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Object

Harborough Local Plan 2011-2031, Proposed Submission

Representation ID: 5526

Received: 30/10/2017

Respondent: MISTERTON WITH WALCOTE Parish Council

Legally compliant? No

Sound? No

Duty to co-operate? No

Representation:

Misterton with Walcote Parish Council is concerned that the consultation process has not been used to inform a number of policies proposed in the Harborough Local plan. This does not encourage participation, as the public has had no opportunity to express its views concerning these policies and indeed it seems that some new policies are entirely at odds with the opinions expressed in the earlier consultation.

Full text:

Walcote Parish Council wishes to make the following representations concerning the Harborough Local Plan.
Misterton with Walcote Parish Council is concerned that the consultation process has not been used to inform a number of policies proposed in the Harborough Local plan. This does not encourage participation, as the public has had no opportunity to express its views concerning these policies and indeed it seems that some new policies are entirely at odds with the opinions expressed in the earlier consultation.

Object

Harborough Local Plan 2011-2031, Proposed Submission

Representation ID: 6130

Received: 01/11/2017

Respondent: MR Michael Wilcox

Legally compliant? No

Sound? No

Duty to co-operate? No

Representation:

The location of the policies map is not clear and I cannot find them within the supporting documentation

Full text:

The location of the policies map is not clear and I cannot find them within the supporting documentation

Object

Harborough Local Plan 2011-2031, Proposed Submission

Representation ID: 6239

Received: 02/11/2017

Respondent: Mrs Maggie Pankhurst

Legally compliant? No

Sound? No

Duty to co-operate? No

Representation:

Consultation process was:

undemocratic
difficult to participate in

Full text:

I would like to express my concern about the process of consultation in relation to The HDC draft Local Plan 2011-2031. It has felt that the process has been undemocratic and extremely difficult to participate in.
1. The consultation process timetable is the absolute minimum required by law, 6 weeks. This means that most Parish Councils and Town Councils will only meet once during the consultation process. This is not adequate to allow full discussion and preparation of a response to the draft Local Plan.
2. The Local Plan Is over 300 pages long and has supporting documentation as follows:
* Sustainability Appraisal Report 671 pages,
* 3 sustainability appraisal summaries of the full SA report totalling 288 pages
* Habitat Regulations Assessment 18 pages
* Equalities Impact Assessment 9 pages
* Duty to Cooperate Statement 49 pages
* Interim Consultation Statement 168 pages
How can this be read, understood, discussed, commented on and a submission prepared in 6 weeks? Parish and Town Councillors are local volunteers with jobs, families and a life outside their public duties.

3. The timetable for the consultation period was only confirmed in the month that the process started. This left little time for PCs and other groups to prepare information sessions for local residents etc. No display/exhibition material was provided for PC use at village meetings.
4. In the last three days before the consultation process closes there is discussion about extending the consultation period. It is difficult to know what this will now achieve, as HDC are unlikely to communicate the extension to those who might participate.
5. HDC have relied on social media and the local press to advertise the Local Plan and the consultation process. Most residents in the west of the district do not buy the Harborough Mail as it rarely has information about Lutterworth etc. in it. I cannot say how many people follow HDC on Twitter and Facebook!!
6. HDC did not advertise the public consultation session in Lutterworth other than through the HDC website (and social media?). Lutterworth TC and local volunteer group, Magna Park is Big Enough, undertook the advertising of this event.
7. The area most affected by the Local Plan is Lutterworth - housing and Magna Park. The public session was timed at less than two weeks to the end of the consultation period. It was also half term. (We know efforts were made to change the date but only after pressure after the consultation period had started)
8. In order to take part in the process you basically have to have a computer and be computer literate.
Although paper forms are available officers were very reluctant to send out paper copies - some officers were deliberately difficult and one person was told that HDC did not expect the general public to be responding during the consultation process.
9. If people have managed to get a paper copy (or an e mail copy) they then have to fill in one per paragraph that they wish to comment on.
10. In the middle of the last week of the consultation period HDC agreed that paper copies could be more widely provided. However, to my knowledge, there has been no public communication of that information.
11. The on-line process is not easy for anyone and particularly the layperson that does not have a detailed knowledge of the Local Plan i.e. where does it talk about the things that they want to comment on. The fact that you have to comment on each separate relevant paragraph makes filling in the form like undertaking a marathon. Even people who are used to working on complex documents complained that the process was basically one that discouraged rather than encouraged participation.
12. I think most people would agree that it is only through the efforts of Magna Park is Big Enough (local action group) that local residents even know of the existence of the Local Plan and have been encouraged to respond to the proposals contained in it.

