the council’s regeneration strategy and the new Environment Act brought in by government.
Will the new Local Plan reflect the Government’s Planning White Paper with the inclusion of growth, renewal and protection areas?
At the time of writing, the government has yet to respond to consultation proposals included in the Planning for the Future white paper which was published in August 2020. Though it is clear through the Levelling Up white paper that reform of the planning system remains a priority, it is not yet clear whether the government will move to a more zonal based planning system. Any new Local Plan will however need to be informed by any changes to national policy to ensure it is ‘sound’.
Simply put, if the borough does not meet the targets set by government, planning powers will be removed from the council. Instead, the government will make planning decisions on behalf of the council, accepting ad-hoc developments to arbitrarily meet housing need, rather than from a locally informed and controlled perspective. In the worst case scenarios, this can be forced on the Brough either through Government putting together a local plan or by planning inspectors determining larger planning applications.
Does the concern the inspectors raised about the Hayling Island Transport Assessment mean that no development will take place
No, the inspectors require that further information will be needed to reach a clear view and this work is underway. In the meantime, the Housing Delivery Position Statement requires that developers submitting planning applications address the full transport impact of their development, including on summertime traffic and weekends.