|19 June 2015|
Dear Martin Doyle/ Geoff Geaves
Woking Borough Council’s response to Pyrford Neighbourhood Plan (Regulation 14)
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on your proposed Pyrford Neighbourhood Plan.
The Council acknowledges the amount of work and effort that has been put into preparing the Neighbourhood Plan and commends the Forum on the output. The Council has a statutory duty to assist communities in the preparation of neighbourhood plans and orders. Woking Borough Council has assisted the Forum and provided informal comments throughout as and when requested. We welcome this formal opportunity to comment on your emerging Neighbourhood Plan.
The Plan is very good in setting out the context for the Plan and the history of the area. It is clear that substantial research has been undertaken to inform the Plan. However, the Council is of the view that many of the policies set out in the proposed Neighbourhood Plan reiterate policies in the adopted Core Strategy and other supplementary guidance and documents of the Council. It would be helpful if the policies are drafted to be locally distinctive with reference to the locally identified issues.
The Council also believes that parts of the proposed Plan will conflict with strategic policies and proposals contained in existing (and forthcoming) Local Development Documents; the Council therefore objects to the plan.
The Council’s full comments are attached for your consideration when making modifications to the Plan.
Planning Policy Manager
This is the Council’s response to the Neighbourhood Plan,
Reference is made to the Statement of Consultation. For the Community to make informed representations, it will be helpful for the evidence to be made available, preferably on your website. The regulations require the publication of a statement that:
- Contains details of the persons and bodies who were consulted about the proposed neighbourhood development plan
- Explains how they were consulted
- Summarises the main issues and concerns raised by the persons consulted; and
- Describes how these issues and concerns have been considered and, where relevant, addressed in the proposed neighbourhood plan.
The above guidance is highlighted for the Forum to take into account when the Statement of Consultation is finalised for submission to the Council.
The Statement of Consultation will be required to be submitted alongside the proposed plan when the Neighbourhood Forum formally submits to the Council.
As a helpful approach to consider, you need to ensure your policies sufficiently address the issues which have been identified. The issues should be informed by the outcome of the initial survey. There should be a common thread between the two. The issues need to focus on the evidence base and be fed into the drafting of the policies. It is not considered that this is the case currently. There are some issues which are expressed as opinion rather than reference to fact.
It is not clear whether use has been made of the Pyrford Parish profile available on the Council website. It is clear from your minutes that there is a concern that you have failed to engage with a range of population. It is not apparent from the publicity section whether you have engaged with the primary school or active groups in the village that cater to a range of age groups.
The link between the surveys and the strategic aims and objectives is not clear.
The vision refers to the special rural and residential character; this has not been identified, which would make it hard for the decision maker to consider.
The strategic aims and objectives should be deliverable and measurable. For example bullet point 1- “Ensure future developments in Pyrford meet the wishes of the community”. The wishes of the people would be difficult to define in each development. It will be helpful to if the objective is caveated by “as expressed by thisneighbourhood plan”. In addition the way in which residents can have increased involvement over developments may be better expressed as greater engagement locally with the planning process. This comment is made without knowledge of the issue that leads to the objective, if it relates to ability to influence planning decisions locally then the Neighbouhood Plan in totality would be the appropriate tool.
All maps contained in Neighbourhood Plan should be based on an Ordnance Survey map, be clear and readable. They should have a key where appropriate and they should all be copyrighted.
Commentary based on character study work or other evidence base should be cross referenced.
Part 6, Policy VI1
You should be aware that the Council implements a CIL tariff. I reiterate former comments made by the Council on village infrastructure policies,
o It would be helpful if you can align the definition of infrastructure with what is set out in CS16 in the Core Strategy (p85).
o In terms of delivery and enhancement of infrastructure, you should ensure you are not duplicating what is already identified in various Council documents such as the Infrastructure Delivery Plan IDP, The Regulation 123 list, Transport Strategy and program (prepared by Surrey County Council) and other such documents. This is essential in order to avoid double counting of any contribution that the Council may wish to secure on the back of development for infrastructure in the area
o This section should be supported by evidence from utility providers in order to be meaningful together with an understanding of the processes outside the planning system in place for developers to bring forward and fund infrastructure, for example, potable water infrastructure.
- The CIL regulations allow for a proportion of the CIL income to be given to the Forum for additional development impacts and a list of the infrastructure set out in the Plan that you wish to use the money provides a degree of transparency. You may wish to use CIL in relation to projects outlined in Part 10 of the proposed plan.
