The following is a press release from the Ashbourne Neighbourhood Plan team.
Derbyshire Dales District Council (DDDC) decided on 2 October to start again on the preparation of a Local Plan for our area, following the response from the Planning Inspector at a recent public hearing. It is expected that this will take at least another 18 months. This means that the District Council will not have robust strategic planning policies until 2016 at the earliest.
What does this mean for Ashbourne?
It means that the town cannot rely on the District Council refusing ‘unsustainable development’ through its own policies. The decision of the DDDC means that the Local Plan no longer exists or to use the technical term, ‘will have no weight’ in the consideration of planning applications.
Over the last year nearly 600 new homes have either been granted planning consent in Ashbourne or are about to be. In addition a further 437 homes are planned for the Airfield site. Assuming a minimum of 3 people per home, given that most homes are planned to be larger homes, this means an additional 3000 plus people or put another way a 37% increase in the town’s population. This will have a major impact on Ashbourne’s existing community services such as education, health, fire and police. In addition there is the impact on Ashbourne’s unique rural market town setting and increasing traffic.
The Council’s Corporate Director for planning states
The Council will be unable to resist applications for housing development in the interim unless any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of providing land for housing.
What are the planning and development criteria that would make it possible to refuse unsustainable development in the future. The answer rests with the National Planning Policy Framework which the Government published in 2012. Basically there are 3 main criteria:
How can we assess the adverse impacts of any scheme and the balance that would need to be tested to ensure that any housing scheme is in the best interests of the community? DDDC cannot tell us. However through the preparation of the Ashbourne Neighbourhood Plan we believe that by applying nationally accepted Building for Life criteria on all future development proposals the planning authority would have coherent and rational grounds for accepting or refusing planning applications.
On 15th October the Ashbourne Neighbourhood Plan Group has arranged a public meeting at 7 p.m. at Ashbourne Town Hall to explain how the Neighbourhood Plan can protect Ashbourne’s character and identity during a period of housing growth. It will demonstrate how we can use the Building for Life criteria to promote sustainable growth and ensure that the ‘floodgates’ are not opened to developers now that the Local Plan no longer exists.
This is your chance to help manage future development in our town for the benefit of the community rather than developers. The Neighbourhood Plan is the mechanism to ensure that Ashbourne develops in a measured and sustainable manner for the benefit of all. This cannot be achieved without everybody’s views.