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CBC Response to Examiner's Questions

CBC Response to Examiner’s clarification questions (West Mersea Neighbourhood Plan Examination)


Question 1

I have seen the Main Modifications statement by the LP Inspector and have attempted to identify any WMNP policies which might be particularly impacted by them. I will be making comments in my report specifically about LP Policies OV2, DM1, DM5 and SS21b, but do any others come to mind in respect of this exercise that CBC would advise me to be aware of?

Other Main Modifications to Local Plan Policies that may impact on WMNP Policies

  • Policy SG8: Neighbourhood Plans (MM13) (sets out the Strategic Policies in the Local Plan that Neighbourhood Plans are required to be compliant with.)
  • Policy PP1: Generic Infrastructure and Mitigation Requirements (MM26)
  • Policy ENV1: Environment (MM20)
  • Policy ENV2: Coastal Areas (MM21)
  • Policy CC1: Climate Change (MM25)
  • SS12c: Mersea Island Caravan Parks (MM67)

Question 2

• Policy WM4: Are CBC saying they think all references to starter homes should be dropped (ie, para 5.15-5.16 and the last sentence of the first paragraph of the policy)?

The reference to making provision for starter homes has been removed from Policy WM3: Land at Dawes Lane (it was previously referenced under the ‘Housing’ section in the Regulation 14 Plan). The CBC comments were therefore suggesting that the reference in the first sentence of paragraph 5.16 to this being in Policy WM3 (‘The development at Dawes Lane (Policy WM3) makes provision for starter homes..’) should be removed too.

As the Plan was submitted for examination before the 28th June 2021 we acknowledge that there are transitional arrangements in place in relation to reflecting the Government First Homes policy requirement and that Starter Homes are still currently defined in NPPF. CBC had therefore not suggested removing all references to starter homes. However, if removing reference to starter homes would help to future proof the policy but retain the objective of providing homes for first time buyers, the policy or text could be reworded to refer to homes for first time buyers in line with National Guidance.

• Also, I note that DM8 as it is proposed to be modified requires “30% of new dwellings (including conversions) on housing developments of 10 or more dwellings (major developments) in urban areas and above 5 units in designated rural areas”. Should WM4 not be amended to reflect this?

Yes, in line with the Main Modifications proposed to Policy DM8 we would suggest Policy WM4 is amended to reflect this (ie ‘10 or more dwellings’)

• In addition, I do not understand the comments CBC make about para 5.17 (which appears to mistakenly also refer to para 5.23) and Policy WM5. Please could the council state clearly what revised wording they are suggesting?

Reference to paragraph 5.23 was an error in our comments.

The CBC comment was in relation to identifying the difference between Entry Level Exception Sites (ELES) and Rural Exception Sites (RES) and the differences in establishing a ‘need for affordable housing’ for each. It was considered that as worded, paragraph 5.17 combined the two types of sites. Currently Paragraph 5.17 refers to ‘entry level homes’ on ‘rural exception sites’. As the reference to ELES has been removed from Policy WM5 (this was previously contained in the policy in the Regulation 14 Plan) the reference could also be removed from paragraph 5.17. We have suggested possible rewording below:

Granting planning permission on an exceptional basis for affordable housing on land next to but outside the defined Settlement Boundary, is one way to provide affordable housing which will continue to meet local needs, through small-scale schemes, including entry level homes for purchase on “rural exception sites” outside the Settlement Boundary where housing would not normally be permitted

Question 3

Policy WM8: I am mindful of the advice about the role of the Nationally Described Space Standards contained in the Ministerial Statement of March 2015. I note that Neighbourhood Plans are not expected to adopt these standards; as a matter of fact, have CBS done so as local planning authority?

Policy DM12: Housing Standards includes a requirement that ‘internal space standards demonstrated to be in accordance with the National Described space Standards (DCLG 2015) or any future replacement of this;’.

The Council provided additional evidence requested by the Inspector to justify CBC’s decision to include the Nationally Described Space Standards within the Local Plan - view the ‘Colchester Space Standard Report’.

Question 4

Policy WM17: The text notes that the planning permission for Brierley Paddocks “reserves” provision for a new medical centre. Could this be explained, please?

Approval for application 192136 for Demolition of 1 dwelling (No. 43 Seaview Avenue) and erection of up to 101 dwellings and up to 0.5ha of D1/B1 commercial use, on Land at Brierley Paddocks, West Mersea, included a condition that the 0.5ha of the site that is to be used for commercial purposes shall be used solely for B1 or D1 uses and for no other reason.

Application 200960 for approval of reserved matters following outline approval (192136) for erection of 101 dwellings and 0.5 ha commercial D1/B1 uses on Land at Brierley Paddocks, West Mersea, was approved in 2020. This included a condition that:

‘Not withstanding the provisions of the Use Classes Order (1987 as amended) or any subsequent replacement statutory instrument, the surgery building as shown on the approved plans shall be retained for a doctor’s surgery/medical purposes permanently.’ The commercial unit as shown on the plans shall be retained as commercial uses permanently. Those being: (a) as an office (b) for research and development of products or processes, or (c) for any industrial process, being a use which can be carried out in any residential area without detriment to the amenity of that area by reason of noise, vibration, smell, fumes, smoke, soot, ash, dust or grit.

No changes to other uses are permitted without the benefit of a full planning application.

Reason: To ensure the scheme as has been assessed with the provision of these elements in place and it has been approved on that basis. These uses are needed to secure the provision of employment opportunities and local healthcare facilities in conformity with the Emerging Local Plan. Any other uses would need careful assessment by the LPA to ensure they did not cause material harm to neighbouring amenity and were acceptable in policy terms.’

Question 5

Policy WM19: This policy appears to assume that planning permission could reasonably be refused on the grounds that there is insufficient capacity in local schools (although that is not stated in so many words). The examiner doubts that this could be justified, certainly in relation to smaller schemes – do CBC have a view?

CBC consider that the policy will allow contributions to be made towards education where a need is identified. Main Modification MM26 to Local Plan Policy PP1 would add in the words ‘including education’ to the Generic Infrastructure Policy:

In addition to site specific requirements identified in relevant policies, all proposals will be required to make contributions to the cost of infrastructure improvements and/or community facilities, including education, as required and supported by up-to-date evidence from appropriate sources including the Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP), Parish/Town Council, or specially commissioned work. Contributions will be secured to an appropriate level by way of legal agreement or through CIL as required

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