ALDBOURNE NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN
THE CASE FOR SITE ALLOCATION: FROM PLACE STUDIO, NDP Planning Consultants (February 2022)
PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION WHICH CLARIFIES THE QUESTION OF SITE ALLOCATIONS IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN.
The Examiner for your Neighbourhood Plan will need to see evidence that any decision taken by the Parish Council about allocation – or not – of the Lottage Farm site in the Neighbourhood Plan is based on strong planning evidence, and that all in the community have had an opportunity to see and comment on that evidence. Please therefore read this note which provides the basic professional evidence from your plan consultants – Place Studio – that led to the currently proposed allocation.
ALLOCATING THE LOTTAGE FARM SITE
- Wiltshire Council proposed a target for Aldbourne of 40 houses to be built over the next plan period. Your Parish Council have now formally agreed that figure.
- The Housing Needs Study suggested a need to provide 17 ‘affordable’ houses.
- The Lottage Farm site would deliver around 30 houses, including around 12 affordable.
- This alone would deliver the majority of the required 40; no significant further developments would then happen (though ‘infill’ projects can still occur to deliver the remaining 10 or so).
- The AONB Planning Officer agreed that the Lottage Farm site – just the southern part as proposed – was the only supportable site amongst all those listed and visited.
- This conclusion was also reached in the independent assessment (by AECOM) of all sites put forward for consideration.
- Wiltshire Council planning officers have raised no objection to the allocation of the site (and see later).
- Two Landscape Assessments concluded that development of the southern part of the site was appropriate in principle.
- Historic England raised no heritage concerns about the proximity of the site to the listed Alma Barn and Cottage.
- Wiltshire Highways raised no concern about the traffic impacts of a development of around 30 houses.
- Thames Water raised no concerns about additional water abstraction resulting from the development.
- NB. In relation to the loss of agricultural land, decisions about the use of any land are taken solely by the landowner; the planning system can only influence the specific choices for future land use.
- While Wiltshire Council are unable to provide a 5 year housing land supply – as is the case now – taking forward this allocation would prevent predatory planning applications on sites already known and deemed unsuitable or even new sites that landowners may wish to develop. In relation to this, Wiltshire Council have stated the following: “Removing the site without identifying alternatives would lead to the possibility of a deficit against housing requirements for the village over the plan period, which could lead to the risk of speculative housing development proposals being granted, or the need for Wiltshire Council to allocate a site/sites through a review of the Wiltshire Housing Site Allocations Plan.” As a result of local concerns:
- The next version of the plan would include the following statement about the site: “No development shall take place until the issues around flooding and sewage along Lottage Road are addressed to the satisfaction of Aldbourne Parish Council”.
- It could also include further design and layout requirements; for example, about heights and perhaps mix of house size and other factors, but please note that site boundary, parking standards etc. are beyond the remit of Neighbourhood Plans. For more about Place Studio and our commitment to communities, go to: www.placestudio.com
SITE ALLOCATIONS IN THE DRAFT NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN FOLLOWING THE REG.14 CONSULTATION WHICH IS NOW CLOSED
Of the 140 or so comments received in response to the draft Aldbourne Neighbourhood Plan, around 94 were objections to any development on the sites along Lottage Road, especially Lottage Farm.
As a result, the site allocations may be removed from the plan if the Parish council agrees with this action and before it goes to the next stage of the formal regulation process. Click here for an explanation of the planning process for Neighbourhood Plans.
Please read on because that is most certainly not the end of this stage of the process.
Clarification on key points raised.
From the dates on which these objections were made, and from much of the wording used, it was clear that most objections were as a result of a Facebook and leaflet campaign that included some factually incorrect information.
It is very important that everyone in the community is aware of the correct facts relevant to this stage of the formal NDP Regulation process.
The key points to note are:
- Need for housing:
- As with all Neighbourhood Plans, Wiltshire Council provided the most up to date figure of the amount of new housing the plan would be expected to provide. That was 40 houses.
- The Wiltshire Council’s Aldbourne Housing Needs survey, on the question about affordable housing, generated a need in the parish for 17 affordable homes (this is also a figure calculated by them). The two sites in the draft plan would have provided this, so see later for the implications of removing them.
- Farmland: The part of the Lottage Farm site described in the Plan is not technically farmland.
- AONB: Because Aldbourne is in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the AONB’s planning officer visited all potential sites submitted following the Call for Sites. The only sites she agreed could go forward were those in the draft Plan.
