Local Plan to 2030 Regulation 19 - Publication June 2016

Comment ID ALP/1348
Document Section Local Plan to 2030 - Publication Draft TOPIC POLICIES SECTION D - THE NATURAL AND BUILT ENVIRONMENT Content View all on this section
Respondent Peter Brett Associates (Tim Allen) View all by this respondent
Agent Peter Brett Associates (Tim Allen)
Response Date 09 Aug 2016
Do you consider this part of the document is Sound? No
On which grounds do you consider the document unsound? (if applicable)
  • Not Effective
Do you consider the Document is Legally Compliant? Yes

The Parish Councils at Aldington & Bonnington and Brabourne & Smeeth have investigated the need for a Landscape Protection Policy (LPP) in their respective areas. This was borne out of a concern that the cumulative effects of development in the villages was having a detrimental impact on the amenity of the area. In simple terms, the sequential effect of a range of small scale developments was creating a diminution of the environment of the area in and around the villages.The residents who supported the initiative by undertaking the collection of data of all types and descriptions, and the Parish Councils, believe that the unique environment of the villages and their surroundings is worthy of specific protection.

Evidence was prepared on issues as diverse as traffic volumes and speed, ecological issues and an analysis of the topography and landscape character of the areas and the way that settlements had formed over time. However – the two Landscape Protection Policies proposed have not been included in the plan, and so these representations set out proposed changes to the draft plan that would allow the introduction of the policies based on the evidence presented.

It is recognised that some of the proposed wording suggested for the LPP policies is included in the topic based policies, the Parish Councils consider that this rather loses the point of the cumulative effects that they wanted to see addressed in development control decisions in the future. There are two strands to this:

  1. The cumulative effect of many small scale developments across the rural areas – at present they are all treated individually on their own merits and so the sequential diminution of amenity is not taken into account, and
  1. The cumulative effect of numerous small impacts from one development - a bit more traffic, a bit more loss of green space, a bit more extra noise, that all add up to result in a diminution overall of the quality of the rural environment.

The Parishes’ accept the response from the Policy Officer at Ashford Borough Council that these principles may well apply to other parts of the borough - that is a point very well made. It may well be the case that large parts of the borough are under threat because much of it has no special designation and may therefore be considered available for development. If this is the case, then that is all the more reason to seek to adopt policies that, whilst not precluding development, set tests that are appropriate to the assessment of the quality of the rural environment.

The fact that only three parishes have decided to undertake the promotion of a policy which could legitimately perhaps be promoted elsewhere as well does not seem to the Parishes to be a reason not to adopt the policies proposed. This could be a model for other parishes and villages to use, in the future, where they too can develop an appropriate package of evidence that supports the case that they are making for a protection policy that is appropriate to their area. In any event, the two Parish Councils (with the support of their communities) have adopted the approach that they wish to establish a better and more appropriate measure of development control in the areas in which they live – they consider this to be a worthwhile, legitimate and appropriate course of action.

It is the context of the North Downs and the High Weald that makes it vital to adopt a multi-layered topographical, historical and cultural approach to development control otherwise the character of the area as a whole will suffer by degrees over time, and it will lose its most valuable resource - its landscape and settlement character.Therefore – the Parishes propose changes to policies HOU4, HOU5, EMP1, EMP3 and EMP5.

They also propose a new policy ENV16 that provides the framework for Landscape Protection Policies to be included within the Local Plan.

What changes do you suggest to make the document legally compliant or sound? A new policy should be included in the Local Plan to give clarity to the way that the Landscape Protection Policy should be applied in the areas to which it relates as specified in the individual housing and employment policies.

The Parishes suggest that supporting text is developed for this policy based on the detailed letters that were submitted on their behalf and explaining the reasons for the policy and the context behind it.

The specific areas that are identified to which the policy relates should be included in the Plans section of the Local Plan.

The new policy should be as follows:

Policy ENV16 –
Proposals for land use changes and development in the areas within the Proposals Map to which this policy applies will only be permitted provided that all of the following criteria are met:

i) The land use change or development respects the landscape setting of the area and can be demonstrated to be in keeping with the form and style of existing development as a sensitive transition between the High Weald and North Downs AONB areas. Particular emphasis will be placed on the visual effects of development in the context of views into and out of the site, and the historic disposition of development relative to the surrounding topography.
ii) The land use change or development respects the historic and archaeological reference points and sites of biodiversity value, and in particular, can demonstrate that it will not exacerbate current impacts to the character and function of existing highway corridors and lanes, and the street amenity in villages and other settlements areas.
iii) The development will have no impact on the pursuance of rural activities on the adjacent lanes and highways that may be considered sensitive to development impacts;
iv) It can be demonstrated that the development will not on its own or cumulatively as a result of other previously implemented, permitted, committed or planned schemes within or adjacent to the policy area generate a type or amount of traffic that would be inappropriate or detrimental to the rural road network that serves it; and
v) There would be no impact either individually or cumulatively as a result of other previously implemented, permitted, committed or planned schemes within or adjacent to the policy area on the character of or important features within the area including the rural lanes, verges and hedgerows which cross the area
Do you consider it necessary to participate at the oral part of the examination? Yes
Does your representation relate to an omission site (a site that has not been included). For example a site for Housing, Employment, Travellers, or Local Green Spaces.
Please supply details of the omission site.