Aylesbury Vale Area

MM084

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Support

VALP Main Modifications

Representation ID: 2842

Received: 09/12/2019

Respondent: Anglian Water Services Limited

Representation:

We note that changes are proposed in relation to site specific requirements relating to water supply and Buckingham Waste Water Treatment Works for site allocation BUC046. Reference to the public sewerage network for surface water flows has also been removed.

These changes would address our previous comments relating to site allocation BUC046 and are fully supported.

Full text:

We note that changes are proposed in relation to site specific requirements relating to water supply and Buckingham Waste Water Treatment Works for site allocation BUC046. Reference to the public sewerage network for surface water flows has also been removed.

These changes would address our previous comments relating to site allocation BUC046 and are fully supported.

Object

VALP Main Modifications

Representation ID: 2938

Received: 11/12/2019

Respondent: Buckingham Town Council

Legally compliant? No

Sound? No

Representation:

d. There is no explanation as to the addition of an access point on a road accessing the industrial estate and a retail park. The additional traffic modelling used to exclude BUC051 was not run against this development; yet a potential site further along the same route to the west was ruled out. There needs to be further traffic modelling undertaken on all Buckingham sites before they are allocated.
I this will not be sufficient to alleviate the traffic problems. It is not clear how a proportionate financial contribution from this or from pooled contributions would finance the necessary improvements.

Change suggested by respondent:

There needs to be further traffic modelling undertaken on all Buckingham sites before they are allocated.

Further traffic modelling is required to update the Buckingham Transport Strategy before financial contributions can be identified.

Full text:

d. There is no explanation as to the addition of an access point on a road accessing the industrial estate and a retail park. The additional traffic modelling used to exclude BUC051 was not run against this development; yet a potential site further along the same route to the west was ruled out. There needs to be further traffic modelling undertaken on all Buckingham sites before they are allocated.
I this will not be sufficient to alleviate the traffic problems. It is not clear how a proportionate financial contribution from this or from pooled contributions would finance the necessary improvements.

Object

VALP Main Modifications

Representation ID: 3373

Received: 17/12/2019

Respondent: David Lock Associates

Legally compliant? No

Sound? No

Representation:

Proposed modifications MM082 (BUC043), MM084 (BUC046) - are insufficient to make either policy sound, nor MM006. As such the VALP should be further modified by the deletion of all of the Buckingham and Maids Moreton allocations in favour of their allocation through the ongoing Buckingham Neighbourhood Plan revision by which time there would be more prospect of an adequate evidence base in relation to the transport impacts of each allocation. Even if the Inspector is satisfied with the evidence base there remains the question of how the identified mitigation strategy - where the WLR is prioritised - will be delivered.

Change suggested by respondent:

In order to ensure that the plan is effective, justified and positively planned, then changes to the VALP (as proposed to be amended by the Main Modifications) need to take place.
HLM(B) consider that proposed modifications MM082 (BUC043), MM084 (BUC046) - amending policies in relation to BUC043 and BUC046 to secure contributions towards unexplained infrastructure are insufficient to make either of those policies sound, nor MM006. As such the WALP should be further modified by the deletion of all of the Buckingham and Maids Moreton allocations in favour of their allocation through the ongoing Buckingham Neighbourhood Plan revision by which time there would be more prospect of an adequate evidence base in relation to the transport impacts of each allocation. It is simply not right that BUC051 has been deallocated whilst others remain with no adequate evidence base and an inadequate Sustainability Appraisal process.
Even if the Inspector is satisfied that the evidence base justifies the allocations, there remains the question of how the identified mitigation strategy - where the WLR is prioritised - will be delivered.
As is identified in the BTS and IDP the WLR will be funded on a contribution basis. To ensure the effectiveness of the Plan and meet its obligations in respect of infrastructure delivery the VALP should be modified to maximise contributions through further allocations. Specifically in this regard, HLM(B) would anticipate the need for:
* The reinstatement of BUC051;
* The inclusion also of BUC025 - to maximise developer contributions towards the delivery of key infrastructure
* The inclusion of BUC025 instead of BUC051 (should that not be reinstated).

Full text:

Nick Freer (David Lock) reps for Hallam Land - Buckingham
17 Dec 2019

FULL TEXT
Dear sirs
Further to the ongoing consultation in relation to the VALP Main Modifications please find attached representations on behalf of Hallam Land Management (Buckingham). They relate to five MMs specifically MM70, MM82, MM83, MM84, MM210. I look forward to your further consideration of the representations. Kind regards
Nick Freer
Chairman

REP to MM070

NO SUMMARY PROVIDED.

FULL TEXT

1 Hallam Land Management have set out representations in relation to MM082, 083 and 084 in relation to sites BUC043, BUC046, MM006, BUC051 and BUC025.

2 A series of suggested changes are proposed to make the plan sound primarily:

* the deletion of BUC043, BUC046 and MM06 alongside the deletion of BUC051 (MM083); or

* in the alternative the reinstatement of BUC051 and the inclusion also of BUC025 - to maximise developer contributions towards the delivery of key infrastructure.

3 The adoption of these suggested changes to make the VALP sound will require consequential amendment of the list of sites in policy D2 (MM070).


REP to MM082

SUMMARY


HLM(B) consider that proposed modifications MM082 (BUC043), MM084 (BUC046) - amending policies BUC043 and BUC046 to secure contributions towards unexplained infrastructure are insufficient to make either policy sound, nor MM006. As such the VALP should be further modified by the deletion of all of the Buckingham and Maids Moreton allocations in favour of their allocation through the ongoing Buckingham Neighbourhood Plan revision by which time there would be more prospect of an adequate evidence base in relation to the transport impacts of each allocation. Even if the Inspector is satisfied that the evidence base justifies the allocations, there remains the question of how the identified mitigation strategy - where the WLR is prioritised - will be delivered. In this circumstance, to ensure the effectiveness of the Plan and meet its obligations in respect of infrastructure delivery the VALP should be modified to maximise contributions through further allocations.

FULL TEXT

1 AVDC propose modifications to both BUC043 and BUC046 in relation to the Buckingham Transport Strategy: "A financial contribution will be needed towards finding appropriate elements of the Buckingham Transport Strategy".

2 HLM consider that this is a wholly insufficient response to seek to make the allocations sound.

3 HLM (B) has set out detailed representations on MM083 - the deletion of BUC051. Such representations should be read in conjunction with HLMs objections to MM082 and MM084.

4 Of particular note, HLMs representations on MM083 highlight:
* the conclusions of AVDC's existing evidence base which is that there are significant congestion issues in Buckingham Town Centre already
* the conclusions of the same evidence base that the Western Link Road has been set out as the most effective means of addressing existing issues and mitigating growth in Buckingham;
* the absence of any evidence base to conclude that BUC043 and BUC046, individually or collectively, with or without BUC051 or BUC025, will not also have a significant effect on an existing congested network;
* the absence of reference to the WLR in the MM210 listing mitigation schemes in an amended policy T3; and
* that BUC051 has totally unreasonably been singly and inappropriately ruled out of the Buckingham strategy - despite the positive role that it (or the alternative/additional BUC025) might play

5 Given the above, a requirement for an unspecified contribution towards unspecified works from a development without the benefit of a specific assessment of its impacts on a congested network, fails all tests of soundness. There isn't the evidence to justify.

REP to MM083

SUMMARY

In conclusion, the proposed strategy for Buckingham sites including the deletion of BUC051 (and its non-replacement with BUC025) is unsound because it is completely unsupported by the evidence base. In circumstances where the evidence base says that the Town Centre is already congested and that the most effective means of mitigation is the WLR, the progression of the Main Mods is unsound with no reference to the WLR and the retention of sites BUC043 and BUC046. Moreover, in the absence of modelling, the allocations give every impression of adding to (without mitigating) town centre congestion and town wide journey times.
Not only is the strategy, as proposed to be modified, unsound on the basis of a lack of evidence and justification, the deletion of BUC051, the lack of inclusion of BUC025 and the absence of reference to the WLR in MM210, also results in the Plan being unsound in terms of its failure to plan positively for the infrastructure that has been identified as being necessary.