There are serious questions to be asked about this process and I hope that this will happen during the inspection process.

Object

Harborough Local Plan 2011-2031, Proposed Submission

Representation ID: 6599

Received: 11/11/2017

Respondent: Mr Niles Holroyde

Legally compliant? Not specified

Sound? Not specified

Duty to co-operate? Not specified

Representation:

I believe that insufficient publicity has been given to the allocation of a strategic development site on Scraptoft Golf Course. At the very least I would have expected the opportunity to view and discuss these plans at an exhibition or public meeting held in the village.

Full text:

I believe that insufficient publicity has been given to the allocation of a strategic development site on Scraptoft Golf Course. At the very least I would have expected the opportunity to view and discuss these plans at an exhibition or public meeting held in the village.

Scraptoft has been a building site for more than 15 years now, with over 700 houses built in the last 7 years. This has been very disruptive and local infrastructure has been stretched to breaking point.

A development of this size will inevitably harm local amenities and produce major traffic problems. The Nature Reserve must be protected as much for its historic importance as its wildlife value and the landscape value of the existing Golf Course must be protected.

I have no confidence that the social and transport infrastructure needed to support 1200 new homes will be provided. It will inevitably throw more strain on existing health and education and bring even more traffic through the village. It is also unclear how traffic from the site with find its way southwards towards Oadby, Fosse Park and M1. Given that plans have recently been published for an eastern by pass these plans are premature until there is more clarity about the provision of this new major road.

Object

Harborough Local Plan 2011-2031, Proposed Submission

Representation ID: 6617

Received: 26/10/2017

Respondent: BITTESWELL with BITTESBY Parish Council

Legally compliant? Not specified

Sound? Not specified

Duty to co-operate? Not specified

Representation:

General concerns raised are summarised as;
- Policy descriptions are less precise and open to many interpretations, compared to earlier Development Plans
- 'District' should be inserted into the document title, to reflect the geographical area covered
- Specified method of consultation, via the online consultation portal, is a barrier to community involvement, and contrary to regulations
- choice of the minimum 6 week period for consultation, stifles the process
- the replacement of the Core Strategy and Saved Policies of the 2001 Local Plan, by the Proposed Submission Local Plan is explicitly inconsistent with the NPPF, and unsound.

Full text:

HARBOROUGH LOCAL PLAN 2011-2031
PROPOSED SUBMISSION CONSOLIDATED COMMENTS

General Comment

The document is generally well written and constructed but, unfortunately, the precision of policies in earlier development plans has been displaced by policies with discursive descriptions which are open to many interpretations. A case in point is the exchange of the precision of Policy HS8-Limits to Development for three interrelated and imprecise policies GD2, GD3 and GD4.

1.0 Title

As the Local Plan, when adopted, will apply to the entire district of Harborough, it is suggested that the title should be:

'Harborough District Local Plan 2011-2031.'

2.0 Provision of Copies of the Local Plan

The adopted Statement of Community Involvement (SCI), published in March 2015, states at paragraph 1.3:

'The purpose of this Statement of Community Involvement is to explain how the Council will actively seek to engage all sectors of the community and encourage widespread and continual involvement with its plan making and development management processes.'

Having in mind this declared objective of 'widespread and continual involvement', we would appreciate an explanation how our Parish, which has five Councillors one Clerk, and some 390 residents are meant to share the single document of the Local Plan we have in our possession.

3.0 Specified Methods of Consultation

At page 2 of the Local Plan document the District Council seeks to prescribe the specific methods by which representations may be made. It states:

'All representations must be submitted via the online consultation portal or the representation form.'

The reason advanced for this restriction is that other forms of response would need to be inputted to the Consultation Portal. Many in the community are likely to conclude that this difficulty is of the District Council's own making.