- Looking into the details of the VI policies it is necessary for you to ensure that the requirements are realistic. You should make sure that you are fully aware of the requirements of Regulation 122 and 123 of the CIL regulation, i.e. a planning obligation must be:
- necessary to make the development acceptable in planning terms,
- directly related to the development
- fairly and reasonably related in scale and kind to the development.
- not overlap, and
- pooling of s106 contributions is limited to five schemes.
- The Forum should consider whether the requirement to submit a infrastructure survey for all developments more than 10 dwellings is reasonable.
- What information does the Forum expect should be contained in the survey?
- The wording of the policy only requires a proposal be accompanied by a full infrastructure survey, but it does not require that the survey to demonstrate anything in particular. You need to be clear what the survey should demonstrate and what the implications will be if the survey is not provided.
- It should also be made clear what will occur should there be a deficit in infrastructure given the CIL regime and the role of statutory utility providers.
The Forum should consider whether there is a need for policy VI1 since the CIL Regulations ensure that planning obligations can still be sought for site specific infrastructure where it is directly related to the development rather than resolving an existing problem.. It will be helpful to know the level of engagement carried out with providers to demonstrate that existing infrastructure/utilities do not have capacity for further development and/or what is needed by way of mitigation to make development acceptable.
Part 6, Policy VI2
The Forum should consider whether this policy is necessary. The Council’s Core Strategy Policy CS18 Transport and Accessibility sets out that the Council will ensure…
…development proposals provide appropriate infrastructure measure to mitigate the adverse effects of development traffic and other environmental and safety impacts (direct or cumulative). Transport Assessments will be required for development proposals, where relevant, to fully assess the impacts of development and identify appropriate mitigation measures. Developer contributions (through CIL) will be secured to implement transport mitigation schemes.
- It is considered that CS18 already seeks to address the issue of vehicular movement and highway safety and it is not necessary to have an additional policy. If you wish to retain this policy, you could make it locally specific by relating it to a particular local issue/road etc. As the policy is drafted, you may also wish to broaden the scope of the policy to cover other impacts of increased vehicular movements such as pollution.
o Data could be added around car ownership or cross referenced. o It would be helpful for rat runs to be shown on a map.
o Any evidence of congestion would be useful rather than anecdotal information; it should be noted that this is an existing situation which CIL is not intended to support.
- Commentary is contained elsewhere on ‘walking buses’, does the primary school have an up to date travel plan?
- Wisley Airfield is a separate issue to the Plan, the comment is however understood but the Forum should consider its relevance here.
o It is not clear how access to the station is adequate given the sentence that precedes it.
o The current situation could be mapped to show issues spatially.
Part 6, Policy VI3
Flooding is very important issue to address and the Council appreciates the concern of the Forum’s regarding this. The Counci’s Core Strategy Policy CS9 Flooding and water management is a comprehensive policy which requires that development be directed to areas of low flood risk unless this is unavoidable (in which case it should be demonstrated as such through a sequential test and exception test). In addition, development proposals located within or adjacent to flood risk areas (all forms) are required to submit a Flood Risk Assessment to determine the level of impact and introduce mitigation measures.
Policy CS9 also requires that all significant forms of development incorporate Sustainable Drainage Systems. This is further supported by recent changes to national policy which requires all proposals for ten or more dwellings be supported by sustainable urban drainage systems. The Council is currently preparing further guidance on SuDS.
The Forum should consider whether there is a need for this additional policy on top of CS9 and recent changes in national policy requiring sustainable drainage is incorporated into development at the planning stage. The policy as drafted is limited in scope and reflects what is in the Core Strategy or national policy on flood risk. The Forum should consider, if the policy is retained, deleting the word ‘Urban’ as legislation now relates to sustainable drainage.
The Forum should consider cross references to any sources of evidence that exist. The Forum may also wish to consider the approach adopted to key views in the
Ascot and the Sunnings Neighbourhood Plan which was adopted in 2014.
The Forum may wish to consider replacing words such as ‘numerous’ with the exact number.
The Forum may wish to cross reference to Conservation Area Statements.
The list of buildings does not include the category of listing for all of them, the Forum may want to distinguish between national and local listings.
Is there a reason why you have added buildings on the list as ‘pending inclusion’?
Part 7, Policy BE1 (a)
The Council supports the need to conserve and enhance the character of the areas within the Borough and seeks to do this through various policies and guidance. The Council seeks to achieve high quality design through a plethora of policies and guidance including Core Strategy Policies CS21 Design, CS24 Woking’s landscape and townscape, the Design SPD and various SPGs. These require that new developments respect the character of the surrounding area, including consideration to the scale, height, proportions, building lines, layout, materials and other characteristics of adjoining buildings and land. The Design SPD contains detailed guidance on how to achieve high quality design. The Forum should consider whether there is a need for this policy given the substantial guidance available.