FULL TEXT


1 Hallam Land Management Buckingham (HLM(B)) controls land owned by New College Oxford to the west and south of Buckingham and including sites BUC025 and BUC051. New College Oxford owns significant additional land to the West of Buckingham, capable of accommodating much of the proposed Western Bypass. The WLR can be delivered within the control of HLM(B) and New College.

2 Both prior, and subsequent, to the publication of the suggested changes to the Plan by AVDC - which addressed BUC051 and the Western bypass - HLM wrote to seek a dialogue to discuss the both of these issues - along with the failings perceived by HLM in the evidence base that was being presented to support what are now MM083 (BUC051), MM082 (BUC043), MM084 (BUC046), MM210 (Policy T3), MM205 (para 7.10) and consequentially MM070 (Policy D1).

3 I enclose a copy of correspondence to AVDC (Appendix 1) which highlighted the strong need for that evidence base to be reinforced prior to the publication of the Proposed Modifications. Otherwise, it was indicated to AVDC, that it will be difficult in the extreme to make representations on the proposed modifications relating to Buckingham - leading to considerable risk of the Mods and hence VALP being unsupported by available evidence and potentially liable to challenge.

4 No response was received, and no such discussions have been entertained by AVDC or BCC. The failings in terms of soundness and/or legal compliance set out in these representations therefore have, regrettably, had to be made without the benefit of such dialogue or additional evidence.

5 The principal additional evidence produced in support of the Proposed Modifications since the Examination is understood to be:
* the Revised County Modelling for Buckingham (Addendum to the Phase 3 Modelling Report) (3 April 2019) (ED214B)
* the Buckingham Town Centre Modelling report (24 May 2019) (ED214A)
* BCC's advice note to AVDC (ED215)

6 Having completed these studies, AVDC propose the deletion of BUC051 (MM083) - the reserve site allocated in the Buckingham Neighbourhood Plan - and retains BUC043 and BUC046 neither of which were allocated in the Buckingham Neighbourhood Plan - albeit with an additional obligation to contribute to transport.

7 Further consideration was given to BUC051 in the light of the Inspectors Initial Findings (IIF) that BUC051 might be considered to be dependent upon the Western Link Road (WLR) in the Buckingham Transport Strategy but that there was no policy seeking to deliver that Link Road. The expectation was that AVDC would - as has been the case in Aylesbury - add in those key elements of infrastructure into T3 through a Main Modification. To be clear the Inspector did NOT consider to what extent other allocations in Buckingham (BUC043 and BUC046) as well as Maids Moreton (MM006) were also dependent on key elements of the Buckingham Transport Strategy (BTS) including the Western Link Road (WLR).

8 Just by way of context, the WLR is identified as necessary for Buckingham as a whole in the Infrastructure Development Plan - an expectation that has not been updated since the Examination hearings.

9 Equally important, in terms of context, the Buckingham Transport Strategy considered the demands of growth at Buckingham as a whole - BUC043, BUC046, BUC051 and BUC025 (although the latter was not allocated in the submission VALP). Para 4.4.2 of the BTS ranked the Western Link Road as being of highest priority followed by the West Street downgrade. Other route upgrades and Left turn slip/junction improvements were given less priority. Funding of the priority schemes was acknowledged to be likely to rely principally on section 106 funding (BTS para 4.5.3).

10 AVDC's justification for deleting BUC051 is set out in Examination Document ED215B published alongside the Proposed Modifications. AVDC argues that it has changed its mind regarding the acceptability of phasing the development of BUC51 to take account of the WLR and now "detailed town centre modelling shows that BUC051 would have an unacceptable impact on the town centre even if the development was phased" (ED214A).

11 Further, AVDC argues that the only way to secure the mitigation of the town centre impacts would be the WLR - but this could not be funded by 300 dwellings (here the County explicitly mooted a much larger allocation to secure the WLR).

12 This conclusion was reached following specific consideration of BUC051 and its specific impacts on the Town Centre in the County Councils addendum to its Phase 3 Modelling report and the Town Centre Modelling Report - work that was not carried out in respect of any of the remaining Buckingham allocations.

13 Apparently as a makeweight, or secondary argument, AVDC argues that there is no need for BUC051 as a reserve site in the manner anticipated in the Buckingham Neighbourhood Plan because the BNP sites had or were coming forward and additional development should be allocated on the edge of MK to reflect the Inspectors Initial Findings. The allocation of 1150 homes at Shenley Park (D0-WHA001, EC125) - well above the gap identified by the Inspector allows AVDC to delete BUC51 but equally makes the point that there would be no harm whatsoever in the allocation of WHA001 and BUC051 or indeed other additional sites at Buckingham to deliver infrastructure (e.g. BUC025). The two locations should not be linked given the scale of need and the consequent undermining of the Buckingham Neighbourhood Plan by the de- allocation of its reserve site.

14 HLM and its transport consultants have considered the additional evidence now produced in support of the deletion of BUC051 and conclude that MM083 is simply not supported by the evidence base that is presented. The deletion of the site - a site already tested and found sound having been examined in a Neighbourhood Plan context - through the VALP is simply not justified by the evidence.

15 The Buckingham Transport Strategy is based on all sites coming forward and puts in place a section 106 contribution-based strategy to deliver what is needed to meet both the demands of the planned growth but also, explicitly, the existing traffic constraints and difficulties in the town - in particular, in the town centre. The key identified requirement is the WLR to facilitate the down-grading of West Street.

16 Perhaps the biggest issue here is the level of congestion in the Town centre. Traffic in Buckingham town centre is highlighted as an existing issue in the adopted Buckingham Neighbourhood Plan and Buckingham Transport Strategy, and indeed the most recent modelling (ED214A). One of the issues is the performance of the two key town centre junctions - the focus of the latest Town centre modelling report (ED214A). ED214A confirms that both junctions will be operating beyond capacity in 2033 - even with no new development in Buckingham. It concludes that each development scenario tested would be unacceptable.

17 It apparently concludes that the traffic effects of the Proposed Modifications, even with no BUC051, would therefore be unacceptable on the town centre.

18 No evidence is presented in the additional modelling that the Proposed modification strategy (BUC43, BUC46 and MM06) has an acceptable impact on the Town Centre. The test has not been done and no evidence prepared to show that the suggested modifications are acceptable in terms of town centre impact.

19 Equally, none of the assessments have considered whether BUC043 or BUCO46 or MM06 - if treated in isolation (as BUC051 has been) - would have more or less of an impact on journey times in Buckingham than BUC025 or BUC051. The evidence is missing.

20 Nor has any testing been undertaken to determine the relative impacts of each of the VALP sites on congestion in the Town Centre which is already an identified problem in the evidence base. Intuitively BUC043 would have a substantial effect on the Moreton Road/Market Square junction. Had assessments been undertaken of individual sites (other than BUC051) in the latest modelling (they have not), it is likely that they would have shown that BUC043/BUC46/MM06 would equally have had unacceptable impact on the town centre.

21 The two sites with the comprehensive evidence base are the two sites omitted from the VALP (BUC025 and BUC051). Those with no substantive evidence are retained in the VALP - at the same time undermining the Buckingham Neighbourhood Plan.

22 Moreover, even if BUC051 were to be deleted from the Plan there is no evidence based reason not to replace BUC051 with BUC025. BCC did consider BUC025 (South of the A421). BCC considers in its advice that:
* it would have less impact on the TC so not unacceptable on highway grounds [i.e is perfectly acceptable];
* but "would not assist reducing traffic through the town centre in that it would not contribute to strategic infrastructure such as the Western Relief Road nor the Buckingham Transport Strategy". This, as a rationale or evidence, is nonsense as any modification to replace BUC051 with BUC025 would have with it a policy obligation to contribute to the BTS - just as is the case in MM82 and 84 - where that financial requirement is now required for sites BUC043 and BUC046.