However, not only is this wholly unreasonable constraint hostile to the central aim of engaging the community in the plan making activity, it appears to be contrary to the relevant regulations which state:

'representations may be made in writing or by way of electronic communications.' and:

'In preparing local plans Local Planning Authorities must take into account any representations made to them.'

We are, of course, aware of the District Council's much-vaunted 'Strategic Planning Consultation Portal', and the endeavours of the Council to constrain consultees to employ this facility when making comments. While this may be convenient for officers of the Council, this is not necessarily the case for the great majority of the residents of the District. It is only of value if residents possess the necessary equipment, prowess and inclination to interrogate a computer display in the hope of discovering a particular element of interest in a large and complex document. Many will simply regard the 'Strategic Planning Consultation Portal' as yet another barrier to meaningful involvement. On the face of it, Members have allowed themselves to become brainwashed by over-zealous officers without questioning the practicalities of the Consultation Portal, and whether it fulfils the objectives of community engagement. Like many other internet-based systems the Consultation Portal notionally hits the target but, regrettably, misses the point.

4.0 Time Allowed for Consultation

For several reasons the time taken to prepare the Local Plan has greatly exceeded the timetable set out in the original Local Development Scheme (LDS). Even since the programme published in August 2016, the projected date for completion has receded by some 12 months. Although it is rarely constructive to compound delays in the execution of a programme, when set in the perspective of the preparation of the Local Plan, an exercise that has been characterized by almost chronic delay, it is difficult to accept that in the determination of the period allowed for consultation, the District Council has chosen the minimum value set out in the relevant regulation.

It is likely that the combination of the strict limitation of copies and the minimum time allowed for the consultation process, will convince the residents of the Harborough District that, despite the high-flown aspirational text of the Statement of Community Involvement, in practise, the primary objective of the District Council is to stifle consultation.

5.0 Lack of Consistency with the NPPF and the Question of Soundness

As you will be aware, the NPPF prescribes the content of a Local Plan as follows:

'Local Plan: The plan for the future development of the local area, drawn up by the local planning authority in consultation with the community. In law this is described as the development plan document adopted under the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004. Current core strategies or other planning policies which under the regulation would be considered to be development plan documents, form part of the Local Plan. The term includes old policies which have been saved under the 2004 Act.'

That the Core Strategy, adopted in 2011, and all the policies saved from the former Local Plan form part of the Local Plan is acknowledged by Harborough District Council. This is evidenced in the letter, dated 18 November 2013, sent to this Council from Mrs Verina Wenham, Head of Legal and Democratic Services. A copy of this communication was sent to you with our letter of 10 July 2017.

At Part A of the Local Plan, paragraph 1.1.3 it states:

'The Local Plan entirely replaces:

* Harborough District Local Development Plan Core Strategy 2006-2028 (adopted in 2011); and
* Harborough District Plan 2001 (Retained Policies)

The statement from Part A, quoted above, is explicitly inconsistent with the content of the Local Plan, as prescribed in the NPPF, as it is clear that the documents claimed to be 'replaced', actually form part of the Local Plan. As the proposed Local Plan is manifestly inconsistent with the NPPF, it cannot be claimed to be 'sound'. Doubtless the Inspector appointed to examine the Local Plan will wish to explore this issue.

6.0 Housing

In recognition of the national importance of housing the NPPF cites at paragraph 47:

'..local planning authorities should use their evidence base to ensure that their Local Plan meets the full objectively assessed needs for market and affordable housing in the housing market area...'

For the avoidance of misunderstanding, 'objectively' may be defined as: 'without bias'

The primary source of data used as basis for the housing numbers in the Local Plan is the Housing and Economic Development Needs Assessment prepared by G L Hearn, dated January 2017. This is but one of the many assessments produced by Hearn over the years. An earlier Assessment was used as the basis of the housing requirements used in the Core Strategy, adopted in 2011.

G L Hearn is a prominent consultancy owned by Capita. It claims it has a 'client base that includes landowners, developers, investors, Regional Development Agencies and local authorities.'

The Planning Director of G L Hearn, appointed in November 2016 has a role which includes:

'working with national and regional housebuilders, along with promoters-whilst building on GL Hearn's mixed-use capability...'

