There have been questions raised about policies within the Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) and the consultation.
We have put together a summary of these points which we hope clarify the policies within the plan.
Please direct any specific queries about the content of the Plan to our office so that we can publish a factual response that our wider community can read. The email address for this is firstname.lastname@example.org
Communication and Engagement Strategy
“What is the annual site traffic of the parish council website? With the following information above can you continue to ignore answering factually to questions on social media? (There is a difference between giving an opinion, I hope you came to a unanimous conclusion about what a parish councillor is allowed to comment?).
The NDP concerns everyone who may wish to purchase/build a first home until 2030. What percentage of the 175 engaged people consulted where under the age of 25? (Would be, min, 32 year old when the NDP lapses)”
A communication and engagement strategy was drafted in the very early stages of the Plan process to help ensure that consultation was as effective as possible.
Details of the level of consultation, engagement and response can be found in the Consultation Statement on the NDP website:
As well as the website, there was a Facebook page and twitter account which were used to good effect.
The figure of 175 does not reflect the number of people actually engaged with during several extensive periods of engagement, which was far greater.
Information on the consultations was also passed to local organisations for dissemination to their members, via their own social media if they desired.
Leaflets and questionnaires were sent to all households in the parish. The main questionnaire included specific questions relating to current and projected housing needs from those within the household. Housing needs data was also gathered from Cornwall Council’s official records.
Events took place at different times of the day and at weekends to ensure no-one (whether working or not) were excluded. Additional sessions were facilitated following a request from a member of the community.
The adequacy of consultation is one of the issues looked at in the NDP Independent Examination. The Examiner said ‘Examination of the documents and representations submitted in connection with this matter have led me to conclude that the consultation process was thorough, well conducted and recorded’.
The Working Group do understand the power of social media. However we are also wary of contributing to inflammatory debate and the Parish Clerks advise extreme caution when joining in and commenting on social media.
Local housing market and personal gain
“The NDP will squeeze the local housing market. And as a result push up the average age, house prices, rental rates & the number of holiday lets. (Please correct me if there is evidence to suggest otherwise?)
It is possible that members of the Parish Council and the team that put the report together may be set to financially profit from this.
This could include (but not exhaustive):
- Developments under the LET2 policy
- Capital gains on primary residences and/or buy to let properties
- Increased demand and rent prices for both residential and holiday let
Can all contributors to the NDP (not just council members) fully declare all their interests (including the ones listed above)? If so where it can be found, and can it be shared publicly on social media as soon as possible before the vote?… If so why not?”
We can find no evidence to back up this assertion. In reality the macro-economic conditions applying to the Cornwall housing market are the cause of high house prices, and it would take a massive release of new housing in the area to make any difference to market conditions. Such a level of housing provision is not possible in an area as environmentally sensitive as Calstock Parish, and it would be likely to be strongly opposed by the community.
It is unfounded and reprehensible to imply that the strategy for housing was put together by the Steering Group with the aim of personal financial gain. The Steering Group and the Parish Council examined a great depth of evidence and debated the issue of the NDP housing at length. This is clearly reflected in the housing section of the NDP, pp55 – 58.
Particular attention was given to community attitudes to housing provision. It was clear that whilst community feedback recognised the requirement to address affordable housing needs, and that housing development can sometimes bring wider benefits such as the development of brownfield sites and securing the on-going use of a heritage building, there was considerable concern that village character and heritage, wildlife and biodiversity, and the green spaces between villages had been harmed by development. People were clearly of the opinion that in future new development should be of a scale and character that respects the distinctive qualities of the area, in line with National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) requirements for sustainable development.
This analysis was the reason that the housing strategy was defined as it is.
Council members (and committee members) complete a register of interest form which can be requested from the Clerk’s office. Cornwall Council also hold the register of interest forms for all Councillors.
Councillors have to follow the Code of Conduct and can be reported to the Monitoring Officer if there is concern that their conduct has breached this Code.
Provision of extra care homes
“Does the plan go far enough to ensure retirement living/ extra care/nursing homes are provided in the parish? (moving local elderly residences to local suitable accommodation is also a mechanism to free up local housing stock).
Can a new dwelling conforming to “The Building for Life 12 standard” be built outside of the settlement boundary be built?
Can extra care/nursing homes/facilities be built outside of the settlement boundary if they facilitate that community?”
It was the intention that the Plan would fully address this need, but it was not able to go so far as was intended to do so.
NDPs are required to be realistic. There seems little point in allocating a site for a use unless there is a realistic prospect of the development going ahead.
There is no public funding available at Parish level to support such a new development, whilst Cornwall Council’s Extra Care programme is focused on towns, as is the limited private funding available. The submitted NDP therefore included an enabling policy [HP6] that would allow Extra Care housing as a ‘rural exception’ outside Development Boundaries, in the anticipation that such an approach may make this form of provision more achievable. However, the Independent Examiner said that this would not meet the ‘basic conditions’ for NDPs and recommended to Cornwall Council that the policy be removed from the Plan and combined with the policy on Housing Choice (HP5): ‘On new housing developments of over units 10, proposals will be supported in accordance with Policy 6 of the Cornwall Local Plan and which provide a housing mix that: ……c. Addresses the need for dwellings designed to meet special needs such as ‘lifetime homes’ fully accessible or extra care units suitable or readily adaptable for disabled or elderly people, on parts of the site with generally level access. (Further information as to standards required may be found in the Cornwall Council Housing Supplementary Planning Document October 2019.)’
