Vale fights against speculative planning applications
At the end of last year the Vale of White Horse District Council embarked on a bold and well publicised initiative to protect the district against the threat of numerous speculative planning applications. The council was concerned that as there had been a low rate of house-building for some years there was a risk that the planning inspectorate would support unsuitable developments against the decisions of the planning committee and the wishes of local people.
In a move to reduce this risk the Vale consulted on a plan to introduce an Interim Housing Supply Policy. This set out to relax some planning rules in villages to allow limited housing development that is proportionate to the village size and which contributes to the prosperity and vitality of the villages. Consultation has been ongoing and the matter is due to be discussed at the Vale’s Annual Council meeting next week.
Parish councils, landowners, developers and residents have actively engaged in this constructive consultation process, which has produced a list of potential sites that may be suitable for development, adding to the sustainability of rural settlements. These sites are being assessed by officers in the light of the consultation process, and the results of this assessment are being prepared for publication.
Changes in planning law introduced by the government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) mean these proposals cannot now be adopted as a formal policy of the council. Instead, a five-year housing land supply statement will be produced, plus a separate sites assessment document, which the planning committee will take into account in reaching its decisions, alongside the formal policies of the council.
As part of the scheduled work to identify housing sites the council is publishing the responses of parish councils to the initial expressions of interest and will continue work on evaluating these sites. As has always been the case any developer wishing to proceed is required to submit a normal planning application which will be subject to the public consultation and scrutiny. These applications will be judged on their merits in the context of the Housing Supply Statement, along with the Local Plan, emerging LDF documents, and the National Planning Policy Framework.