Agenda item

Local Plan Review

To consider the Local Plan Review.


The Policy and Strategy Service Manager and the Senior Policy Planner presented the report on the Local Plan Review. The Panel were given a summary of the report and the main points were as follows:


·       The Local Plan played an important role in shaping the local communities and would enable the Council to react to climate change and implement regeneration attempts around the District, as well as facilitating investment in the area.

·       Reviews of Local Plans are required every 5 years by Government. Part 1 of the previous review began in 2020 shortly after the Covid pandemic began. Since this point, the Government have made significant changes to the planning system. Part 2 was yet to progress due to the events of the past few years and the significant changes in planning policy.

·       One key concern was the Council’s housing supply and how it had worsened since the 2020 Covid pandemic. The Council was currently unable to provide a 5-year provision of housing.

·       There were three options for the next steps in the Local Plan Review. The recommended option was for a fresh, full review to be undertaken in order to allow the Council to consider the challenges and opportunities facing NFDC in line with climate change, the shrinking and aging population, the new initiatives being considered by the Council and the transport investment policy. This option also allows the Council to address the significant lack of housing land supply and respond in a meaningful way to the changes seen since the Covid pandemic.

·       The full review would include the preparation of a District wide design code alongside a new local plan. The initial timetable proposes milestones and timeframes for when key activities and outcomes would be expected.

·       A Summer 2025 consultation would enable the key-issues to be considered and responded to by the NFDC community for input into the new local plan.

·       A cross-member working group would enable collaborative working on this matter and further community engagement would enable the appropriate consultation of stakeholders across the New Forest.

·       On the financing of this review, there would be an initial cost to the Council which would be met through a combination of reserves for the Local Plan as well as funding through fees attached to planning applications. Additionally, £200,000 for the preparation of a Design Code would be met in the budgets for the forthcoming years. Despite the significant initial outlay, the full review would act as an investment tool for businesses and development in the area for the future.


Following the presentation, members of the Panel were able to ask questions and make comments on the report. These were as follows:


·       A member asked whether there would be the ability to change some of the Council’s existing planning policies. It was acknowledged how the existing policies had seen the Council face a self-perpetuating issue when it came to the supply of housing, and it was hoped that a positive change in the policies would enable the Council to better meet the needs of the District.

·       Another member commented on the need to improve the housing supply and how the new local plan required detail on its policies to achieve more desirable planning applications being submitted to the Council.



That the Panel provided comments to the Cabinet on the content on this report, and

supported the intended Cabinet recommendations, as follows;


That the Cabinet recommends that the Council agree to:


(a)   commence a full review of the adopted Local Plan, to include Local Plan Part 1: Planning Strategy 2020 and policies saved from earlier local plans, and the  preparation of a Design Code(s) for the Plan Area.


(b)   publish the updated Local Development Scheme work programme at appendix one, initially to cover financial years 2024/25 and 2025/26;


(c)   approve an initial Local Plan budget covering the next two financial years of £700,000, noting that £370,000 is currently allocated in a specific reserve, and that statutory increases in planning fees are expected to yield an additional income of £265,000 over this initial two year period to further contribute towards the cost to complete the full review;


(d)   approve a budget of £200,000 to cover the preparation of a Design Code(s) for the Plan Area;


(e)   agree to update the Statement of Community Involvement to set out how the public and other interested parties will be consulted and can participate in the Local Plan review; and


(f)    agree to the formation of a cross-party working group to provide wider Member engagement, oversight and scrutiny into the preparation of the Local Plan.

Supporting documents: