Aylesbury Vale Area

MM115

Showing comments and forms 1 to 9 of 9

Object

VALP Main Modifications

Representation ID: 2797

Received: 03/12/2019

Respondent: Land and Partners Ltd

Legally compliant? No

Sound? No

Representation:

We object to the suggested addition of new text in policy H1 "except where a different requirement already applies in a neighbourhood plan which has been made before the adoption of VALP". There is no justification for reverting to more out-of-date evidence for certain Neighbourhood Plan areas. Instead, if a Neighbourhood Plan wishes to go beyond the District-wide VALP policy, then it should make the case as part of a review, having regard to evidence that is more up to date than that on which the VALP is based.

Change suggested by respondent:

Removal of text "except where a different requirement already applies in a neighbourhood plan which has been made before the adoption of VALP".

Full text:

We object to the suggested addition of new text "except where a different requirement already applies in a neighbourhood plan which has been made before the adoption of VALP".

It is not clear why this modification is considered necessary to make the plan sound. It is not robustly supported by evidence, as the Council's legal opinion requires. The clear position of the Council during the hearing sessions was that there should be a single District-wide affordable housing target of 25% for sites above the size threshold.

ED108A provides the Council's answer to Inspector's Q79 vii) 'Should the requirement for affordable housing be varied between different parts of Aylesbury Vale'. This states:

"There is no evidential basis for varying the requirement for affordable housing between different parts of the District. Around two thirds of the population of Aylesbury Vale is within the Central Buckinghamshire Housing Market Area (Housing Market Areas and Functional Economic Market Areas in Buckinghamshire and the Surrounding Areas) (CD/HOU/001) and as such Aylesbury Vale operates as a largely single market area where there is no significant variation in prices or incomes. It is considered that affordability is broadly comparable across all of the district meaning that a variation on an areas basis is not justified. The Buckinghamshire Housing and Economic Development Needs Assessment (CD/HOU/004) contains no suggestion that the affordable housing should be varied across different parts of the District."

ED110 also provides the Council's response to Inspector's Q79. This response is clear that the evidence used to justify the Neighbourhood Plan affordable housing targets of 35% is out of date.

"To be in accord 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.

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."

ED123 provides the Inspector's reply to the Council's response to Inspector's Q79. It states that the Inspector is satisfied with the response.

ED77 provides the Council's response to Inspector's Q16. This questions sought the Council's observations on the points made with regard to VALP's relationship with the provisions of existing made Neighbourhood Plans. The Council's response appended the legal advice from Suzanne Ornsby QC of 4 June 2018 'RE VALP: CONFLICT BETWEEN VALP AFFORDABLE HOUSING REQUIREMENTS AND NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN AFFORDABLE HOUSING REQUIREMENTS ADVICE'. The advice clearly states in paragraph 10 that:

".. if the Council want to preserve the higher AH requirements in the NPs, these requirements will need to be expressly incorporated into the VALP as part of the VALP's policy on AH. In theory, this is possible. The difficulty, however, is that the different targets will need to be robustly supported by evidence. Further, for the VALP to be found sound, it will be important to show that a consistent approach has been taken across the area on a consistent evidence base. As such, it will be difficult to justify the different treatment of a small number of areas with their own particular earlier evidence base if a similar evidence base has not been prepared for all the parishes/sub-areas covered by the VALP and in any event the earlier evidence base is now inconsistent with the latest evidence base for the Local Plan in so far as it relates to the level of provision of affordable housing."

It is not clear why the Council is now proposing to set aside this legal advice. The Council robustly defended the District-wide 25% target through the hearings and the matter did not feature in ED166 Inspector's Interim findings of 29 August 2018. None of the Council's responses to Inspector's Questions provide a justification for the modification. Nor is there any discussion document about it. It simply appeared as a Proposed Main Modification, without technical justification.

We have reviewed the latest Government policy and guidance since the hearing sessions. No justification has been found for the suggested change.

Paragraph 30 of the NPPF states that once a neighbourhood plan has been brought into force, the policies it contains take precedence over existing non-strategic policies in a local plan covering the neighbourhood area, where they are in conflict; unless they are superseded by strategic or non-strategic policies that are adopted subsequently.

