Information Entirely about Planning from District Councillor Avril Davies
Why are there suddenly so many big planning applications in rural areas?
In the last two years an unprecedented number of speculative planning applications for large numbers of homes on land not planned for development have been submitted to Aylesbury Vale District Council. This is because the new national planning policy introduced in 2012, and the scrapping of the South East regional plan which put a ceiling on numbers, means it is now presumed that planning permission will be given unless there is an overwhelming case against it.
Also encouraging locally to developers is that Aylesbury Vale has no longer got a required 5 year housing land supply, and the Council has failed twice to put in place a strong local plan to state local priorities which can interpret and adapt the national guidance to local needs.
Applications for mind boggling numbers are now accumulating across the Vale. For example as well as the approval in principle for 40 houses on land at Rushendon Furlong in Pitstone (not yet signed off) and 30 in Edlesborough in Cow Lane, 47 houses were approved on appeal in Aston Clinton on Stablebridge Road, their development currently delayed by the discovery of an Iron Age village on the site, plus another 47 on land off Chapel Drive, granted on an appeal with far reaching consequences for other decisions, leading almost directly to permission for 120 in Brook Street Aston Clinton. In Haddenham 280 were recently granted on the Glebeland, with still larger numbers applied for on other Haddenham sites. There are outstanding applications in Slapton, Waddesdon, Steeple Claydon, and many more.
Why are so many of these applications being allowed?
Many applications have been allowed because although Aylesbury Vale planners can still apply policies saved from previous plans, such as encroachment in to the countryside or detriment to the character of the landscape, a succession of planning appeal judgements have given very little weight to these, stating instead that the benefits of supplying the houses needed for a five year supply of housing outweighs these considerations and the traffic growth. One of the first policies to be thrown out at appeal was the former limit on rural developments to 5 houses.
So planning applications are being judged on whether the ‘good’ in terms of providing a five year housing land supply outweighs the ‘harm’ as measured by the criteria in the NPPF for sustainable development. This is defined as building a strong competitive economy; promoting sustainable transport; delivering a wide choice of high quality homes; requiring good design;promoting healthy communities; conserving and enhancing the natural environment; conserving and enhancing the historic environment. When applications are submitted in outline only this is often hard to judge, which is why appeal judgements are so important in interpreting the guidance.
The 2 applications in Ivinghoe for 110 houses
The two planning applications for Ivinghoe are still not determined. The first application for 70 houses by Gladman has been referred to the planning inspectorate on the grounds of non determination by the planning authority within the statutory time limit, and the other adjacent one on The Park for 40 houses is still being evaluated at AVDC.
Ivinghoe conservation area revision
Meanwhile the long overdue revision of the 1971 Ivinghoe Conservation Area has been published for consultation and can be viewed on line http://www.aylesburyvaledc.gov.uk/environment/conservation-listed-buildings/current-conservation-area-consultation/ivinghoe-conservation-area-review/ or in the Beacon Villages library. This proposes major extensions to the conservation area to include the Park and Ford End farm, and describes the significance of views in and out of the conservation area from all points.
It is not all bad news. What we think in Aylesbury Vale still holds some weight. On 26thJanuary the appeal for three sites, Hampden Fields, Weedon Hill and Fleet Marston, totalling 5,800 houses, was dismissed. The inspector upholding in almost every detail the council’s grounds for refusal. Even if these appeals had been allowed, The 5,800 would not have increased the 5 year supply as the sites would not have delivered any houses inside five years, as so much pre construction and infrastructure work as well as detailed plans would have been required.
Aylesbury Vale still one of the fastest growing areas
In Aylesbury the Buckingham Park and Berryfields developments, still being built out from an earlier plan, make Aylesbury Vale the fastest housebuilding area in the country. In addition between Bierton and Broughton, ‘Aylesbury East’, 2450 houses have been given permission in outline and currently the detailed planning permission is being considered. A further 1560 between Bierton and Watermead are currently at appeal hearing.
Progress on a new plan for Aylesbury Vale
The new Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan (VALP) was begun in May, and has just completed the ‘call for sites’ stage http://www.aylesburyvaledc.gov.uk/planning-policy/vale-of-aylesbury-local-plan/vale-aylesbury-local-plan-call-sites-response/. These sites will all be examined for viability and deliverability, and consulted on next summer. The final plan is expected to be adopted in 2017.
The third important strand for planning after the NPPF and the District plan is the Neighbourhood plan.
Cheddington and Pitstone have had their respective neighbourhood areas approved and the process of putting together a plan has begun, with Cheddington being further ahead having already held a public consultation.
Ivinghoe and Slapton have made an application to designate an area for a plan.
Winslow has completed its plan and held a referendum as required. Wing, Marsh Gibbon Haddenham and Great Horwood are following closely behind.
Neighbourhood plans are intended to complement rather than contradict District Plans, so it is with interest we await the outcome of a judicial review brought by Gladman against the Winslow plan on the grounds it had no status without an overarching District Plan, as this will affect every neighbourhood plan currently being put together by hard working volunteers.