If the policy is to be retained, for practical application it will be helpful for the explanatory text to define the actual local characteristics that development should seek to be “in keeping with”. Phrases such as ‘retain the village feel’ are not measurable. This is necessary because the background information demonstrates how the area has evolved.
Part 7, Policy BE1 (b)
The Forum should consider whether there is a need for this policy given the existing policy requirements in the Core Strategy and substantial guidance available (as stated above). If the policy is to be retained, for the policy to be locally specific and for practical application it will be helpful for the explanatory text to define the actual characteristics that development should seek to be “in keeping with”.
It is noted that Built Environment Character assesments can be found on your Forum’s webpage under “Evidence Base”. I have been unable to find any reference to the assessments in the ‘Village Built Environment’ section or the policy itself. If these assessments support the policy then they should be referenced here.
It should be noted that the Forum has no powers in relation to designation of Conservation Areas or other heritage assets; the Council does not have a dedicated officer dealing with these matters. If you would wish to progress these items, which is a worthy aspiration, the Council is unlikely to have the resources to support the work.
Part 7, Policy BE2
The Council’s Parking Standards SPD sets out parking requirements in the Borough (this is currently being updated). The requirements for visitor parking is set out on page 7, para 2.12-2.15 of the SPD. This states that if on street parking is not considered feasible, applicants can propose the inclusion of extra car spaces to be allocated for visitors parking, up to a maximum rate of 10% of the total number of car spaces provided for the development.
The Forum’s proposed policy has not set out a quantifiable amount of additional on-site parking that should be provided as part of a development. Is it in excess to the maximum 10% of the total number of car spaces set out in the Council’s SPD or is it the same? The Forum should define what it means by ‘additional’. If this is more than the current requirement then the Forum should provide supporting evidence to justify why. It should also justify why there is a need for a blanket requirement throughout the Neighbourhood Area. At present, I do not consider the policy to be in line with Local Development Documents.
Part 7, Policy BE3
The Forum should consider whether there is a need for this policy given the existing policy requirements in the Core Strategy and substantial guidance available. The Woking Design SPD covers in detail many of the aspects outlined in the proposed policy. In addition the comment on low density belies the fact that this is one indicator of many which would be considered and the Core Strategy sets out policy on density across the Borough.
Part 8, Policy OS1
The Forum should consider whether there is a need for this policy given the existing policy requirements in the Core Strategy. Core Strategy Policy CS24 Woking’s landscape and townscape sets out that some schemes may require landscape character assessments (paragraph 5.256).
If the Forum wishes to pursue this policy to ensure that the local landscape character is sufficiently considered and any harm mitigated against, then;
- The Forum should define what is meant by ‘significant’ new development, this should be clear and quantifiable.
- The landscape character should be defined with reference to the evidence base.
- The Forum should define the specific areas where a visual impact assessment would be required e.g Pyrford Escarpment. Provide or refer to an existing map. The map (Figure 1) does not cover the whole Escarpment. The map should be clear, with a key and copyright.
- The Forum should explain what the visual impact assessment should demonstrate and if any mitigation measures can be introduced to address any potential harm.
- It would be normal to provide for development which causes serious or significant harm to not be permitted rather than any harm as the latter does not allow for a balance in decision making.
- It may be helpful to consider the role of open space and Green Belt separately.
It should also be noted that the policy should not seek to control development outside the Neighbourhood Area.
Part 8, Policy OS2
The policy is proposing the designation of a number of green spaces within the Neighbourhood Area as Local Green Spaces. Paragraph 76 of the NPPF enables local communities through neighbourhood plans to identify special protection green areas of particular importance to them. New development on Local Green Spaces will only be permitted in very special circumstances.
National guidance (PPG) sets out a criteria that should be met in designating Local Green Spaces and that not all areas will be appropriate for designation. The broad criteria is:
- where the green space is in reasonably close proximity to the community it serves
- where the green space is demonstrably special to a local community and hold a particular local significance, for example because of its beauty, historic significance, recreational value (including as a playing field), tranquillity or richness of its wildlife; and
- where the green area concerned is local in character and is not an extensive tract of land
Another consideration set out in national guidance is whether the site is already covered by an existing designation and whether additional designation would be of local benefit. For example Pyrford Common is already designated as Green Belt and also benefits from nature conservation designation (Site of Nature Conservation Interest SNCI).
The Forum is proposing four areas for Local Green Space designation. It will be useful for the Forum to demonstrate in detail how the four areas identified, individually meet the criteria set out in order to justify the designation.