National Planning Policy Guidance (NPPG) states (Paragraph: 084 Reference ID: 41-084-20190509) that "...policies in a neighbourhood plan may become out of date, for example if they conflict with policies in a local plan covering the neighbourhood area that is adopted after the making of the neighbourhood plan. In such cases, the more recent plan policy takes precedence. In addition, where a policy has been in force for a period of time, other material considerations may be given greater weight in planning decisions as the evidence base for the plan policy becomes less robust. To reduce the likelihood of a neighbourhood plan becoming out of date once a new local plan (or spatial development strategy) is adopted, communities preparing a neighbourhood plan should take account of latest and up-to-date evidence of housing need, as set out in guidance".

By way of an example, the Winslow Neighbourhood Plan (WNP) has been in force for more than five years. It was prepared throughout 2013. The August 2013 Pre-Submission Plan was submitted to the Council in December 2013 and made in September 2014. There has been no review of this Plan to date; this will only take place after the VALP is adopted.

Policy 4 (Affordable Housing) of the made WNP states that housing sites of one hectare or more will provide a minimum of 35% of affordable homes, subject to viability. At the time the Pre-Submission Plan was prepared the proposed 35% aligned with the emerging Local Plan at that time - the Vale of Aylesbury Plan (VAP) which was subsequently scrapped.

Paragraph 4.37 of the Pre-Submission WNP states that the 35% requirement "..accords with Policy VS9 of the VAP in applying the standard district affordable homes policy to the WNP".

The WNP Basic Conditions Statement December 2013 explicitly justifies the 35% target based on the South East Plan, revoked in July 2010. Table (Neighbourhood Plan & Development Plan Conformity Summary) comments as follows:

"The policy accords with the provisions of adopted and emerging development plan policies to plan for affordable homes. Saved policy GP2 required between 20%-30% of total new homes to be provided as affordable but this was replaced by the adopted Aylesbury Vale Affordable Housing SPD in 2007 (40% on sites of 15 or more homes) and then by the South East Plan (35%). Although the South East Plan has now been revoked, the District Council has been using this proportion in its development management decisions since then. As developers appear to have accepted this policy arrangement and this same policy is proposed in the emerging VAP it seems sensible for the Neighbourhood Plan to adopt this approach."

In accepting the 35% target, the WNP Independent Examiner's report of May 2014 states on Page 24:

"Whilst the 35% threshold is above the Local Plan policy GP2's requirement, I note that affordable housing emerged as a local community aspiration during public consultation. Evidence was provided to demonstrate local demand and I find that Policy 4 has regard to national policy, which empowers local people to shape their surroundings."

So it is clear that any evidence of local demand that influenced the WNP is now very out of date. Firstly, the Neighbourhood Plan itself allocated sites for 159 affordable homes, many of them now built. So the identified need of the WNP is being met. Secondly, the VALP evidence base is more up-to-date and unlike the Neighbourhood Plans is not reliant on other Plans to derive their affordable requirements.

In conclusion there is no justification for reverting to more out-of-date evidence for certain Neighbourhood Plan areas. The Neighbourhood Plans that have a 35% target relied on strategic plans that are now out-of-date or superseded. Instead, if a Neighbourhood Plan wishes to go beyond the District-wide VALP policy, then it should make the case as part of a review, having regard to evidence that is more up to date than the December 2016 Buckinghamshire HEDNA update on which the VALP is based.

It is worth noting that the allocation of social housing across the District is currently divided into just four sub groups so even if a Parish provides a specific housing survey for its Neighbourhood Plan area, in practice the need is not met from just that Parish. For example, Winslow is part of the North sub group with Buckingham and many villages. This inevitably limits the ability of Neighbourhood Plans to justify departing from the District-wide figure; their evidence will inevitably be partial and not aligned with the wider, comprehensive evidence.

Object

VALP Main Modifications

Representation ID: 2941

Received: 11/12/2019

Respondent: Buckingham Town Council

Legally compliant? No

Sound? No

Representation:

BTC welcomes the acknowledgement that the figure of 25% is too low for some areas. BTC hopes that this will prompt consideration of evidence not brought forward at 2018 Public Hearings, the subject of separate direct correspondence with the inspector.
BTC asks that this is modified to include future NDPs which must be tested at Independent Examination so no danger of a NDP lacking said evidence, and/or not being in general conformity with the strategic policies of the Local Plan being made. This is a restrictive saving clause and we suggest that it is modified as proposed.

Change suggested by respondent:

this is modified to include future NDPs which must be tested at Independent Examination so no danger of a NDP lacking said evidence, and/or not being in general conformity with the strategic policies of the Local Plan being made. This is a restrictive saving clause and we suggest that it is modified as proposed.