23 While the Main Mods do not propose to allocate BUC025, notwithstanding the evidence that AVDC assembled, the allocation of BUC025 instead of, or as well as, BUC051 and in addition to BUC043, BUC046 and MM006, would make a strong contribution to delivering transport infrastructure through increased contributions for the Buckingham Transport Strategy. BUC025 was considered entirely suitable for development in the AVDC HELAA with a potential yield, in that assessment, of 360 dwellings.

24 In conclusion, the proposed strategy for Buckingham sites including the deletion of BUC051 (and its non-replacement with BUC025) is unsound because it is completely unsupported by the evidence base. In circumstances where the evidence base says that the Town Centre is already congested and that the most effective means of mitigation is the WLR, the progression of the Main Mods is unsound with no reference to the WLR and the retention of sites BUC043 and BUC046. Moreover, in the absence of modelling, the allocations give every impression of adding to (without mitigating) town centre congestion and town wide journey times.

25 Before there can be any possibility of the strategy, as amended by the PMs, being found sound, additional work must be completed to:
* provide an evidence base on the impact of the remaining allocations (BUC043, BUC046 and MM006) on the town centre individually and collectively - none exists;
* inform whether all allocations (including BUC025 and BUC051), to secure the mitigation strategy, or none, to allow allocations to come through the BNP, should be pursued;
* set out the specific benefits of each mitigation measure and to base the inclusion of schemes on that evidence. In this regard the BTS affords greatest priority to the WLR (above other schemes) as being the most effective means of mitigation for the town - because it frees up the opportunity to downgrade Bridge/West Street and the High Street.

26 Not only is the strategy, as proposed to be modified, unsound on the basis of a lack of evidence and justification, the deletion of BUC051, the lack of inclusion of BUC025 and the absence of reference to the WLR in MM210, also results in the Plan being unsound in terms of its failure to plan positively for the infrastructure that has been identified as being necessary.

27 The best opportunity to deliver the infrastructure that should be included in the Plan - the WLR - is to maximise the contributions from development.

28 The only sound alternative is to not allocate any sites at Buckingham to meet the identified requirement and to devolve the allocation of sites to the next review of the Buckingham NP which is already underway. This is on the basis that there is simply not a sufficient evidence base to proceed with any of the allocations at Buckingham in the VALP. By this means opportunities for positive planning and integrated planning to deliver the WLR etc. could be realised through the NP rather than wasted in the unevidenced and incomplete strategy in the VALP.

29 Critical in this regard is the importance attached to town centre junction issues - and the problems now experienced - and the absence of any comparable assessment of the impact of the BUC43 and BUC46 and MM06 sites on the town centre. Only BUC051 has been assessed. Indeed, ED215A appears to conclude that any development scenario will make matters worse - exponentially - without a proper mitigation strategy.

30 The made Buckingham Neighbourhood Plan (made in October 2015) has proved highly effective in delivering substantial, locally supported, housing numbers. Such a course of action would avert the current need for more evidence prior to the adoption of the VALP. Instead the VALP process could proceed but could divert Buckingham allocations to the NP review, the existing NP having successfully allocated and delivered housing in the absence of an up-to-date Local Plan.

31 That a Neighbourhood Plan is a proper and established and effective route in other places as well as in Buckingham is evident in the experience, in the immediate vicinity at Thame. The Thame Neighbourhood Plan in adjoining South Oxfordshire has likewise successfully allocated sites for some 775 new homes and associated infrastructure - delivering the strategic policies of the District wide plan.

32 Equally the WLR can be delivered within the control of HLM(B) and New College - and can then be included in the VALP or worked through in the update of the Buckingham Neighbourhood Plan that has already commenced.

33 In setting out these observations HLM (B) is very aware that that addendum to the Sustainability Appraisal fails to consider any of the implications of the amended development strategy for Buckingham on the ability to deliver the key infrastructure that the evidence base demands. The SA Addendum simply considers the rather esoteric and immaterial question of whether including scheme details (across the VALP) as words in the VALP is positive or negative.

34 Overall the proposed Main modifications and resultant policies may well be considered to have potential for challenge.


REP TO MMO84

SUMMARY

HLM(B) consider that proposed modifications MM082 (BUC043), MM084 (BUC046) - amending policies BUC043 and BUC046 to secure contributions towards unexplained infrastructure are insufficient to make either policy sound, nor MM006. As such the VALP should be further modified by the deletion of all of the Buckingham and Maids Moreton allocations in favour of their allocation through the ongoing Buckingham Neighbourhood Plan revision by which time there would be more prospect of an adequate evidence base in relation to the transport impacts of each allocation. Even if the Inspector is satisfied that the evidence base justifies the allocations, there remains the question of how the identified mitigation strategy - where the WLR is prioritised - will be delivered. In this circumstance, to ensure the effectiveness of the Plan and meet its obligations in respect of infrastructure delivery the VALP should be modified to maximise contributions through further allocations.

FULL TEXT

1 AVDC propose modifications to both BUC043 and BUC046 in relation to the Buckingham Transport Strategy: "A financial contribution will be needed towards finding appropriate elements of the Buckingham Transport Strategy".

2 HLM consider that this is a wholly insufficient response to seek to make the allocations sound.

3 HLM (B) has set out detailed representations on MM083 - the deletion of BUC051. Such representations should be read in conjunction with HLMs objections to MM082 and MM084.

4 Of particular note, HLMs representations on MM082 and 084 highlight:
* the conclusions of AVDC's existing evidence base which is that there are significant congestion issues in Buckingham Town Centre already
the conclusions of the same evidence base that the Western Link Road has been set out as the most effective means of addressing existing issues and mitigating growth in Buckingham;
* the absence of any evidence base to conclude that BUC043 and BUC046, individually or collectively, with or without BUC051 or BUC025, will not also have a significant effect on an existing congested network;
* the absence of reference to the WLR in the MM210 listing mitigation schemes in an amended policy T3; and
* that BUC051 has totally unreasonably been singly and inappropriately ruled out of the Buckingham strategy - despite the positive role that it (or the alternative/additional BUC025) might play

5 Given the above, a requirement for an unspecified contribution towards unspecified works from a development without the benefit of a specific assessment of its impacts on a congested network, fails all tests of soundness. There isn't the evidence to justify. There isn't an effective mitigation strategy and hence it is neither effective or positively prepared.

REP TO MM0210

SUMMARY

Hallam Land Management (Buckingham) (HLM(B)) do not believe that the Main Modifications are sufficient to make the VALP sound, the Inspector having found this aspect of the Plan to be unsound in his IIF. T3 is therefore fundamentally unsound in failing to respond positively to the planning and delivery of infrastructure and failing to deliver necessary infrastructure accepted in the evidence base.
The infrastructure that must be included in the Plan according to the evidence base is the Western Link Road.

To deliver this - all allocations at Buckingham or Maids Moreton should be deleted to ensure that a comprehensive approach to delivery and allocations comes forward through the neighbourhood Plan OR that all sites including BUC051 and BUC025 are allocated to ensure that there is an effective policy to deliver the contributions to secure the WLR. The WLR can be delivered within the control of HLM(B) and New College.

FULL TEXT

1 The Inspector found that the Transport policies in the Submission Draft of the VALP were significantly lacking. While Policy T1 and T6a required the implementation of the proposals in the Buckinghamshire LTP4 and the Buckingham Transport Strategy "none of these proposals are specified in the Plan" (IIF para 46). This would be unsound because the NPPF requires that the plan "should make clear what is intended to happen in the areas over the life of the plan, where and when this will occur and how it will be delivered. It points out the need to identify the short, medium and long-term transport proposals across all modes as a key issue...".

2 Key within the Inspectors' findings is that "the key infrastructure requirements on which the delivery of the plan depends should be contained in the Local Plan itself. VALP does not do this and so is unsound as it stands".

