Members at today’s Council meeting have agreed to propose changes to the draft Cornwall Local Plan following recommendations made by the Secretary of State appointed inspector earlier this year. The proposed changes to the plan will now go out for a six week public consultation in the New Year.

The results of the public consultation, which will centre just on the changes to the Cornwall Local Plan, will then be considered by the Inspector as part of the Local Plan Examination when it resumes.

At the hearings held earlier this year the Inspector recommended additional work and gave advice about changes to the Plan to make it ‘sound’ before it can be considered for adoption.

Edwina Hannaford, Cornwall Council cabinet member for planning said: “Cornwall needs a Local Plan. We need an adopted plan so we can start determining local planning applications on locally agreed policies and not having to rely on the National Planning Policy Framework alone. We need an adopted Plan so that policies for economic development, affordable housing, renewable energy and the protection of our precious landscape, among others, have weight and are defendable.

“We also need the Plan to support plans for our towns that identify areas where growth should go and importantly where it shouldn’t, rather than just respond to developer’s applications.

“We need a plan that supports Communities to develop their own Neighbourhood Plans.

“However, to be adopted by the Council and therefore carry full weight, it must first be found ‘sound’ by an independent Government appointed Inspector at a public examination.

“From the earlier hearings of the examination the Inspector recommended that the housing target should be increased but also cautioned against planning for too many more houses that simply would not be built or harm our economic plans. In addition, he recognised the Council’s very strong commitment to delivering affordable housing.

“Unless the issues raised by the Inspector are addressed to his satisfaction he will not be able to find the Local Plan ‘sound’; consequently the Council would not be able to adopt the Plan and national planning policies will continue to be used for planning decisions. The Government has also recently announced its intention to step in to undertake the plan-making function if local authorities cannot progress them by 2017.

“The changes to the draft Local Plan that have been agreed by members today strikes what we hope will be the necessary balance which will be acceptable to the people of Cornwall and the Inspector.”

“In the meantime, we shall continue to press the Government for devolved powers for planning in Cornwall.”

The Inspector’s headline recommendations were to:

  • re run the housing model and update the housing target using the Government’s housing projections published this year.
  • increase the Plan’s housing target to reflect the pressure from existing second and holiday homes and consider if further increase is needed to meet affordable housing needs.
  • be clearer about how the Plan’s policies support the economic strategies and employment land, particularly how much and where.
  • adjust Affordable Housing targets to a more achievable level .
  • engage better with Gypsy and Traveller communities to get better evidence of their needs.

As a result of these recommendations, the key changes agreed by full Council today and which will now go out for public consultation are

  • to increase the overall housing target to 52,500 (from 47,500) following a reassessment of the economic strategy, updated demographic projections and how the Plan supports the needs of particular groups;
  • distribution of this new target to meet need across Cornwall adjusting this up and/or down to reflect local circumstances – particularly economic objectives, the need for affordable housing and what can realistically be delivered;
  • revise how many affordable houses that can be expected based on what is viable;
  • new targets for sites to meet the needs of Gypsy and Travelling communities

Existing permissions and houses that have been built between 2010 and now will count against the headline figure. This means that nearly 11,500 of the proposed 52,500 homes required have already been built and over 20,000 more have planning permission .

This means the plan needs to allow for 21,000 over the next 15 years. At present on average 33% of all homes built are affordable homes.

Story posted: 15 December 2015