New Local Plan Options

Ended on the 30 October 2015
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(14) 1. Introduction

What is the new Local Plan?

1. The new Local Plan will set out planning policies for Harborough District. It will explain how much land we need for new homes and jobs and identify the locations for future development in Harborough District. It will also include a number of policies covering design of development, affordable housing, the historic environment, infrastructure and green infrastructure. These policies will be used to make decisions on planning applications in the District and will cover the period 2011 - 2031. The new Local Plan will review and replace existing Harborough Core Strategy policies (adopted November 2011).

Why are we preparing a new Local Plan?

2. In 2012 the Government published the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). The NPPF requires local planning authorities like Harborough District Council to support 'sustainable development' and to plan positively for it by preparing new local plans. Although the Core Strategy was only adopted in 2011, it is already considered to be out of date because it does not deliver enough housing to meet the District's future needs. So, it needs to be updated and will be replaced with the new Local Plan for Harborough. The Council made the decision to prepare a Local Plan, based on an updated Core Strategy, at its meeting on 3rd December 2012.

What happens if we don't prepare a new Local Plan?

3. If we do not prepare a new Local Plan we will not be planning positively for the future of our District and finding the most sustainable way of accommodating development. This means that we could lose control over how the District develops and grows in the future. Developers could propose development in locations that may not be the most appropriate and, without the right policies in place, the Council may find it difficult to refuse them or may find that developers could successfully appeal against Council decisions.

What is the relationship between the new Local Plan and Neighbourhood Plans?

4. Harborough District currently has two 'made' Neighbourhood Plans, at Broughton Astley and Billesdon, with a third, Scraptoft, currently being examined. Please see the full list of progress with Neighbourhood Plans within Harborough District at Appendix A.

5. Under neighbourhood planning legislation, neighbourhood plans have to be in conformity with the adopted Core Strategy, and do not have to take account of emerging policy. The new Local Plan will supersede the Core Strategy and, as such, it is likely that the existing neighbourhood plans may have to be reviewed to ensure compliance with strategic policies. This may include increasing housing growth above that planned for in the neighbourhood plan; however some neighbourhood plans have included 'reserve housing sites' in order to accommodate any additional growth and are therefore likely to be in a more resilient position.

What has been done so far?

6. In March and April 2013 we consulted on the initial scope of the new Local Plan for Harborough. The results of this consultation were taken into account in agreeing the final scope of the plan and are presented in two reports; 'New Local Plan scoping consultation responses' and 'New Local Plan scoping consultation - officer recommendations'.

7. We have commissioned consultants to undertake a Sustainability Appraisal incorporating Strategic Environmental Assessment (SA/SEA) of the plan. This assesses the social, economic and environmental effects of the Plan (and any reasonable alternative options) on Harborough District. Details of the SA work undertaken to date are on the Council's website. An options stage SA report is published alongside this consultation and will be used to help identify the most sustainable option to take forward into the draft plan. Your comments on the Options Sustainability Appraisal Report are invited.

8. We have prepared a number of evidence documents which can be viewed on the 'Background reports' page of the Council's website.

9. These provide evidence on future needs (for example for jobs and homes) and provide detailed information on different kinds of constraints (for example flooding, landscaping or transport). This evidence needs to be taken into account when considering which areas are most suitable for development and helps to identify those which are less suitable to accommodate development.

What is the Options Consultation stage?

10. This Options Consultation Paper begins with a brief description of Harborough District, followed by a draft Vision and Objectives, which set out in broad terms how Harborough will change during the period to 2031. Section 4 describes the various settlements in the District and identifies those settlements which are considered most sustainable. Sections 5 to 11 explain the proposed approach to each of the main topics to be covered by the new Local Plan, together with any alternative options being consulted upon. Section 5 sets out 9 alternative growth options and explains how new homes and jobs would be distributed under each option. Section 13 focuses on separate settlements, or groups of settlements. It explains the implications of the 9 growth options for individual settlements or groups of settlements. We welcome your views on the alternative options which will be used to help prepare the new Local Plan. A glossary explaining the planning terms used in this document can be found in Appendix L. Text boxes throughout this paper provide links to background documents used to inform the proposed options for that topic.

11. The consultation focuses on meeting the District's future needs, particularly for homes and jobs. It has been informed by discussions and engagement with partner organisations, including other local authorities within the Leicester and Leicestershire Housing Market Area, neighbouring authorities in Northamptonshire and Warwickshire and prescribed bodies like Highways England. Each Section covers a different topic but there is considerable cross-over and important links between the Sections. The document should be read as a whole.

12. Alternative options are not set out for every topic. National planning policy provides a very clear steer for some topics which limits the need to set out alternative approaches. Alternative options take into account the requirements of national planning policy and guidance from documents and resources such as the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) 2012, National Planning Policy Guidance (NPPG), the Localism Act 2011 and the evidence collected so far.

What are the next steps?

13. We will assess the alternative options in light of the consultation responses, national policy and guidance, results of the Sustainability Appraisal and local evidence to identify the most appropriate approach for each topic.

14. We will then produce the pre-submission draft new Local Plan for Harborough for consultation. It will include draft policies and proposed site allocations. Following pre-submission consultation, the Plan will then be submitted to the Secretary of State for Examination. An Inspector will examine the Plan, taking into account all background reports, evidence and consultation responses. The Inspector will conduct Hearing sessions, where respondents and the Council will be invited to explain their positions in more detail. Finally, the Inspector will prepare a report, including recommendations to either adopt the Plan, to amend and adopt the Plan or to return to an earlier stage in the Plan's preparation. The key stages in preparing the new Local Plan for Harborough are set out in Figure 1 below.

Stage Date

Options consultation

September to October 2015

Assessment of alternative Options

November 2015 to March 2016

Pre-submission consultation

June to July 2016

Submission to Secretary of State

September 2016


November 2016


March 2017

Figure 1: Future stages in preparing the new Local Plan for Harborough

Planning Context

15. The new Local Plan for Harborough must be consistent with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). This sets out the Government's planning policies for England and explains how they are expected to be applied. Most importantly it sets out the presumption in favour of sustainable development. This includes planning positively to meet future development needs. Local plans should meet objectively assessed needs, unless doing so would outweigh the benefits or would be inconsistent with particular policies within the NPPF. Sections 5 and 9 of this Options Consultation Paper set out Harborough's objectively assessed needs for housing and employment and explain the alternative options for meeting these needs.

How do I get involved and make my comments?

16. The Options Consultation runs for 6 weeks from 18th September to 30th October 2015. You may view the Options Consultation Paper and submit your comments on the Council's website. If you experience problems using the website, please contact the Strategic Planning team for help (Tel: 01858 821160 or email:

How can I find out more?

17. All of the background papers and evidence documents are published on the 'Background reports' page of the Council's website. Or go to the Council's website at:

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