Full text:

BTC welcomes the acknowledgement inherent that the figure of 25% is too low for some areas, if not all. BTC hopes that this will prompt the inspector to consider the evidence which was not brought forward at the Public Hearings in July 2018 - about which there has been separate direct correspondence with the inspector.
What is less acceptable is that AVDC have sought to put constraints on future NDPs. BTC can now only proceed with a new or refreshed NDP if it is prepared to lose the requirement of 35% affordable homes contained in the current Plan, which is saved here only in an existing Plan, even if there was appropriate evidence to support this.
BTC asks that this is modified to include future NDPs where strong evidence exists that the NDP Area has need of a higher figure of affordable housing. There is no need to remind the inspector that NDPs must be tested at Independent Examination alongside the supporting evidence; there would be no danger of a NDP lacking said evidence, and/or not being in general conformity with the strategic policies of the Local Plan being made. This is a restrictive saving clause and we suggest that it is modified as proposed

Object

VALP Main Modifications

Representation ID: 3086

Received: 17/12/2019

Respondent: Village Foundations

Legally compliant? Yes

Sound? No

Representation:

In summary we object to the revised wording of policy H1 and the addition of new text that would allow neighbourhood plans made before the adopted VALP to set a different affordable housing requirement.

Change suggested by respondent:

Removal of text "except where a different requirement already applies in a neighbourhood plan which has been made before the adoption of the VALP".

Full text:

We object to the revised wording of policy H1 that allows neighbourhood plans made before the adopted VALP to set a different affordable housing requirements.

From attending the hearing sessions and looking at the evidence base for the local plan it is clear that a district wide affordable housing target of 25% is reasonable. This is considered a realistic and achievable target in order to deliver affordable homes as part of market housing led developments.

The percentage of affordable housing has already been questioned by the Inspector as part of examination of the VALP(Q79) and it is not clear why this modification is considered necessary in order to make the plan sound.

The Inspector questioned whether the requirement for affordable housing should be varied across different parts of the district. Aylesbury Vale District Council full response is contained in examination document ED108A, in summary they stated, "there is no evidential basis for varying the requirement for affordable housing between different parts of the district. It is was considered that affordability is broadly comparable across the district meaning that a variation on an area basis is not justified. The Buckinghamshire Housing And Economic Development Needs Assessment (CD/HOU/004) contained no suggestion that the affordable housing should be varied across different parts of the district".

Some of the existing Neighbourhood Plans across Aylesbury Vale have been adopted with levels of affordable housing of around 35%. These neighbourhood plans were prepared using a different evidence base to calculate affordable housing and as a result could justify a higher level of affordable housing. AVDC has since acknowledged in responding to the Inspectors Q79 that the evidence base used to prepare those neighbourhood plans which contain a requirement for 35% affordable housing is now out of date. AVDC acknowledge that the newer evidence must inform the new local plan when using the prescribed method for assessment on affordable housing. Further details on this matter are contained in examination document ED110.

The Council has robustly defended the 25% target throughout the hearings and the matter did not feature in earlier versions of the Inspectors findings of 29 August 2018.

In conclusion we object to the new wording to policy H1 that "except where a different requirement already applied in a neighbourhood plan which has been made before the adoption of the VALP". Aylesbury Vale have acknowledged that there is a lack of evidence base to vary the levels of affordable housing across different parts of district. Instead, if a neighbourhood plan wishes to go beyond the District wide VALP policy, then it should be justified based on evidence that is more up to date than that which the VALP is based. This would need to be undertaken as part of a review of the neighbourhood plan.

Object

VALP Main Modifications

Representation ID: 3139

Received: 26/11/2019

Respondent: Armstrong Rigg Planning

Legally compliant? Not specified

Sound? Not specified

Representation:

Amendment to apply an affordable housing percentage from an existing neighbourhood plan should be deleted and the Affordable Housing SPD should be published alongside VALP

Change suggested by respondent:

Residential developments of 11 or more dwellings gross or sites of 0.3ha or more will be required to provide a minimum of 25% affordable homes on site. In addition...