3 In the first instance, Policy T3 seeks simply to "actively support key transport proposals" and will "support local transport schemes that provide benefits to the District". If the delivery of the listed infrastructure is prejudiced then permission would not be granted.

4 T3, as proposed to be modified, is therefore no more than a safeguarding policy rather than a policy that delivers the infrastructure identified as a requirement of the Plan's development strategy and the Plan's evidence base.

5 The inspector in the IIF noted that policy T1 required developments to implement LTP and BTS proposals. Policy T1 - following its modification by MM206 - will no longer do so. Policy T3 certainly does not do so in its proposed form.

6 Hallam Land Management (Buckingham) (HLM(B)) do not believe that the Main Modifications are sufficient to make the VALP sound, the Inspector having found this aspect of the Plan to be unsound in his IIF. T3 is therefore fundamentally unsound in failing to respond positively to the planning and delivery of infrastructure and failing to deliver necessary infrastructure
accepted in the evidence base and transport policies of the relevant authorities as a requirement.

7 Indeed, in this regard, the VALP as proposed to be modified appears to be vulnerable to challenge.

8 Specifically, MM210 sets out as required works - the Buckingham Town Wide cycle network improvement (short term) and the Buckingham to Silverstone Park cycle route (short term), A413 Buckingham Road improvements (medium term) and Buckingham left turn slip at A422/A413/Stratford Road Roundabout (medium term).

9 There is a considerable evidence base in relation to transport issues and strategy in Buckingham - not least the made Buckingham Neighbourhood Plan and in particular the Buckingham Transport Strategy and VALP IDP. Clear and robust conclusions are drawn.

10 The Western Link Road (WLR) is identified as necessary for Buckingham as a whole in the Infrastructure Development Plan - an expectation that has not been updated since the Examination hearings.

11 Equally important the Buckingham Transport Strategy considered the demands of growth at Buckingham as a whole - BUC043, BUC046, BUC051 and BUC025 (although the latter was not allocated in the submission VALP). Para 4.4.2 of the BTS ranked the Western Link Road as being of highest priority followed by the West Street downgrade. Other route upgrades and Left turn slip/junction improvements were given less priority. Funding of the priority schemes was acknowledged to be likely to rely principally on section 106 funding (4.5.3).

12 The Buckingham Transport Strategy is based on all sites coming forward and puts a section 106 contribution-based strategy in place to deliver what is needed to meet both the demands of the planned growth but also, explicitly, the existing traffic constraints and difficulties in the town - in particular the town centre. The key identified requirement is the WLR to facilitate the down grading of West Street.

13 This is a clear evidence base with a clear strategy for delivery.

14 Since the examination hearings the principal additional evidence produced in support of the Proposed Modifications is understood to be:
* the Revised County Modelling for Buckingham (Addendum to the Phase 3 Modelling Report) (3 April 2019) (ED214B)
* the Buckingham Town Centre Modelling report (24 May 2019) (ED214A)
* BCC's advice note to AVDC (ED215)

15 None of this additional evidence alters the conclusions of the BTS. Indeed, the evidence reinforces it as it concludes that the biggest issue here is the level of congestion in the Town centre. Traffic in Buckingham town centre is highlighted as an existing issue in the adopted Buckingham Neighbourhood Plan and Buckingham Transport Strategy, and indeed the most recent modelling (ED214A). One of the issues is the performance of the two key town centre junctions - the focus of the latest Town centre modelling report (ED214A). ED214A confirms that both junctions will be operating beyond capacity in 2033 - even with no new development in Buckingham. It concludes that each development scenario tested would be unacceptable.

16 One opportunity to deliver the infrastructure that should be included in the Plan - the WLR - is to maximise the contributions from development as is set out in representations made by Hallam in respect of MMs083, 082 and 084. The WLR can be delivered within the control of HLM(B) and New College - and can then be included in the VALP or worked through in the update of the Buckingham Neighbourhood Plan that has already commenced.

17 The only sound alternative is to not allocate any sites at Buckingham to meet the identified requirement and to devolve the allocation of sites to the next review of the Buckingham NP which is already underway. This is on the basis that there is simply not a sufficient evidence base to proceed with any of the allocations at Buckingham in the VALP. By this means opportunities for positive planning and integrated planning to deliver the WLR etc. could be realised through the NP rather than wasted in the unevidenced and incomplete strategy in the VALP.

18 The made Buckingham Neighbourhood Plan (made in October 2015) has proved highly effective in delivering substantial, locally supported, housing numbers. Such a course of action would avert the current need for more evidence prior to the adoption of the VALP. Instead the VALP process could proceed but could divert Buckingham allocations to the NP review, the existing NP having successfully allocated and delivered housing in the absence of an up-to-date Local Plan.

19 That a Neighbourhood Plan is a proper and established and effective route in other places as well as in Buckingham is evident in the experience, in the immediate vicinity at Thame. The Thame Neighbourhood Plan in adjoining South Oxfordshire has likewise successfully allocated sites for some 775 new homes and associated infrastructure - delivering the strategic policies of the District wide plan.

20 In setting out these observations HLM (B) is very aware that that addendum to the Sustainability Appraisal fails to consider any of the implications of the amended development strategy for Buckingham on the ability to deliver the key infrastructure that the evidence base demands. The SA Addendum simply considers the rather esoteric and immaterial question of whether including scheme details (across the VALP) as words in the VALP is positive or negative.

21 Overall the proposed Main modifications and resultant policies may well be considered appropriate for challenge.

NICK FREER - David Lock representing Hallam Land
Reps to AYLESBURY
Rep to MM031
FULL TEXT
1 Hallam Land Management (Aylesbury) controls land to the north east of Aylesbury including site BIE021.

2 To be clear HLM(A) has consistently sought a dialogue to help through its land controls to bring forward the North East Link Road which is the subject of this representation. No such discussions have been entertained by AVDC.

3 HLM has set out detailed representations in relation to MM210 and the changes that it introduces to Policy T3. In particular, substantial objections have been lodged that demonstrate that Policy T3 insofar as it addresses the delivery of key infrastructure at Aylesbury - as set in T3 - continues to fail the tests of soundness.

4 Policy T3 as proposed to be modified by MM210, has not addressed the fundamental issue of delivery of the North East Link Road. The VALP therefore remains unsound on the basis that:
* it is not positively prepared - providing no realistic strategy for the delivery of the North East Link Road;
* it is not justified - without such certainty regarding the North East Link the evidence base suggests that the development strategy for Aylesbury is not adequately mitigated;
* it is not effective given that sound infrastructure delivery planning is necessary to satisfy the test of effectiveness.

5 For the reasons set out in relation to MM210, and by the same token, Policy D1 as proposed to be modified by MM031 also remains unsound as it does not provide the means by which necessary infrastructure - identified in the evidence base as required to support and mitigate the development strategy.

6 Hallam notes that the Council intends to produce the 'AGT Framework and Infrastructure SPD' as stated in point (b) of Policy D1 (Delivering Aylesbury Garden Town). Under the National Planning Policy Framework's (NPPF) Test of Soundness, local plans are required to positively prepare for objectively assessed development and infrastructure. Whilst there is some flexibility in planning for the delivery of strategic matters, planning practice guidance is clear that in the case of a lack of certainty of funding for certain infrastructure, 'strategic policy-making authorities will be expected to demonstrate that there is a reasonable prospect that the proposals can be developed within the timescales envisaged. In addition, the PPG states that plans should assess deficiencies in existing and future infrastructure and set policies for how these deficiencies will be addressed (059 Reference ID: 61-059-20190315). To leave this to an SPD is inadequate and results in the plan not being prepared positively and therefore unsound in respect of planning for infrastructure delivery. The inappropriateness generally of deferring policy to SPD is noted by the Inspector in another context in para 45 (for instance) of the IIF.