As the Hearn organization appears to be enmeshed with the housebuilding industry the question of the potential for conflicts of interest must arise. Only individuals with little or no understanding of the realities of commercial business would be sanguine about G L Hearn being capable of providing housing assessments that are prepared 'objectively'. In reality, Chinese Walls do not exist in business. On several occasions we have raised the issue of the impartiality of Hearn, and advocated the use of an entity whose independence is beyond doubt, such as a university. Each time we have broached the matter the District Council has sought to dismiss any concerns. To compound these worries is the relationship between G L Hearn and the commissioning local authorities as this appears to be unduly cosy. For example, the arrangements for the selection of G L Hearn for the performance of this contract have been questioned as they seemed to be somewhat irregular: one issue was the absence of a list of qualified bidders. .
These two matters, which are clearly inimical to the requirement that the need for housing is 'objectively assessed', deserve the attention of Members of the Council.
Should there be uncertainty about this issue Members should, perhaps give consideration to the following:

In 2011 the residents of the Harborough District were assured that the number of dwellings needed between 2011 and 2031 was 350dpa. A total of 7000 in the Plan Period. This number remains in the present adopted Development Plan for the Harborough District.

Residents, in the absence of any convincing explanation, are now being asked to believe that this number has increased to 557dpa, an uplift of almost 60%. A total of 11140 in the Plan Period.

Either the figure in the 2011 assessment was wildly understated or the present assessment value is grossly overstated. Members need to address this matter and arrive at a rational view. Ultimately, there may no alternative to seeking determination of the assessment from an organization whose impartiality is beyond reproach. Until this is done the integrity of the Local Plan and, indeed of the District Council, must remain in doubt.

6.1 Page 53: paragraph 5.1.4 Increase of Housing due to Magna Park Expansion

This paragraph asserts that to house the new workers required to resource the expansion at Magna Park more dwellings will be required, and this is quantified at an additional 25 dwellings per annum. This brings the total to 557dpa.

We are aware that officers of the Council appear to have an apparent penchant to increase house numbers given the slightest excuse for doing so, but in this case they appear to be explicitly disregarding the advice of G L Hearn.

In relation to Table 89, the one used for arriving at the 'Objectively Assessed Need' of 532dpa, the GL Hearn Report states:

' The conclusions recognise that there is no need to adjust upwards the assessed need to support economic growth when the demographic and economic-led projections are compared with one another at the HMA level, and that economic growth in individual authorities could therefore be supported by agreeing an alternative distribution of housing provision through the Duty to Cooperate.'


6.2 Affordable Dwellings

As you will be aware there is widespread interest in the topic of Affordable Dwellings, an interest that has been tragically heightened by the recent disaster at Grenfell Tower.

The annual need for affordable houses is defined in the Local Plan as 206 dpa.

The record shows that the delivery of affordable dwellings in the Harborough District has consistently fallen short of the annual target. During the last 5 years the maximum number of affordable dwellings delivered in any one year has been 85.

The Core Strategy required that 40% of the total dwellings in the highest sub-market areas, and 30% in the balance of the sub-market areas, should be affordable. Likewise, the Local Plan prescribes that 40% of all dwellings on sites of more than 10 dwellings should be affordable.

Unfortunately, the strategy of securing affordable dwellings solely by means of the spin-off from market housing developments has proved to be ineffective. The record in the last 5 years shows that, of the total number of dwellings completed, only some 16% were classed as affordable.

There is a patent need for the District Council to abandon its present passive strategy and establish a significantly more proactive and effective strategy for delivering affordable dwellings. Incidentally, the Hearn Report demonstrates that, in the light of experience, the strategy- to which the District Council has been wedded for many years- is neither effective nor sustainable.)

the G L Hearn Report of January 2017 also notes at paragraph 7.31:

'Firstly, it should be noted that there are additional mechanisms for delivery of affordable housing beyond provision through planning obligations on mixed-tenure development schemes.' These include:

Building Council Homes- following reform of the HRA funding system, Councils can bring forward affordable housing themselves.

Object

Harborough Local Plan 2011-2031, Proposed Submission

Representation ID: 6633

Received: 31/10/2017

Respondent: Cllr Rosita Page

Legally compliant? No

Sound? No

Duty to co-operate? No

Representation:

Access to consultation form made difficult, which disadvantaged ordinary residents.
Public advertising in local media very limited.
Access to information and evidence documents for members & public to make educated decisions was limited. Not clear what's valid, what's superseded, confusing and not all in 1 place.
Mistakes and discrepancies in supporting information, some was not taken into consideration.
Evidence has not been readily available throughout the process and parishes and other stakeholder have not been given the timeframe to consider background information.