Full text:

See attached document

Attachments:

Object

VALP Main Modifications

Representation ID: 3269

Received: 17/12/2019

Respondent: Mr Roy Van de Poll

Legally compliant? Not specified

Sound? Not specified

Representation:

The claim made at the July 2018 hearing session by Opinion Research Services (ORS) was that a figure of more than 25% affordable housing delivery on qualifying sites would not be viable. The fact that VALP has been modified in Policy H1 to permit existing made Neighbourhood Plans with a different delivery percentage (35% in the main) to take priority over the figure in VALP obviously debunks this claim, together with the data submitted to the hearing session by Buckingham Town Council showing that all neighbouring LPAs had affordable housing figures for qualifying sites far in excess of 25%. (officer summary)

Full text:

Please see attached submission.

Attachments:

Object

VALP Main Modifications

Representation ID: 3278

Received: 07/01/2020

Respondent: Home Builders Federation Ltd

Legally compliant? Not specified

Sound? No

Representation:

This modification is unsound as it is inconsistent with national policy.
This proposed modification includes additional text that would allow neighbourhood plans (NPs) adopted prior to the publication of the Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan (VALP) to maintain different affordable housing requirements. We have three concerns regarding the soundness of this additional sentence.
Firstly, such an approach is unsound as it is inconsistent with paragraph 30 of the NPPF in relation to the status of neighbourhood plans and non-strategic policies. This paragraph clearly states that NP policies will only take precedence over existing non-strategic policies in a local plan. Where local plan is adopted subsequent to a Neighbourhood Plan then the neighbourhood plan's policy will be superseded.
Secondly, the policy would have an impact on strategic allocations as set out in section 4 of the VALP. Paragraph 29 of the NPPF states that Neighbourhood Plans should not undermine strategic policies yet MM115 will require strategic allocations in areas with Neighbourhood Plans to provide a higher level of affordable housing than that tested at the examination of the local plan.
Finally, the testing of viability of NPs adopted prior to the submission of the VALP cannot have tested the impact of the policies it contains. For example, the Cheddington Neighbourhood Plan was considered to be consistent with viability evidence from 2012 and not the evidence published to support the examination of the VALP. As such the approach taken by the Council cannot be justified as an NP adopted prior to the examination and adoption of the VALP will not have been able to take into account all of the polices in the higher tier plan and the viability evidence supporting that plan.
The proposed amendment is therefore considered to be unsound and must not be taken forward into the adopted Local Plan.

Full text:

See attachment.

Attachments:

Object

VALP Main Modifications

Representation ID: 3375

Received: 17/12/2019

Respondent: North Bucks Parishes Planning Consortium

Legally compliant? Not specified

Sound? Not specified

Representation:

In conclusion the North Bucks Parishes Planning Consortium trusts, with the very substantial weight of evidence it has provided, proving beyond doubt that the proposed figure of 25% delivery for all tenure types of affordable housing on qualifying sites is very badly flawed and therefore unsound, being a very significant underestimate of true total need, that this vitally important issue will at least be tabled for discussion at a hearing session in 2020 to resolve a fundamental soundness issue and for fairness to all those current and future disadvantaged residents of Aylesbury Vale in genuine need of affordable housing. (officer summary)

Full text:

See attached document.

Attachments:

Object

VALP Main Modifications

Representation ID: 3482

Received: 17/12/2019

Respondent: Wates Developments

Agent: Boyer Planning

Legally compliant? No

Sound? No

Representation:

MM115 is unjustified, inconsistent with the Local Plan Evidence Base and Examination Library. The proposed Main Modification does not accorded with national policies, will be ineffective and will result in serious unintended consequences in relation to delivery. The MM115 is plainly unsound and should be deleted. Our full representation is attached, together the Legal Opinion of Sasha White QC.

Change suggested by respondent:

The proposed modification cannot be made sound. It should be deleted.

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.

Object

VALP Main Modifications

Representation ID: 3652

Received: 17/12/2019

Respondent: Gladman Developments Ltd

Legally compliant? Not specified

Sound? No

Representation:

object to the inclusion inclusion of additional text relating to
neighbourhood plans. This change would allow neighbourhood plans made prior to the adoption
of the VALP to maintain an alternative affordable housing requirement to that set out in the VALP.
Gladman object to this proposed modification as it is not considered to be sound. The more up to
date evidence which supports the 25% requirement in the VALP should be applied in all instances.The proposed approach will have an impact on a number of strategic allocations whereby they
will be required to provide a greater scale of affordable housing than has been tested through the
VALP examination.

Change suggested by respondent:

This proposed modification should not be taken forward within the
VALP.

Full text:

see attachment