7 It is not therefore acceptable or sound that the delivery of key infrastructure such as of the North East Link Road (or for that matter other infrastructure) to be deferred to the proposed AGT Framework and Infrastructure SPD.

SUMMARY

Policy T3 as proposed to be modified by MM210, has not addressed the fundamental issue of delivery of the North East Link Road. The VALP therefore remains unsound on the basis that:
* it is not positively prepared - providing no realistic strategy for delivering the North East Link Road;
* it is not justified - without such certainty regarding the North East Link the evidence base suggests that the development strategy for Aylesbury is not adequately mitigated;
* it is not effective given that sound infrastructure delivery planning is necessary to satisfy the test of effectiveness.

For the reasons set out in relation to MM210, and by the same token, Policy D1 as proposed to be modified by MM031 remains unsound as it does not provide the means by which necessary infrastructure - identified in the evidence base as required to mitigate the development strategy.

REP to MM210

FULL TEXT


1 Hallam Land Management (Aylesbury) controls land to the north east of Aylesbury including site BIE021.

2 To be clear HLM(A) has consistently sought a dialogue to help, through its land controls to bring forward the North East Link Road which is the subject of this representation. No such discussions have been entertained by AVDC or BCC.

3 The Inspectors' Interim Findings (IIF) (28th August 2018), provides the principal context for Main Modification 210 - the amendment of policy T3.

4 The Inspector found that the Transport policies in the Submission Draft of the VALP were significantly lacking. While policy T1 and T6a required the implementation of the proposals in the Buckinghamshire LTP4 and the Aylesbury Transport Strategy "none of these proposals are specified in the Plan" (IIF para 46). This would be unsound because the NPPF requires that the plan "should make clear what is intended to happen in the areas over the life of the plan, where and when this will occur and how it will be delivered. It points out the need to identify the short, medium and long-term transport proposals across all modes as a key issue...".

5 Key within the Inspectors' findings is that "the key infrastructure requirements on which the delivery of the plan depends should be contained in the Local Plan itself. VALP does not do this and so is unsound as it stands" (underlining added for emphasis).

6 Hallam Land Management (Aylesbury) (HLM(A)) welcomes the amendment of the Policy T3 to include those key infrastructure elements from the Aylesbury Transport Strategy (ATS) upon which the Plan depends. Specifically, HLM welcomes the inclusion of the North East Link Road at Aylesbury within T3.

7 This is essential to meet the expectations of the Aylesbury Garden Town Vision which includes "road improvements linking new developments to the town, and creating a series of link roads around the town" (VALP - para 4.30). The Vision specifically includes the North East Link Road between the A413 and A418.

8 It is essential also from the perspective of the need to address current issues in the network. In Examination document EC279, AVDC recognises that the ATS measures (including North East Link Road) also address current issues in relation to the capacity of the Network.

9 More important still, the North East Link Road is essential to mitigate the impacts of the development proposed in the VALP at Aylesbury and, in particular, in Policy D1 of the Plan.

10 Hallam Land Management has consistently made clear through the examination process that the BCC/AVDC evidence base and modelling shows that, without the North East Link Road, the impact of development on the A41, A413 and A418 isn't adequately mitigated. The Technical Note prepared by Markides Associates and appended to Hallam Land Management's Examination Matter 12 Statement was not queried or questioned in the examination hearings and needs to be given substantial weight.

11 The Technical Note draws out the conclusions of the VALP's own evidence base: the BCC Countywide model and, in particular, the Countywide Local Plan Modelling Phase 3 Technical Note.

12 The Markides Technical Note makes two fundamental points. In the first instance, it demonstrates that in either scenario DS1, or DS2, run by the County, there remains significant congestion in the southern quadrant of Aylesbury "particularly on the A418 through Stone and Harcourt" - with all of the link rods provided. We have previously questioned these allocations on this basis.

13 Second, and more directly related to the North East Link Road, the Markides Technical Note highlights the importance of the North East Link Road (which is included in the DS2 model run but not DS1 model run): "Without the provision of the additional link roads [including the North East Link Road] in DS2, there remain issues of congestion on the Stocklake link, A418 and A413 immediately north of Aylesbury and on the A41 to the east of Aylesbury. The North East Link Road offers significant benefits in this area, with scenario DS2 showing much reduced congestion ratios on the A41, A418, A413 and various link roads through the Aylesbury East area over both the DS and DS1 scenarios" [added for clarification].

14 Since the Examination, and the publication of the Inspectors Interim Findings, no new transport modelling appears to have been undertaken by AVDC/BCC in respect of Aylesbury. The ATS Final report 2017 and the Countywide Local Transport Modelling - Phase 3 Tech Note (August 2017) remain the most recent documents forming the evidence base for transport.

15 Little, therefore, appears to have changed since the Examination hearings. The only modelling work available to support the Proposed Modifications relating to Aylesbury shows that the North East Link Road is necessary to mitigate the impact of planned development at Aylesbury (see also para 1.8 of the IDP).

16 HLM(A) therefore considers it essential that the Aylesbury North East Link Road is included in the revised version of policy T3 as amended by Proposed MM210.

17 This is the position of AVDC also. By virtue of its inclusion in T3, it must be regarded by AVDC to be a key measure or intervention, and a requirement to facilitate growth at Aylesbury. Para 7.7 of the VALP - as proposed to be amended by MM203 - is explicit in this regard: "Transport measures and interventions contained in the ATS are required to facilitate growth in Aylesbury Garden Town. The key measures and interventions are set out in Policy [T3] below and supported by the Infrastructure Delivery Plan" [added emphasis].

18 Having been included in Policy T3 by MM210, the North East Link Road also must be included (in indicative layout form- consistent with the Aylesbury Garden Town Proposals and LTP) on the Aylesbury Policies Map.
19 However, Policy T3 as proposed to be modified by MM210, has not addressed the fundamental issue of delivery of the North East Link Road. The VALP therefore remains unsound on the basis that:
* it is not positively prepared - providing no realistic strategy for the delivery of the North East Link Road;
* it is not justified - without such certainty regarding the North East Link the evidence base suggests that the development strategy for Aylesbury is not adequately mitigated;
* it is not effective given that sound infrastructure delivery planning is necessary to satisfy the test of effectiveness.

20 The failings of the proposed policy T3 as proposed to be modified by MM210 are various.

21 In the first instance, Policy T3 seeks simply to "actively support key transport proposals" and will "support local transport schemes that provide benefits to the District". If the delivery of the listed infrastructure is prejudiced then T3 indicates that permission would not be granted.

22 T3, as to be modified, is therefore no more than a safeguarding policy and not a policy that delivers the infrastructure identified as required by the Plan's development strategy and evidence base.

23 The Inspector in the IIF noted that Policy T1 required developments to implement LTP and ATS proposals. Policy T1 - as modified by MM206 - will no longer do so. Policy T3 certainly does not do so - either in respect of strategic developments or globally across the Aylesbury Garden Town.

24 In the second instance, while T3 seeks to set out a delivery mechanism for the North East Link road - this is inadequate, insufficient and inconsistent with the remainder of the Main Modifications. MM210 states that North East Link Road will be delivered "through the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway". Whilst there is not yet a fixed route for the Expressway, Highways England have moved forward a little in terms of identifying route corridors. They have ruled out Corridor A, which would have passed close to Aylesbury and have narrowed it down to Corridors B1 and B3 - the nearest edge of these corridors crossing the A413 in the order of 5 miles north of the centre of Aylesbury, north of Whitchurch. The corridors don't actually reach the A418 north east of Aylesbury. AVDC cannot rely on this means to deliver the North East Link Road.

25 More fundamentally, AVDC has resolved as a Council to not support the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway nor any route in Aylesbury Vale. As a result the second and third sentence of T3 is therefore proposed to be deleted by the Council including the reference to "The scheme is supported by the Council and ...". The scheme is no longer supported by the Council. The Proposed Modifications do not however propose that the Expressway be deleted as the delivery mechanism for the North East Link road. Clearly this represents a very large inconsistency, perhaps oversight, and leaves the delivery of key listed infrastructure in the air and with no strategy.

