Hastings Borough Council Local Plan Review 2020-2021
The recent announcement by Government regarding proposed changes to the Planning System may impact on how the Local Plan process is managed, but given the Government’s record on U-turns and the lack of clarity on how the changes might be managed, we offer the following comments which assume the process will remain as before.
WHAT IS THE LOCAL PLAN REVIEW?
A Local Plan is where a Council sets out the need for land and infrastructure in coming years and the guiding principles for where and how development should and should not be allowed. Hastings’ current Local Plan runs from 2014 to 2023 and the Borough Council has just started a five-yearly review.
The Review will need to make updates for housing and other land requirements. It will also allow re-assessment of aspects of the Plan which may now appear unsatisfactory or incomplete. It might, for example: take out unsuitable development sites such as South Saxons; show in detail and hence better protect the Green Infrastructure Network; pin down publication of the long-promised Design Guidance.
This Review will have greater challenges to deal with than updating and other “adjustments”. There have been many fundamental changes since the Plan was finalised. A list (by no means exhaustive) could include:
- The COVID crisis and its aftermath;
- The urgency of the climate change agenda;
- Post-Brexit adjustment;
- IT developments;
- The newly designated Marine Conservation Area;
- Changes in many Central Government initiatives;
- An increasing demand for community engagement in the arts, housing and planning.
The existing Plan itself isn’t one document, all of the following may be affected by the Review. The Plan comprises:
- A Strategy, which sets out the broad principles: https://www.hastings.gov.uk/planning/policy/adoptedlocalplan/strategy/
- A Local Development Management Plan (LDMP) which sets out in more detail where possible development sites are and how particular development proposals should be dealt with: https://www.hastings.gov.uk/planning/policy/adoptedlocalplan/dmp/
- A set of guidance documents on particular issues: https://www.hastings.gov.uk/planning/policy/guidance/
- A Statement of Community Involvement. Which explains how the Council is supposed to consult local people throughout the planning and development process. https://www.hastings.gov.uk/planning/policy/consultations/involvement/
Evidence which supports different aspects of the current Plan can be found here: https://www.hastings.gov.uk/planning/policy/adoptedlocalplan/supportingdocs_evidencebase/evidencebasedocuments/
WHY GET INVOLVED?
People looking for housing, commercial concerns providing jobs, and schools etc. will want to be sure that enough land, in convenient places, of good quality and properly linked up to transport and services, will be available in the future. Others want to ensure that a good and sustainable standard of development will be demanded. Some will want to protect and enhance the built and natural heritage of the Borough. Many will want to ensure that all parts of the Town benefit from future development. The emerging challenges from climate change and post-COVID recovery will require innovative and ambitious thinking.
It is clear that after the current Local Plan was agreed many local people were unaware of its provisions, particularly in the identification of certain development sites. This has resulted in anxiety as unexpected developments have come forward and delay and uncertainty for needed development, e.g. housing, where site unsuitability has been revealed late in the day. It is very important that local people are actively engaged. Not least, they have a wealth of local knowledge and ideas from other places to bring to bear.
HOW AND WHEN TO GET INVOLVED
The Council should seek your views once they’ve put together their draft proposals. Then you should be able to submit comments and, if you need to follow them through, put forward your views to an Inspector at an eventual Public Inquiry. However, to ensure this you need to put down a marker now with the Council’s Policy Planners about you or your association’s likely interest in the Plan. You also need to keep an eye out for Press Notices about consultation. The Council may save a bit of postage that way!
However, by the time the Council puts together a draft plan it will have already decided on the likely aims of the Plan, prepared detailed wording of and justification for the chosen Policies and pulled together evidence to support these. A lot of professional and political momentum will have been created and by then it may be difficult to get significant changes.
There may be particular matters about which you or your association are concerned. You may want to propose greater attention to the needs of the elderly, the disabled, the BAME or LGBTQ+ communities? Perhaps there are sites, e.g. wildlife sites or sports grounds, which you think are very important to protect or upgrade? Maybe there are sites which you think should have been developed with housing or new jobs years ago? Possibly you want to see more attention paid to the look of new buildings and/or the protection of the local built or natural environment? What should be done in our town and local centres now on-line shopping is on the up and there may be a reduced need for offices? Where should we make space for new and improved visitor attractions? How should the Town respond to climate change, water, energy and other resource use? Etc. etc. etc.
It is important that as early as possible you make the Council aware of your possible interests in the Local Plan content, the knowledge and expertise you can add, the ideas and evidence that you can provide – and suggestions of other sources which the Council should explore.
The Council has set out a timetable for the Review. This is itself under review because of the COVID crisis and you will want to keep an eye on the Council website. Currently the timetable is as follows:
|Key Stage||LDS 2019 Date||New revised date|
|Consulting statutory bodies on the scope of the Sustainability Appraisal||May – June 2019||Quarter 1 2020/21|
|Public participation in the preparation of the Local Plan (Regulation 18)||Oct-Dec 2019||Formal consultation Quarter 2 2020/21. As far as practicable in the run up to Reg18 the Council will engage with a range of parties including residents, businesses, developers and other local groups to capture the diversity of views on key issues.|
|Publication of the Proposed Submission Local Plan (Regulation 19)||June – July 2020||Quarter 4 2020/21|
|Local Plan Adoption||October 2021||Quarter 3-4 2021/22|
HOW CAN I FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE REVIEW?
The relevant page on the Council website is as follows.
If you think you might want to make a submission but aren’t sure where to start then get in touch with us via the Contact Form on this site and we will try to give bit of guidance. We don’t however have the person power to actually put together your submissions for you.