- As is required, two independent Landscape Assessments (which have to consider views from footpaths) were done of the parts of both sites proposed for development. Both Assessments supported development.
- School Numbers: At present the school takes pupils from well outside the parish. It is unlikely that every household in the proposed Lottage Road development will have primary age children, and If more children moved into the village they would have priority for future places, making the school more locally based than it is now.
- Replacement Barns: The land adjacent to the footpath leading to East Leaze and next to Lottage Road Farm has been sold and is now a ploughed field. The topography of the land behind the proposed new housing would be very unlikely to be developed.
On one absolutely key issue – flooding and sewage – the objections were fully justified, however please see this next section.
Negative Implications of removing Site Allocations from the NDP
- At present, Wiltshire cannot prove they have a 5 year supply of housing land, leaving everywhere – including Aldbourne – open to inappropriate, predatory developments. If the Plan had gone through with the sites included, Wiltshire would only have to show they have a 3 year supply, which they do have.
- This alone would have protected us, as would the fact that the rough target of 40 houses would have been achieved. We will now be open to developments we do not want and very likely to provide less than the required number of affordable homes.
- Taking this further, some of the work behind the plan had to consider using only parts of the sites that had been put forward (for instance the Windley Ridge site). That evidence is likely to now be used against us, so we can probably expect a new application quite soon for a smaller development on Castle Street, maybe also applications for parts of other sites.
- Regardless of whether or not the site is included in the Plan, the current Outline application by Hannick Homes for Lottage Farm may receive permission at any time.
- Without the Allocated Sites in the Neighbourhood Plan, we have less control over the next stage details for the development that would come forward in a Full planning application. Decisions on issues such as detailed design, energy, parking etc. would rest solely with Wiltshire Council.
If the Hannick Homes’ application is refused by Wiltshire Council, they would no doubt appeal. If that appeal was granted (far easier with no 5 year land supply), it is possible that any attempt to ensure that the sewage issue is properly addressed before construction starts would not even be allowed.
It is not normally possible for any plan, including a Neighbourhood Plan, to put in a formal restriction on starting construction before a particular improvement is put in place (in this case improvements to the drain/sewer system). We will, however, still include a policy on this in the Plan because the NDP Examiner may support it because of its local significance.
You probably have your own views on what would happen if this was just left to closed door discussions between Wiltshire Council and Thames Water without any Parish Council involvement.
Finally, and very importantly, the response to the draft NDP from Wiltshire Council included the following, which supports the comments above:
“Removing the sites without identifying alternatives would lead to the possibility of a deficit against housing requirements for the village over the plan period, which could lead to the risk of speculative housing development proposals being granted, or the need for Wiltshire Council to allocate a site/sites through a review of the Wiltshire Housing Site Allocations Plan.”
Aldbourne NDP Steering Group E: email@example.com
Regulation 14 Community Consultation is now closed
Thank you to all those who let us have their views in response to this formal consultation about land use in the parish of Aldbourne.
All of those comments will be taken into consideration to formulate the revised draft Neighbourhood Plan as we go forward to the next stages (see later).
As a reminder, our Neighbourhood Plan is a planning document with legal status and will be used as part of the planning application process for new developments or changes to existing buildings. It also provides a good reference document when considering other community matters. It aims to meet the needs of our community arising from public consultations and surveys about:
- Affordable housing for those, of all ages, who cannot afford open market housing
- Community infrastructure: parking spaces, sports facilities
- Protection of our natural environment
- Landscapes in the surrounding area
- Open spaces within our communities
- Protection of our heritage: listed buildings, historical sites, buildings of special interest
- Protection against speculative and unwanted development
The Plan covers the years up to 2036
The Plan has been produced over the last four years by a Steering Group of local councillors and community representatives with support from consultants Place Studio.
Sometimes different community needs can be conflicting, such as the wish for more affordable housing, but a desire to keep our green spaces. In the Plan, using firm evidence, we have tried to retain the right balance to give the best overall outcome for everyone.
Statutory consultees have also been contacted for their feedback which will also be taken into account as we work on the next draft of the NDP.
Wiltshire Council’s consultation on its Local Plan is running too. This is a different more strategic document but will be influenced by our Neighbourhood Plan and Reg.14 consultation.
Following any amendments, the Plan will go to a local referendum in 2022. With a majority yes vote, the Neighbourhood Plan is ‘made’ and becomes part of the statutory development plan for our area.
Neighbourhood Plan Documents
The documents below are available for download.