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Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill: consultation on implementation of plan-making reforms

View of proposed site land North of Dorchester View of proposed site land North of Dorchester Rupert Hardy

19th October 2023

Dorset CPRE responds to the DLUHC consultation on major reforms to the Local Plan process.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) launched in July a consultation on major reforms to the Local Plan process. The consultation is wide ranging, involving 16 thematic areas, with an overarching aim of ‘streamlining and simplifying’ the current plan-making process. There's currently insufficient detail within the proposals on what evidence will be cut, and Plans will still need to be justified.

Summary

We welcome reform of the current plan-making system and the ambition simplifying the process and making plan documents more accessible. However, this should not be at the expense of thorough evidence gathering and public participation in the process.

It is essential that Local Plans truly reflect the needs of the community, and that Local Authorities are empowered to produce Policies that meet their community’s needs. Whilst further information is yet to be provided about the proposed National Development Management Policies, we are concerned about their introduction and removal of certain key policy areas from Local Authority Control.

The importance of engaging with the community through a thorough ‘Issues and Options’ consultation at the very beginning of the plan making process has been clearly demonstrated by Dorset Council. Dorset Council failed to undertake a proper Issues and Options consultation prior to releasing the Draft Local Plan for Consultation in 2021. Consequently, the policies contained did not meet the needs of the community and failed to receive their support. We are currently awaiting a revised Dorset Council Draft Local Plan.

Plan Content
Dorset CPRE broadly welcome the requirement for local plans to contain a locally distinct vision. It is important that this ‘Vision’ for the local plan is arrived at through early community consultation to ensure that policies meet the aspirations of the community for their area.

Rather than seeing a rigid template imposed on local authorities, we would prefer to see a recommended framework, allowing flexibility for adjustment to meet an individual authority’s needs.


The New 30 month plan timeframe

We acknowledge the benefits of having a recommended timeframe for a local authority to produce their Local Plan. However, we do not believe that it is possible for local authorities to deliver a thoroughly evidenced plan with satisfactory community engagement within 30 months, particularly given that they do not currently have the resources available to them to dedicate to the process.

It must be acknowledged that each and every Local Planning Authority will have its own unique challenges in delivering a Local Plan and it is important that there is flexibility built into the proposed timeframe to allow an authority to take the time it requires to thoroughly gather and analyse evidence and assess policy issues raised in the consultation process.

Please see the link below to our full response. The consultation closed on 18th October.

 

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