References were also transferred to the design policy: ‘Extra Care Units whose primary purpose is to provide housing and care to meet the needs of local elderly and/or disabled people will be supported where it would meet current design standards including dementia friendly design.’ This includes the clause that ‘Development proposals should demonstrate the application of The Building for Life 12 standard.’
It is anticipated that should a proposal for extra care or similar which is designed to meet proven local needs be submitted for land outside the Development Boundary, the Local Planning Authority will take a pragmatic approach.
Business and Development Opportunities
“The NDP will also create business & development opportunities, outside of the settlement boundaries (Policy LET 2) … to quote…“tourism facilities and accommodation will be supported where they are within or adjoining existing settlements”
In addition to this what design commitments (ie parking) and, what infrastructure contributions will these ‘tourism developments’ make?
The NDP describes the stress and strains put on the village infrastructure set out in para 16.1 NDP
What is the evidence to say that this is a preferable option to housing? And where are the younger generation that will work and service these tourist developments live?”
All the design standards in the NDP and the Cornwall Local Plan (CLP) and Cornwall Design Guide (CDG) will apply to such proposals. They will be expected to make the same contributions to infrastructure as any other form of development.
Tourism development is not seen as a preferable option to housing. It is valued though as visitors and tourism generate income by supporting local business, increasing revenue and offering employment opportunities to local people.
Numbers of holiday homes
“Are there any restrictions on houses being changed to holiday home set put in the NDP?”
This is a fraught area of Planning law as a it is a “matter of fact and degree” as to whether a holiday let is materially different to a dwelling house. There is no legal requirement that before a building can be described as a dwellinghouse it must be occupied as a permanent home. Case law appears to be that if the conversion is minimal then the building remains in Use Class C3 ‘dwellinghouse’ and its use as a holiday let does not need planning permission, and thus cannot be controlled by NDP planning policy. Therefore it seemed little point in including it as a NDP policy on the topic.
If the conversion is significant (e.g. a larger dwelling converted to several flats), then then this may well constitute a material change of use to a ‘sui generis’ use (a use of its own kind), and planning permission would be required, in which case the full range of NDP, Cornwall Local Plan, and National Planning Policy Framework policies would apply. If the impacts of the change of use were harmful then one might expect that permission would be refused.
Other controls exist through local taxation and building regulations, which are not within the remit of the NDP.
Extensions and parking
“When extending a property/holiday let, not a garage, will additional parking need to be included in the submission?”
If planning permission were required (most extensions do not require permission) and an additional living unit is created then additional parking would be required. The NDP is not allowed to be specific about adding more parking if a dwelling expands to accommodate more people within the same household, but the issue would still be a consideration in the handling of a planning application, depending on the size and scale of the extension.
Settlement Development Boundaries
“It seems that single developments are to be refused but larger affordable housing developments are to be looked upon more favourably is this correct?
There are a number of fields near me, which are outside of the boundary of the village of Harrowbarrow, which have had multiple planning applications rejected. I am keen to ensure the village does not spill into these fields”
Within Settlement Development Boundaries (SDBs) small scale infill and the redevelopment of ‘brownfield land’ is permitted. Outside the Boundaries countryside policies apply which means that only new agricultural dwellings and ‘rural exception’ affordable dwellings may be permitted. These may be single or small multiple dwelling developments.
The Development Boundaries are intended to prevent urban sprawl and preserve the essential character of the villages and hamlets, whilst allowing for essential local needs to be met. Note that some small rural exception sites may be allowed outside the Boundaries if there is a local affordable housing need for them, subject to criteria in NDP and the Cornwall Local Plan on design, environmental impact and occupancy.
Current numbers of caravans and sheds being used as dwellings
“I am also concerned about the number of people living in caravans and sheds in fields around my area…I’m aware that more housing is needed…What is the council’s view on people living in fields and potentially applying for planning further down the line?”
Such units may have a mix of well-established planning permissions, permitted agricultural schemes, unauthorised caravans occupied by people intending to challenge planning rules, and genuine cases of homelessness (which appear to be increasing in recent times). The NDP housing policies will help meet the needs of the last. Unauthorised sites are likely to be contrary to the NDP policies, but they can be referred to Planning Enforcement. Planning applications ‘further down the line’ would be considered in line with the policies within the National Planning Policy Framework, Cornwall Local Plan and the NDP and it is likely that such sites would not gain planning permission.
Affordable housing and open market housing
“A percentage of market housing will be allowed as incentive to build the affordable. To make it viable. Please explain”.
The Cornwall Local Plan sets the rules on this. They recognise that a mixture of open market and affordable housing is sometimes the more financially viable option.
Within a Development Boundary the aim is that 30% or more of a site should be affordable housing, mostly in the form of social rented tenure.
Outside the Development Boundary the aim is that 50% or more of a site should be affordable homes. This arrangement means that landowners are more able to get a reasonable return on small areas of land that would otherwise not be allowed for development, so they are incentivised to release it. (In 2020 this was about £10,000 per plot, so a development of 7 houses on half an acre would generate £75,000 against the current average agricultural land value for poor pasture of £3,500 per half- acre.)
As a ‘rule of thumb’ about 33% to 45% of the value of a house is the cost of the land [this can vary considerably] and therefore a reduced land price means the cost of the homes created can be kept down, resulting in a more affordable dwelling.
It is useful for specific queries to be raised through the clerk’s office where they can be answered factually and published on the website and shared on social media sites for other people to read. The email address for this is email@example.com