Another consideration is ownership. Is the Forum able to demonstrate that landowners would support the designation of their land in this way. And therefore whether it is realistically deliverable for this purpose.
The maps (Plan 1-4) are not a consistent style and are difficult to read. The maps should be based on an Ordanace Survey map, clear, with a key if appropriate and copyrighted. Hand drawn maps are not appropriate as they do not define clearly the boundary of the area.
Part 8, Policy OS3
The Council supports the principle of maintenance and improvements to public rights of ways. The wording of the policy suggests all development will be expected to make a contribution to this. The Council has an adopted CIL tarrif operating. This is set out in policy CS16 of the Core Strategy. The Council can still secure on-site developer contributions on a case by case basis taking into account of the statutory tests set out in the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations 2010 (and any amended order).
Therefore there is already a mechanism in place where contributions can be sought for site specific infrastructure (e.g. potential to seek contributions towards improvements to rights of way if a case can be made and is in accordance with Regulation 122 of the CIL Regulations). The Neighbourhood Forum may wish to consider whether the policy is necessary. If the policy has to be retained, it could be improved by identifying specific schemes that the Forum wishes to use its part of the CIL contributions to implement.
Part 8, Policy OS
The Council supports the conserving and enhancement of biodiversity assets in the Borough and seeks to achieve this through policy CS7 Biodiversity and nature conservation and CS8 Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area. The Forum may wish to consider whether
- part (a) of the policy is already sufficiently covered by Policy CS7 in the Core Strategy.
- part (b) of the policy is already sufficiently covered by Policy CS7 and CS8 in the Core Strategy. CS7 ensures mitigation measures are put in place that would affect sites or feature of biodiversity and appropriate mitigation measures are put in place. CS8 seeks the protection of the Thames Basin Heath Special Protection Area identified as an internationally important habitat for three rare species of ground nesting birds. The policy requires mitigation measures in the form of contributions towards Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace SANG and Strategic Access Management and Monitoring (SAMM).
- part (c) of the policy is already sufficiently covered by Policy CS7, CS17 and the draft Development Management Policy DM1 Green Infrastructure Opportunities in the draft Development Management Policies DPD.
- part (d) of the policy is already sufficiently protected through CS7 and CS9 Flooding and Water Management in the Core Strategy.
- as a guide, the use of the word “normally” should be avoided.
- The policy can be enhanced by making it locally distinctive by, for example, specifying the Green Corridors that need to be maintained.
- Paragraph 8.4.2 can be recast to be more specific to the Neighbourhood Area.
Part 8, Policy OS5
The Council supports the protection and provision of new trees within new development. Various Core Strategy policies including CS7, CS16, CS17, CS21 and CS24 seeks for the protection and provision of new trees for the various benefits they provide including biodiversity, drainage and amenity reasons.
The Council has also drafted a policy DM2 Trees and Landscaping, which covers in more detail how the Council will determine development proposals involving trees. The Forum may wish to consider whether there is a need for a further policy in the Neighbourhood Plan.
The Forum should consider whether paragraph 8.6 should be where it is.
Part 9, Policy SCS1
The Forum has identified community assets in this policy. The process for registering assets of community value is set out nationally. Information is provided via the link below
If it is the Forum’s intention to formally register these community assets then we will forward your request to the Asset Management Team within the Council who are responsible for maintaining and updating a list. This is advice that the Forum could consider.
To do so, the Forum will need to establish whether the ‘assets’ they have identified can be placed on the register. Some types of land are exempt from inclusion on the register. For example you may want to check if Pyrford and Wisley Flower Show be listed as a community asset?
The policy can have unintended consequences, it assumes development that maintains/enhances the identified assets will be supported. There could be unsustainable development in a number ways that maintains these assets that could be approved. The Council supports the principle of the policy aim of maintenance and enhancement of these assets provided it does not conflict with other relevant plan policies.
Part 9, Policy SCS2
The Core Strategy policy CS17 and CS19 seeks the provision of recreational facilties to meet the needs of the community, this can be in the form of CIL contributions or on site provision. The Forum should consider whether there is a need for this policy.
The reasoned justification of the policy states that the ideal site for a park would be at Arbor Youth Club and beside Tegg’s Lane. If it is the intention for the Forum to allocate these sites for this purpose then there should be a clear map of these areas and justification for their allocation. The Forum should also consult with landowners of sites to establish whether the sites are deliverable for the stated uses.