26 Nor is it acceptable for the delivery of the North East Link Road to be deferred to the 'AGT Framework and Infrastructure SPD' as suggested in point (b) of Policy D1 (Delivering Aylesbury Garden Town). Under the National Planning Policy Framework's (NPPF) Test of Soundness, local plans are required to positively prepare for objectively assessed development and infrastructure. Whilst there is some flexibility in planning for the delivery of strategic matters, planning practice guidance is clear that in the case of a lack of certainty of funding for certain infrastructure, 'strategic policy-making authorities will be expected to demonstrate that there is a reasonable prospect that the proposals can be developed within the timescales envisaged. In addition, the PPG states that plans should assess deficiencies in existing and future infrastructure and set policies for how these deficiencies will be addressed (059 Reference ID: 61-059-20190315). To leave this to an SPD is inadequate and results in the VALP not being prepared positively and therefore unsound also in respect of planning for infrastructure delivery. The inappropriateness generally of deferring policy to SPD is noted by the Inspector in another context in para 45 (for instance) of the IIF.

27 There are also concerns with the claim in T3 that a North East Link Road would cost approximately £35 million to build. Typical construction costs for a 10m wide single carriageway road with 3m footways on either side would be £2050 per linear metre (Spons Civil Engineering Price Book 2017) and at an overall length of 3.2km would be expected to cost approximately £6.5 million. Allowing a further £2 million for junction connections to the A413 and A418 and a generous contingency allowance of 50% increases this to approaching £13 million, less than 40% of the cost that is being claimed in MM210 and more consistent with the IDP estimates for the Western Link, which is a similar length. The lower cost demonstrates that it could be effectively delivered through an appropriate mechanism as set out above.

28 In addition HLM have argued throughout the examination process that a modest high quality allocation on a part of BIE021 would also provide one delivery mechanism for the North East Link Road. This remains an available option and has been spelt out in detail in the examination documentation.

29 Hallam Land Management do not believe that the Main Modifications are sufficient to make the VALP sound, the Inspector having found this aspect of the Plan to be unsound in his IIF. T3 is therefore fundamentally unsound in failing to respond positively to the planning and delivery of infrastructure and failing to deliver necessary infrastructure accepted in the evidence base and transport policies of the relevant authorities as a requirement.

30 Indeed, in this regard, the VALP as proposed to be modified appears to be vulnerable to challenge.

SUMMARY

(HLM(A)) welcomes the amendment of the Policy T3 to include those key infrastructure elements from the Aylesbury Transport Strategy (ATS) upon which the Plan depends, specifically, the North East Link Road at Aylesbury within T3. The North East Link Road is essential to mitigate the impacts of the development proposed in the VALP at Aylesbury and, in particular, in Policy D1 of the Plan.
However, Policy T3 as proposed to be modified by MM210, has not addressed the fundamental issue of delivery of the North East Link Road. The VALP therefore remains unsound on the basis that:
* it is not positively prepared - providing no realistic strategy for delivering the North East Link Road;
* it is not justified - without certainty regarding the North East Link the evidence base suggests that the development strategy for Aylesbury is not adequately mitigated;
* it is not effective sound infrastructure delivery planning is necessary to satisfy the test of effectiveness.



Object

VALP Main Modifications

Representation ID: 3471

Received: 17/12/2019

Respondent: Wates Developments

Agent: Boyer Planning

Legally compliant? No

Sound? No

Representation:

The proposal to modify VALP Policy D-BUC046, such that development on that site must achieve 'at least' 420 dwellings, is problematic. It introduces a vague definition and would also penalise an applicant if less than 420 dwellings were proposed.
Additionally, the reference to the current status of the Neighbourhood Plan is unnecessary to make Policy D-BUC046 sound. It is also irrational, as the wording of the policy (as proposed to be modified) will be rendered incorrect in future.

Change suggested by respondent:

See full text

Full text:

Representation on Behalf of Wates Developments Ltd., in Relation to Proposed Main
Modification 0084
Representation
On behalf of our client, Wates Developments Ltd ('Wates'), please find below our response to proposed Main Modification 084 ('MM084'). This concerns Local Plan Policy 'D-BUC046' and the proposed allocation of Land off Osier Way, Buckingham, which Wates is seeking to bring forward.
An application for outline planning permission (ref. 19/00148/AOP) was submitted on 15th January 2019, and is being currently being considered by the Council in its capacity as Local Planning Authority ('LPA'). The application seeks consent for up to 420 dwellings, together with supporting infrastructure.
Our client objects to the proposal to modify Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan ('VALP') Policy D-BUC046 in the manner envisaged at MM084. There are two issues of concern.
Firstly, the wording of the policy is proposed to be modified to read;
"Current neighbourhood plan status Neighbourhood plan, made in October 2015. The land has no notation but is outside the settlement boundary. The neighbourhood plan is in early stages of review." (Emphasis our own).
The proposal to describe the progress of the Neighbourhood Plan review is unnecessary to make Policy D-BUC046 sound. It is also not a rational statement, as the VALP sets out a spatial and
development strategy up to 2033. It is highly likely that the Buckingham Neighbourhood Development Plan will have been reviewed (at least once) by 2033. As such, the proposed wording will be rendered incorrect in future and risks becoming misleading as a consequence. Accordingly, this part of MM084 should be rejected and deleted.
Secondly, a further concern, is that the 'site-specific requirements' set out in Policy D-BUC046 are proposed to be modified such that the development (of Land off Osier Way) will be required to provide "at least" 420 dwellings, rather than "around" 420 dwellings, as was the case in the Proposed Submission VALP.
This proposed modification is not justified, because it creates ambiguity concerning the scale of appropriate development. For example, 'at least 420 dwellings' could mean 421 dwellings, or it could mean 600. Conversely, a proposal for 419 dwellings (i.e. less than 420) could be regarded as being contrary to Policy D-BUC046 and attract negative weight as a consequence. In these respects, the proposed modification undermines the clarity and effectiveness of the VALP.
It is suggested that the reference to 'at least' should be replaced with 'approximately' or reverted to 'around' (as previously envisaged), as the common understanding of these terms (in this context) would be taken to mean a figure in the order of 420 dwellings. This would allow for the applicant to respond to site specific considerations and provide an appropriate scheme, without the risk of
conflict with the Development Plan.
Separately, it is noted Main Modification MM010 proposes to describe the overall VALP housing requirement as "a total of at least 28,600..." (Emphasis our own). It is considered that making this change is sufficient to signal the Council's intention to exceed the overall housing requirement.
There is no need to apply the same terminology to site-specific policies within the VALP, as (for the reasons described) this could result in unintended consequences that may undermine effective delivery.

