Decision Maker: Lead Cabinet member for Planning
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: Yes
1. The purpose of this decision is to agree on the proposed designation of the parish of Whittlesford as a Neighbourhood Area (NA). (See Appendix A – the application submitted by Whittlesford Parish Council (PC)).
2. A NA must be designated before a PC can prepare a Neighbourhood Plan (NP). There are national regulations guiding how this designation should be carried out which were revised in February 2015 to introduce time limits within which a Local Planning Authority (LPA) must make a decision on designation depending upon the nature of the application. If the application is from a PC and the NA proposed is their parish boundary the designation must be decided within eight weeks from the start date of the actual consultation. In turn this public consultation must be for a minimum of four weeks according to the regulations.
3. The process agreed by SCDC to designate a NA within this district is set out in Appendix B.
Application from Whittlesford Parish Council
4. Whittlesford Parish Council has decided that it would like to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan (NP) for its area. They have applied to SCDC for their whole parish to be designated as a Neighbourhood Area (NA) supplying a map of the area to be designated, and a statement explaining why the area should be designated. The consultation started on 8 July until
5 August 2016. A decision must be made on this designation by South Cambridgeshire District Council by 2 September 2016.
5. The proposed NA follows the Whittlesford parish boundary. This proposed area is logical in spatial terms and will clearly make sense to the local community being an existing administrative boundary for the parish. The PC has set out clearly in its statement why it considers this to be the preferred option for its NA. (See Appendix A – NA application question 8)
6. SCDC has eight weeks from 8 July to make a decision on the proposed area – the deadline for a decision is 2 September 2016.
7. Consultation on the area application was undertaken by SCDC as required, with support from the PC:
(a) Prior to the application for area designation, the PC made its local community aware of its intention to prepare a NP. Discussions were held between the PC and community members to consider the extent of the NA and issues for consideration in any future NP.
(b) The application form and the map indicating the proposed NA from Whittlesford PC, which includes a statement of why the area should be designated, was published on SCDC’s website on 8 July 2016 and gave a closing date of 5 August 2016. Representations could be submitted on the consultation in a number of ways, namely via the online consultation system, by email or post.
(c) The application to designate the Whittlesford Neighbourhood Area was available during this period at the District Council offices and on the noticeboard in the Memorial Hall, Mill Lane, Whittlesford
(d) SCDC consulted with the consultees that are used for Local Plan consultations.
(e) SCDC consulted with all PCs within a three mile buffer zone of the boundary with Whittlesford Parish.
(f) With assistance from the PC, SCDC also contacted local groups, businesses, landowners and schools in order to meet the requirement to bring the consultation to the attention of people who live, work or carry out business in the proposed NA.
(g) Posters were displayed across the proposed NA in key locations throughout the consultation period.
(h) The PC also publicised the consultation in their local area.
(i) An item advertising the consultation was placed in the Planning Policy monthly update, which goes out to all parishes across the district.
(j) SCDC issued a press release about the proposed consultation.
8. 12 representations have been received, none objecting to the area designation. This low level of response is to be expected given that it was not a consultation on a NP itself with policies and proposed site allocations. Of the representations received Natural England and Sport England have all offered general support to neighbourhood planning and web links to relevant advice they have to assist PCs in preparing a NP. The Whittlesford Society along with a number of local residents supported the PC’s intention to prepare a neighbourhood plan for the parish. Gladman Developments also responded to the consultation setting out the national guidance relevant to neighbourhood planning and outlining how a NP must generally conform with the strategic policies in the emerging Local Plan. A summary of the representations received between 8 July to 5 August 2016 is attached as Appendix C.
Consideration by South Cambridgeshire District Council
9. South Cambridgeshire District Council (SCDC) is supportive of Whittlesford PC preparing a NP for its parish and keen for the two councils to work together in considering the future
development of the area. SCDC recognises that there have recently been a number of speculative planning applications within the village and that by preparing a NP the PC aims to play a key role alongside SCDC in shaping the future of the village.
10. The NA proposed by the PC is considered by officers to follow a natural boundary as it is that of the parish and therefore would be an effective NA for neighbourhood boundary purposes.
Local Development Scheme
11. The Local Development Scheme (LDS) was approved in February 2014 and sets out the planning documents that SCDC proposes to prepare. An addendum was agreed by the Planning Portfolio Holder in August 2015 to include a list of the NAs that have been designated within the district. The August addendum was revised in November when a further three areas were designated and in May when an additional area was designated Whittlesford NA is now being recommended for designation and therefore the May addendum should be further revised to add this NA if it is approved. ( See Appendix D)
It is recommended that the Planning Portfolio Holder approves:
a) The designation of a Neighbourhood Area for Whittlesford as proposed by the Parish Council.
b) An amendment to the neighbourhood area addendum of the Local Development Scheme that was approved in August 2015 so that Whittlesford can be added to the list of Neighbourhood Area designated within the District.
(a) Decide to designate an alternative NA to that applied for by Whittlesford PC. However the proposed NA is logical and clearly recognisable to the local community as it is the parish boundary and no objections have been received to suggest an alternative area.
(b) Decide to defer a decision on the NA. However SCDC must decide on the area within 8 weeks from the start date of the consultation. The local community has had an opportunity to comment on the proposed NA following the process agreed by the Cabinet in May 2014 and no objections have been received.
Publication date: 17/08/2016
Date of decision: 17/08/2016
Effective from: 25/08/2016