Category Archives: Local Plan

Local Plan Review Drop-in at Slimbridge – findings

We called in at Slimbridge this afternoon and the planners were very helpful in showing us all the reports and documents that they use to evaluate sites such as this. There is a points system based on various suitability factors for ‘allocation’, and we will scrutinise these reports to see exactly how this decision was arrived at.

Superficially it looks as though ‘PS20’ could have been a bit more sympathetically scored on the basis of flood plain, listed buildings, access (Junction 13 is already recognised as a ‘pinch point’), AoNB considerations, etc. It is all somewhat marginal, but they did agree that there ARE sensitivities to be considered, (and any further planning permissions in the future will clearly be open to challenge).

There does appear to be a quantified ‘need’ for more community space for sports. (not that this necessitates a stadium, of course!) – but again we will need to scrutinise the actual documents and figures. We might be able to argue that this space should only be ‘allocated’ for potential use as open space for community recreation.

In addition we discovered that the ‘need’ for extra employment land in the area is the subject of a report that will not be out until next year – this may well prove the lack of actual ‘need’ for any further industrial development there, but in the meantime (i.e. before the January deadline for comment) we can at least point to this as disappointingly ‘unknown’.

There will be further points in time for us to argue the case during next year as the process goes through its next stages.

What is the Local Plan

The Local Plan and Local Plan Review

The Eastington Neighbourhood Development Plan and the Stroud District Local Plan were developed in parallel and are supposed to represent the ‘localism’ part of the new planning laws. They were finally approved and adopted in 2016.

The plans had to follow national guidelines, with their presumption in favour of sustainable development, but did allow us to say where within our area/district we thought that development should be focused.  They also express and underline our rights to have our traditional character respected along with traditional settlement patterns.  This meant that preserving our ‘rural character’ and the  distinct identities of our hamlets became a genuine consideration in making planning decisions.  The WoS development was considered a ‘strategic’ necessity, and had to be accepted into the plans as a given, but it was hoped that the other policies in both plans would go some way to protecting our environment and way of life here, as well as the identities of the hamlets most affected by WoS.

The NDP in particular allowed us to state that development (other than WoS) in the Parish should be confined to an envelope  around Alkerton, with minimal development elsewhere.  Sites adjacent to the envelope could be considered as ‘exception sites’  where particular developments  considered desirable – such as for affordable housing for local people – might be allowed.

5 Year Review

No sooner was the ink dry on the Local Plan, than the government made it law that the plans were to be reviewed every 5 years.  This is a big undertaking and with all the consultations involved etc will take 5 years to complete!  The current plan runs from 2016 to 2031, the Review will be completed by 2021 and the revised plan will the run up to 2026 – etc.

As part of the review, SDC are obliged to ‘look ahead’ for potential new development sites should they be needed ( both for housing and employment).  At present (Nov 2017) they consider that they have sufficient ‘possible’ development sites for the housing and employment numbers that the Government Inspector requires of them, and that these sites are documented in the plan.  SDC will need to review both how this ‘land supply’ is shaping up over the 5 years as well as  the inevitable increase in the Government’s requirement over time.

Unfortunately for us,  even at this early stage of the review,  a couple of what we now regard as ‘exception sites’  ( available only for possible future affordable housing for parishioners) are being considered as mainstream ‘potential’ development sites.

Even more unfortunately, Dale Vince’s two plots (North and South of the A419)  in particular –  are already being included in the review and could be accepted into the revised plan as possible development sites.

The sad fact is that the mere existence of WoS makes these sites ‘adjacent’ to an existing settlement, which makes them vulnerable!

We cannot stop these sites from being considered in the review, but we CAN lobby against actually including them in the revised plan on the grounds that if/when more employment land is required, there are much more appropriate places to use up first.  We do not believe that clustering employment sites around the motorway junction is anything but disastrous for the District

There will be several rounds of  Public consultation as the review progresses – Please check our latest posts.