18 August 2019 Newsbrief Newsbrief 54 Consultation on the Main Modifications to Local Plan
Lancaster City Council has just launched an eight week consultation on the proposed Main Modifications to the Local Plan. You may already have read their email alert about this which has been sent to everyone who responded to the previous rounds of consultation on the Local Plan. (If you haven’t seen this we suggest checking your spam folder, which is where this email may have ended up). Full details of the proposed modifications and the consultation timetable are to be found on the Council’s website at : http://www.lancaster.gov.uk/planning/planning-policy/local-plan-modification-consultation
What this means
We are now faced with (yet another) round of consultations. The ‘rules’ stipulate that only representations on the Main Modifications will be considered and that previous representations should NOT be repeated - this includes all the objections we have made previously and the objections we made at the recent Hearing Sessions. The deadline for submission is Monday 7th October 2019 - this may seem a long way off but there’s a lot of detailed material for us to consider and time will fly!
As reported in previous Newsbriefs, CLOUD members attended and spoke at the Hearing Sessions on the Local Plan conducted by the Planning Inspector in April and May this year. During our time at these sessions we learnt quite a lot about the planning process: not just the large numbers of no doubt highly paid QCs and consultants who are involved, but also the concept of ‘Statements of Common Ground’. These are agreements, drawn up in private in the margins of the hearings, between the developers/house builders on the one side and the Council on the other. It is these Statements of Common Ground that have now been turned into the Main Modifications in this latest consultation.
The aim of these statements is to resolve areas of disagreement over the Local Plan and so clear the way to an agreed version which the Inspector can then approve as being ‘legally compliant and sound in all respects’. Statements of Common Ground are apparently a normal and legitimate part of the local plan process and are aimed at minimising the number of unresolved objections left outstanding at the end of the hearings. Where issues do remain unresolved and objectors maintain that the Plan is unsound, the Inspector has to decide whether to accept or reject the objection. This he will do in his final report which will not be issued until some time after the end of the consultation period on these Main Modifications.
Next Steps for CLOUD
CLOUD needs to respond to this consultation - to simply say nothing could look like acquiescence or acceptance of the Plan in general and Bailrigg Garden Village in particular. We need to work out what form our response takes and any suggestions from CLOUD members will be most welcome. The CLOUD committee will be meeting in the next few weeks to discuss this and we’ll issue a further Newsbrief then. At this stage we should make clear to you that CLOUD was not a party to any of the Statements of Common Ground produced during the Hearing Sessions - We spoke, we made our objections but we were simply spectators (and rather bemused ones!) to the Statement of Common Ground process. Writing yet another set of objections is clearly unwelcome, but we think this will be the final consultation on the Local Plan, or - to borrow the lyrics of a well known song (!)
This could be the last time
Maybe the last time
I don't know
Details of the Main Modifications
The Main Modifications are set out in 3 schedules http://www.lancaster.gov.uk/planning/planning-policy/local-plan-modification-consultation
Schedule 1 comprising :
Modifications to the Strategic Policies and Land Allocations DPD Schedule. There is is a detailed 24 page summary of all the main modifications, setting out the original text, proposed modification and reasons for the change. There is also a track change version of the DPD, presenting these changes in a different format.
Sustainability Appraisal Addendum - this is a sustainability reassessment taking account of the main modifications.
Habitats Regulations Assessment - reassessment in light of the main modifications.
Schedule 2 Policies Map, comprising District wide map and inset maps.
Schedule 3 comprising :
Modifications to the Development Management DPD.
Sustainability Appraisal Addendum - reassessment taking account of the main modifications.
Habitats Regulations Assessment update - reassessment taking account of the main modifications.
Our initial review of these documents suggests that modifications to the Strategic Policies and Land Allocations DPD is the most critical document for CLOUD. This covers housing numbers and Bailrigg Garden Village amongst other issues. The sustainability and habitat re-assessments, while important in their own right, don’t seem to cover any issues on which CLOUD has raised objections previously.
Separately from all the above, CLOUD needs to arrange its 2019 AGM. Our constitution states that this must be held during the month of October. We propose fixing a date late in the month. This will give as much time as possible for any developments to emerge after the 7th October closing date for the Main Modification consultation. Watch this space for further details