Yours sincerely
Mike Newton
Director

Representation to Modification MM115

Representation on Behalf of Wates Developments Ltd., in Relation to Proposed Main
Modification 115
Summary Representation
On behalf of our client, Wates Developments Ltd ('Wates'), please find below our response to proposed Main Modification 115 ('MM115'), which relates to Local Plan Policy H1 'Affordable Housing'. This response is supported by Counsel's Opinion, provided by Sasha White QC (attached at Appendix 1).
Wates is seeking to bring forward Land off Osier Way, Buckingham, which is proposed for allocation in the Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan ('VALP') at Policy D-BUC046. An application for outline planning permission (ref. 19/00148/AOP) was submitted on 15th January 2019, and is being currently being considered by the Council in its capacity as Local Planning Authority ('LPA'). The application seeks
consent for up to 420 dwellings, together with supporting infrastructure.
On the basis of Counsel's Opinion, our client objects to the proposal to modify VALP Policy H1 in the manner envisaged at MM115. The principal concern, is that MM115 would allow for the affordable housing requirement to be specified on the basis of policies in existing Neighbourhood Development Plans. This would be the case where these Plans were adopted ('made') prior to the adoption of the VALP. In many instances, this would result in a higher affordable housing requirement being applied, when compared to the 25% requirement that is otherwise specified by
Policy H1 and which is derived from the Local Plan evidence base.
MM115 therefore represents a very significant departure from the position presented by the Council during the Examination. It is alarming then, that this modification is put forward without any supporting justification that purports to explain why this proposal (which plainly contradicts the Local Plan evidence base and examination library), should be otherwise regarded as well reasoned, necessary and justified. Indeed, MM115 appears to have been proposed without any consideration
of the potential implications.
Accordingly, we maintain that MM115 is not a necessary response to the Inspector's Interim Findings, and it is neither positively prepared nor justified. The proposed modification is also likely to be ineffective, and would result in Policy H1 becoming inconsistent with national policy. The proposed modification, if adopted, would therefore render the Plan unsound. Accordingly, it is essential that the modification envisaged in MM115 is firstly, rejected and secondly, deleted.
Full Representation
Our client objects to proposed modification set out under MM115, which seeks to amend the wording of Policy H1 'Affordable Housing'. The proposed modification would result in the application of a requirement for residential developments, of 11 dwellings or more (or sites of 0.3 ha of more), to "provide a minimum of 25% affordable homes on site, except where a different requirement already applies in a neighbourhood plan which has been made before the VALP" (emphasis our own). It is considered that this change would result in the Plan failing all of the tests of soundness, as detailed at NPPF (2012) paragraph 182. For reference, at Appendix 2, a table is provided which lists the 19 made Neighbourhood Plans in the Vale of Aylesbury and identifies the specified affordable housing requirement / policy position for each.
Positively Prepared
To meet this test, a Local Plan must be based on a strategy that meets objectively assessed needs and infrastructure requirements. In seeking to achieve this, the VALP sets out objectives, a spatial strategy and an approach to meeting housing needs that addresses the circumstances of the district, taking account of the available evidence. The Plan's evidence base gives detailed consideration to
development viability, taking account of identified infrastructure requirements. It is on the basis of this evidence that the proposed District-wide 25% minimum affordable housing requirement was identified, as the appropriate level of requirement.
If a higher proportion of affordable housing is mandated within some parts of the district, then there can be no certainty that development will be viable, taking account of the most up-to-date evidence.
This means that identified housing and infrastructure needs may not be met. Indeed, by introducing a varied affordable housing tariff across the District, without any credible evidence to support this approach, MM115 could seriously compromise the spatial strategy. This would undermine the fundamental foundation on which the VALP was prepared.
Indeed, as is explained in detail at paragraphs 16 to 25 of Counsel's Opinion (appended), affordable housing policies in made Neighbourhood Plans (and specifically the BNDP) are regarded as out-of-date, because they rely on aspects of the evidence base that have been surpassed and overtaken.
Justified
The proposal to apply different affordable housing requirements across the district was neither tested, nor explored, through the examination. The Inspector's Interim Findings did not identify a requirement to consider this matter and an alteration to Policy H1 was not put forward, by the Council, as a 'proposed action' in the Discussion Documents and related correspondence with the Inspector. It is not clear why the Council now seeks to propose to modify the Plan, at this late stage,
in a manner which is inconsistent with the advice and direction the Inspector has provided throughout the course of the process.
In attempting to introduce this very significant modification at this late stage, the Council appears to be seeking to circumvent the opportunity for effective discussion, and consequent analysis, through Local Plan examination hearings. If the Council had envisaged that Policy H1 should be worded such that affordable housing requirements would defer to made Neighbourhood Plans, then this
"requirement" should have been fully explored through the relevant hearing sessions. In this context, it is inappropriate to seek to introduce this change, which has fundamental implications for housing delivery, through a Main Modifications consultation. It is a matter of grave concern that the Council has failed to provide any clear justification in support of the proposed modification, either within the evidence material in the Examination Library or the Main Modifications Core Documents List (November 2019). The reasoning behind the proposed
modification is therefore entirely obscure. Indeed, for a Main Modification of this significance to be proposed without any supporting justification or reasoned basis, infers that limited consideration has been given to consequences regarding the soundness of the VALP.
Following on from the above, it is also worthy of comment that the position now pursued by the Council, in relation to Policy H1, is inconsistent with the arguments and evidence relied upon during the Examination. For example, the Council's response to the Inspector's Question 79 (which concerns the affordable housing requirement and Policy H1 specifically) states;
"To be in accordance with government planning policy and guidance, and so meet a test of soundness, the council has no option but to apply the method it has used to assess the need for affordable housing. The percentage put forward in VALP represents an uplift though on the 21% that the HEDNA concludes is needed to meet affordable housing need to address the shortfall that would result from the threshold excluding developments of ten houses or less that is required by the government. The adjustment is required to ensure that the council is in accord with the NPPF's
requirement to ensure that the total amount of affordable housing required to meet the HEDNA forecast is met."
Additionally; "Prior to the production of VALP Neighbourhood Plans were produced in Aylesbury Vale on the basis of existing evidence which did not apply the new method of affordable housing need assessment set out above. As a result those plans could justify a higher level of affordable housing need. That evidence is now out of date though and the newer evidence must inform the new local plan using the prescribed method for assessment."
It is assumed that the Council continues to maintain that the HEDNA and viability evidence-base provides a robust basis for the VALP. It is also assumed that the Council believes that the VALP's approach to affordable housing (and the proposed 25% requirement) is based on an appropriate methodological approach. If these assumptions are correct, then it must inevitably follow that MM115 deviates from both the findings of the evidence base and the prescribed methodology, both of which the Council relies upon as underpinning the Plan as a whole. Instead, as is noted at paragraphs 16 to 25 of Counsel's Opinion, MM115 would result on a reliance on earlier viability assessments, which have been superseded and which are out-of-date.
The policies proposed in a Local Plan can only be regarded as 'justified' if they are supported by appropriate and robust evidence. Proposed modification MM115 is not supported by any additional appropriate and robust evidence. It must therefore be assessed against the VALP evidence base, on which the Council has relied during the examination to date.
In this respect, it is noted that the Housing Topic Paper (January 2018) states;
"The council has engaged consultants Dixon Searle Partnership to advise it on viability. They have concluded that the 25% affordable housing requirement should be viable in almost all cases. They have further advised that the affordable housing requirement of 30% could be viable in some cases.
In the Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan Viability Assessment Final Report (August 2017), it is further noted that 'Value Levels' in Buckingham are typically lower than elsewhere in the District. In this respect, Figure 7 (at page 64 of the Assessment) identifies the 'Buckingham Overall Range' (of values) ranges from an average of £3,150 sq.m to £3,750 sq.m, which encompass categories 'VL2 to VL4'. In contrast, the Overall Range for Aylesbury (town) extends from 'VL2 to VL5', the 'Northern
Vale Range' extends from 'VL3 to VL6', whilst the 'Southern Range' extends from 'VL4 to VL7+'(1).
Accordingly, the proposal (set out in MM115) to rely on evidence, which the Council acknowledges to be out-of-date, cannot be a sound approach. This is particularly the case, as to do so would apply a 35% affordable housing requirement in Buckingham and so impose the highest tariff in the lowest value area. This cannot be regarded as an approach which is sensible, justified or (as explained below) effective.
Effective
For a Plan to be regarded as effective, it must be deliverable over the Plan-period. However, in view of the concerns raised above, MM115 will render the Plan ineffective. As has been stated, the proposed Main Modification would see a 35% affordable housing requirement be applied at Buckingham, whilst a 25% requirement would apply in higher value locations. This creates an incentive to direct future development away from Buckingham (a 'Strategic Settlement' as identified
in the proposed AVLP settlement hierarchy) towards more viable, but potentially less sustainable, locations. This consequence cannot be the true intention of the Plan, yet it is the inevitable outcome of MM115, if progressed.
The unintended consequences described above would invariably result in significant delays and, as such, it is recommended that proposed modification MM115 should be deleted. However, if MM115 is to be progressed, then the housing trajectory presented in the Plan will need to be reconsidered, as underlying assumptions concerning the delivery of the proposed allocations may no longer be valid. Likewise if a 35% affordable housing requirement is to be applied in Buckingham (assessed as the lowest value area in the district), then it may be necessary to consider increasing the scale of growth proposed at the town, in order to facilitate the Plan's viability and effectiveness. If it is not possible to significantly increase the apportionment to Buckingham, it may also be necessary to consider additional allocations elsewhere across the District.
(1) The 'Northern Vale' area includes Winslow and a number of smaller settlements. The 'Southern Vale' area includes Haddenham and Wendover, as well as further lower-tier villages.
In turn, it may be necessary to reconsider the Plan's spatial strategy and the broader approach to housing provision, and infrastructure delivery.
Such measures may be necessary to ensure that the Plan remains effective, both as a mechanism for meeting housing needs arising in the Vale of Aylesbury and accommodating the unmet need of adjoining authorities.
Consistent with National Policy
A key test of soundness is a Plan's consistency with National Policy. If a Plan fails to accord with national policy, it will fail to deliver sustainable development and cannot be regarded as sound. Three key concerns are raised in this respect and these are noted as follows;
Planning Obligations
The Housing Topic Paper (January 2018), which forms part of the Examination Library (ref. CD/TP/001) states;
"...the starting point for determining the level of affordable housing to be pursued in VALP is the forecast level of need rather than the calculation of what might be viable overall. Pursuing a higher target than justified by the need would, it is considered, contravene the Community Infrastructure Levy"
Similarly, the archived Planning Practice Guidance ('PPG'), against which the VALP is examined, states at Paragraph: 005 (Reference ID: 41-005-20140306) that;
"The National Planning Policy Framework requires that the sites and the scale of development identified in a plan should not be subject to such a scale of obligations and policy burdens that their ability to be developed viably is threatened."
As such, for the Council to propose a modification that will implement a higher affordable housing requirement than is justified in the (up-to-date) evidence base, would contravene the PPG and Community Infrastructure Levy ('CIL') Regulations (2010). Indeed, CIL Regulation 122(2), indicates that a planning obligation may only constitute a reason for granting planning permission for the development, if the obligation is necessary and reasonable related (in scale and kind) to the
development. MM115, if adopted, would prevent this test being met.
Viability
With respect to viability, it is remarked that, although the VALP is being examined against the policies of the archived NPPF 2012, planning applications are determined against the current NPPF (2019). NPPF paragraph 57 indicates that;
"Where up-to-date policies have set out the contributions expected from development, planning applications that comply with them should be assumed to be viable. It is up to the applicant to demonstrate whether particular circumstances justify the need for a viability assessment at the application stage. The weight to be given to a viability assessment is a matter for the decision maker, having regard to all the circumstances in the case, including whether the plan and the viability evidence underpinning it is up to date, and any change in site circumstances since the plan was brought into force. All viability assessments, including any undertaken at the plan-making stage, should reflect the recommended approach in national planning guidance, including standardised inputs, and should be made publicly available."
As such, if applicants submit viability assessments (in support of their proposals) they will argue that no Plan-stage viability evidence was presented in support of MM115. Applicants will also highlight the fact that the Council (in its response to the Inspector's Question 79) has stated that affordable housing requirements presented in made Neighbourhood Plan, are out-of-date. In this respect, it will be argued that the Neighbourhood Plan policy requirements for affordable housing were not based
on specific viability assessments for the relevant Neighbourhood Plan Area. Rather, the Neighbourhood Plan's simply drew on parts of the VALP evidence which were available at the time, but which have now been rendered out-of-date. Indeed, in the case of the BNDP, the 35% affordable housing requirements was based on the 'Vale of Aylesbury and Stage 1 Community Infrastructure Levy Viability Study' (2012), which was prepared in support of the then emerging Local Plan (which was withdrawn). In this context, MM115 cannot be regarded as being consistent with the approach to viability being pursued in national planning policies.
Role of Local and Neighbourhood Plans
Counsel's Opinion at paragraphs 9 to 31 (as attached at Appendix 1), confirms that the role of a Local Plan is to set out strategic policies. This contrasts with the role of a Neighbourhood Plan, which is to shape and direct non-strategic policies, and support the delivery of strategic policies set out in the Local Plan. This is clearly articulated in the archived Framework (2012) which, at paragraph 16, explains that the presumption in favour of sustainable development (as applied to Plan-making and as relevant to neighbourhood planning) means that neighbourhoods should;