The Council would object to proposals made by the Forum that it considers contradict the Council’s Local Development Documents. The area south of Tegg’s Lane has been identified for safeguarding for future development needs between 2027 -2040 within the Council’s Site Allocations DPD. It is not clear what other sites have been considered and the basis for identifying this one above any others. The Forum may wish to refer to Fields In Trust guidance or appendix 4 of the Core Strategy in terms of catchments areas for formal play. An analysis of the existing provision and catchments would assist. The Forum may wish to considere community use of the school facilities.
Part 9, Policy SCS3
The Council supports the principle of meeting the needs of the aging population. The Council has an adopted CIL tarrif operating but is still able to seek planning obligations through S106. This is set out in policy CS16 of the Core Strategy. The Council can still secure on-site developer contributions on a case by case basis taking into account of the statutory tests set out in the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations 2010 (and any amended order).
Therefore there is already a mechanism in place where contributions can be sought for site specific infrastructure. The Neighbourhood Forum may wish to consider whether the policy is necessary. If the policy has to be retained, it could be improved by identifying specific schemes that the Forum wish to use its part of the CIL contributions to implement.
Part 10.2 Locally listed buildings
It is presently not normal practice for the Council to regularly inspect locally listed buildings. The Council will keep this request under consideration.
Part 10.3 Arbor Youth Club
The Council will object to proposals made by the Forum that it considers contradicts the Council’s Local Development Documents (LDDs). The area south of Tegg’s Lane (in the vicinity of Arbor Youth Club) has been identified for safeguarding for future development (2027-2040) within the Council’s Site Allocations DPD.
The Forum states “Representation will be made to designate the land behind the Arbor Youth Club for recreational use”. A plan of the area should be provided. If the proposal conflicts with the Council’s LDDs, the Council will object.
Public Bus transport
The operation of public transport services is not in the remit of planning. Although this is recognised in the first paragraph of this section.
Health and wellbeing
The Council seeks the protection of community facilities in policy CS19 Social and Community Infrastructure.
Built Environment Character Assessments- It can not be emphasised enough the need for maps to be provided in these assessments. This is important to set the context and for policy clarification (if the assessments are intended to support the policies in the NP).
Images/photographs would also be useful given the topic of the assessment.
The Coldharbour Road assessment does not contain an in depth assessment of the character and quality of the area, however it is the only area specifically referenced in the policy. It is not clear from the assessment the reason for highlighting this area.
Landscape Character Assessment (LCA)- The Council made previous comments on the LCA and has no further comment on this. However you should be aware that the Council will object to proposals made by the Forum that it considers contradicts the Council’s Local Development Documents. The area identified on page 13 in the LCA has been identified for safeguarding for future -development (2027-2040) in the emerging Site Allocations DPD.
Part 10 Projects
A Map would be useful for 10.1.
10.4 may require a site to be allocated; has the Forum given any consideration to where this might be and whether the land is available?
Part 11 Relationships:
Bullet 1 should be clear it is the CIL income from new development in the plan area up to 25% of which is the neighbourhood portion.
Bullet 2 will require County and Borough resources to be made available and could be unrealistic in the current environment.
The Neighbourhood Forum needs to follow a specific process in preparing a Neighbourhood Plan or Order. A link is provided to the regulations
Regulation 14 of the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012 requires Neighbourhood Forums to undertake consultation with the local community who live, work or carry out business in the area for a period no less than six weeks. My understanding is that the Forum has undertaken various rounds of consultation prior to this and this will be its final consultation prior to submission to the Council.
The Neighbourhood Plan policies should be in general conformity to the Strategic Policies of the Development Plan for the area. The Council objects to parts of the Neighbourhood Plan it feels conflicts with Local Development Documents- in particular reference to the Site at Teggs Lane/Land by Arbor Youth Club which is identified in the Council’s draft Site Allocations DPD.
Whilst it is up to the Forum to determine the content of the Neighbourhood Plan, it would be helpful if the plan does not repeat policies that area already covered in other Local Development Documents of the Council or by national policy.
The next step for the Neighbourhood Forum is for it to make any changes following the public consultation to the Neighbourhood Plan.
Following this the Neighbourhood Forum would have to formally submit the Neighbourhood Plan to the Council as the Local Planning Authority.
The Neighbourhood Forum will need to submit the Neighbourhood Plan with all the associated documents set out in Regulation 15 (see link above), including a map, consultation statement, a statement explaining how the Neighoubourhod Plan meets the ‘basic conditions’ (requirements of paragraph 8 schedule 4B to the 1990 Act link). This includes demonstrating the Plan is compatible with EU obligations. If the Forum would like the LPA to provide a screening opinion in relation to the SEA Directive then they will need to formally request this.