Full text:

I consider the plan not sound and not compliant because;
Access to consultation form was made difficult, it disadvantaged ordinary residents to put forward a view.
Public advertising of the consultation in the local media was very limited.
Access to information for members to make educated decisions was limited , a lot of information was presented via verbal briefings only , some information was deemed as confidential and not provided.
Visions and objectives are good but empty rhetoric, not backed up with strong enough policies to achieve these goals.
The plan appears to focus mainly on the provision of housing rather than placing an additional focus on providing variety and access on suitable housing that will meet the needs and the diversity of residents.
The Harborough District has an above national average of an aging population and a larger focus should have reflected the needs of these residents by ensuring policies advocate more bungalows.
Provision of Extra Care and Specialist Accommodation is not deliverable .Targets are too high and policies remits are confusing.
There are mistakes and discrepancies in supporting information.
Some supporting information was not taken into consideration.
There is no guidance where to find relevant information and what has been superseded by what. The process is messy and confusing.
The Sensitivity Study was commissioned to confirm housing needs alongside employment /logistic options .These were supposed to be allocated across the HMA not just Harborough District.
The Sensitivity Study is not of merit to determine the amount of logistic provision therefore rendering policy BE2 not sound

Comments relating to the following (sections / policies) :

1.2 The Option Consultation: secured an overwhelming public response .The public objected to a major expansion of Magna Park .The Sustainability Appraisal Interim Report 2015 and 2016 rejected an Option of 700 000sqm which echoed demand not need for 3 planning permissions submitted .Officers stated the conclusion of the SAIR would not be affected in the future and Planning officers concurred by stating that approving all 3 application submitted would not be sustainable.
However without evidencing any proper process this evidence was overruled.

1.5 The Duty to Co‐operate: was not fully adhered to by consulting all neighbouring LA's in any of the early stages .There are only notes of DtoC meetings from
May and July 2017. These minutes state foregone conclusions without having followed proper democratic process.

1.7 Supplementary Planning Documents: As well as other evidence has not been readily available throughout the process and parishes and other stakeholder have not been given the timeframe to consider background information. It is not clear what is valid, some reports are superseded, reports are not all in one place and the evidence base is confusing.

2.1 Local Plan Vision and 2.3 Objectives: The vision and objectives are lordable but the policies with in the LP do not reflect the desired aims to achieve these objectives.
To secure a wide range of skilled jobs for an highly educated population has always been a supported council policy.
The objective, stopping young people from leaving the district is not served by focusing mainly on providing unskilled, temporary, low paid jobs in the logistic industry.
A focus on sustainable , diverse and vibrant job market is not possible without creating the opportunities.
Reducing impact of traffic on local communities in Objective 10 is not a deliverable policy in line with the proposal of policy BE2 either and Objective 7 to protect the historic environment is also compromised by policy BE2 . The protection of heritage is highly supported by the NPPF and featured in the draft Growth Plan but the policy is not strong enough . The objectives and policies are contradicting themselves in places .

3.1.2 to 3.14
Recognises a fair geographical spread , long term strategic growth by providing a diverse , fair , economic strategy across the region and Leicestershire placing resources where there is need and higher unemployment Policy BE2 in this LP adds considerable more than the identified long term requirement of non -rail storage /logistic to a already considerable land bank of logistics permissions granted but not build out.
Furthermore BE2 is disadvantaging other operators in other geographical areas by oversaturating the market.

5.1.4: The HEDNA was to identify housing and employment need. However all this important detail of employment /logistic provision and the correlation thereof was omitted until very late in the process .The Sensitivity Study was an add on, not fully commissioned and was not made available until July.
The study has not been objectively assessed , scrutinised , it is confusing , contains flaws and is based on assumption not on evidenced facts.
The scenarios used to underpin the need for 700 000sqm of logistics floor space are disregarding all previous, confirmed evidence , consultation result and a democratic members decision.
The study that alleges 19 % of HD residents work at Magna Park. If to be considered as factual, one needs to be mindful that this has taken over 20 years to achieve.
To raise this to 25 % ( 3000 workers approximately ) in an area of low unemployment (at it's highest 1100) without effective policies and no means of enforcement this seems unachievable.