- "develop plans that support the strategic development needs set out in Local Plans, including policies for housing and economic development;
- plan positively to support local development, shaping and directing development in their area that is outside the strategic elements of the Local Plan;"
NPPF (2012) paragraph 184, adds that;
"...The ambition of the neighbourhood should be aligned with the strategic needs and priorities of the wider local area. Neighbourhood plans must be in general conformity with the strategic policies of the Local Plan.... Neighbourhood plans and orders should not promote less development than set out in the Local Plan or undermine its strategic policies."
Whilst paragraph 185 states;
"Outside these strategic elements, neighbourhood plans will be able to shape and direct sustainable development in their area. Once a neighbourhood plan has demonstrated its general conformity with the strategic policies of the Local Plan and is brought into force, the policies it contains take precedence over existing non-strategic policies..."
The NPPF (2012), at paragraph 156, sets out what matters are encompassed by 'strategic policies',
noting that these include policies to deliver "the homes and jobs needed in the areas". It is quite correct that the VALP sets out a strategic policy (Policy H1) which provides the affordable housing requirement for the District. This requirement, as confirmed by the Local Plan evidence base (and pursuant to the appropriate methodology), should be set at 25% provision. For the VALP to be modified in such a way that an otherwise evidence-based policy is selectively ignored, in favour of
out-of-date Neighbourhood Plan policies, is both arbitrary and inconsistent with national policy.
Simply put, there is no basis in national policy for the Local Plan to delegate strategic policy-making to Neighbourhood Plans, in the way envisaged in MM115. Likewise, there is no justification for allowing an affordable housing requirement to be applied, which the Local Plan evidence-base finds to be unviable. It also does not matter that a number of Neighbourhood Plans (in Aylesbury Vale) have been made prior to the Local Plan. This is because Neighbourhood Plan policies must either
conform to the strategic policies of the Local Plan or must be over-ridden by them. Neighbourhood Plans can be brought into conformity when they are reviewed.
Conclusions
For the reasons explained, the proposed Main Modification (MM115) would alter VALP Policy H1 in such a way that the Plan would not meet the tests of soundness as described in NPPF (2012) paragraph 182.
The proposal to apply affordable housing requirements set out in made Neighbourhood Plans would mean that a key strategic policy in the VALP would no longer be based on the most up-to-date evidence. Consequently, there can be no certainty that the modification would not result in Plan's proposed allocations becoming unviable. Because of this, MM115 risks undermining the Plan's
overall capacity to meeting identified housing needs.
Furthermore, this proposed Main Modification has been put forward at a late stage in the Examination process and it does not respond to the recommendation(s) of the Inspector. The introduction of such a fundamental change necessitates meaningful consultation and discussion, and requires that AVDC prepare a further Local Plan Viability Assessment. Accordingly, should the Inspector be minded to support MM115, then it is requested that further Examination hearing sessions be scheduled in relation to Policy H1 and all other VALP policies that may be affected by it.
Wates requests that it is permitted to participate in any such hearing sessions.
On the basis of the forgoing, it is clear then that MM115 is unnecessary, arbitrary and inconsistent with national policy. It will, as a matter of fact, be prejudicial to the soundness of the Plan. Accordingly, on behalf of Wates, it is submitted that proposed Main Modification 115 is deleted and proceeds no further.
Yours sincerely
Mike Newton
Director
Our full representation is provided on the accompanying document (Attachment), together the Legal Opinion provided by Sasha White QC.