Aylesbury Vale Area

VALP Main Modifications

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Object

VALP Main Modifications

MM115

Representation ID: 2797

Received: 03/12/2019

Respondent: Land and Partners Ltd

Legally compliant? No

Sound? No

Representation Summary:

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 There is no justification for reverting to more out-of-date evidence for certain Neighbourhood Plan areas.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.

Support

VALP Main Modifications

MM089

Representation ID: 2798

Received: 03/12/2019

Respondent: Land and Partners Ltd

Representation Summary:

We support all these changes. We are the promoters of the most accessible parts of WIN001 and the changes reflect the latest delivery position and progress with the pending planning applications.

Full text:

We support all these changes. We are the promoters of the most accessible parts of WIN001 and the changes reflect the latest delivery position and progress with the pending planning applications.

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