5.1.9: A buffer of 20% was applied by a proper democratic process to assist other LA's with unmet housing needs in March 17 .This need has not yet been evidenced and was agreed on the provision of 2 letters received ( 5.1.6 )
Not adhering to a proper democratic process the 20% buffer provision was split into 15 % unmet need and 5 % ( 5.1.9 ) to meet the impact of policy BE 2.
The March decision was ignored and these figures were already placed in all the draft Local Plan documents before being agreed by the Executive in September 17.
How can the Local Plan with no provisions and policies to enforce, underpin or secure the ambitious commitment to house Magna Park workers in the district ?

BE1: The Full Council has always voted to encourage and promote knowledge based industries to the district but policies or actions do not actively reflect this ambition.

BE2: Comments from members and residents ignored, evidence flawed, contradiction to previous evidence applied, proper process not followed in order to accommodate a policy that advocates unnecessary ,over allocation of storage, logistic provision to consider with applications submitted which will be decided at a planning meeting before this plan is evaluated.
The applicants stating their proposals are promoted via the LP and that the policy of the emerging plan supports their application.
This policy is ambiguous, will saturate and monopolise the non‐ rail storage and logistic market to the disadvantage of neighbouring authorities. This policy supports greed and does not identify need.

H1: Sets out housing commitment to 2031. The infrastructure document are difficult to access. It should be explained that dwelling should not just be taken as houses but could be apartments /flats. The policy should reflect a need for this provision to aid the accumulation of much required social housing.
It refers in 5.1.8 to 557 per annum or 11140 over the plan period .There is no correlation of the figures.
H1 ( SS1 2a ) states a minimum of 12800 but should state a maximum.
All of this is very confusing and it will be difficult to implement and to achieving a clear basis on which a 5 year housing supply is calculated which is clear and defendable.
Previous housing trajectory identified that no 5 year housing supply has been achieved previously in the Harborough District with a far lower annual housing requirement. It is therefore ambitious and unrealistic to add a 20 % buffer on ONA as this is unlikely to be achieved possibly rendering the Local Plan impotent.

H2: 40 % is not viable or sustainable and will not aid the provision of affordable housing when only up to now only 19 % was achieved and at present only 4000 units are outstanding to be build.

H4: More emphasis needed to ensure specialist housing is provided , policy impossible to achieve and confusing. Is the 10% on top of 40% affordable ?

H6: Provision at Bonham's Lane is not required and the special status of the site should be recognised.GTAA was not an open and public consultation
There would be no requirement for additional Showpeople plots if officers would stop supporting present sites for housing development against planning inspectors advise thus losing the district the existing provisions.
Travelling Showpeople plots have been allocated to non‐ guild members , there have been statements to the fact that there are no further requirements.
5.11.2 refers to the amount of pitches for G/T and showpeople .However, Parish Council 's have unsuccessfully requested up‐dates on occupation of the sites. It is therefore assumed that the illustrated figures are questionable as there have been no detailed evaluations.

Object

Harborough Local Plan 2011-2031, Proposed Submission

Representation ID: 7468

Received: 06/11/2017

Respondent: Mr Michael Lenihan

Legally compliant? Not specified

Sound? Not specified

Duty to co-operate? Not specified

Representation:

The methods adopted by Harborough District Council for it's public consultation is extremely poor.
- The website is difficult to navigate and very confusing.
- A document as vital and important to every resident in the District should offer as many ways as possible to respond to it.
- It would seem to have been developed to discourage people from making any comment.

- It is possible that the use of electronic communication is easier and less time consuming for the officers, but everyone is the District has the right to have their say, not just the tech savvy.

Full text:

- The methods adopted by Harborough District Council for it's public consultation is extremely poor.
- The website is difficult to navigate and very confusing.
- A document as vital and important to every resident in the District should offer as many ways as possible to respond to it.
- It would seem to have been developed to discourage people from making any comment.
- There can be no excuse for the difficulties everyone I have spoken to on the subject have experienced. Many just gave up as it was too hard!!
- It is possible that the use of electronic communication is easier and less time consuming for the officers, but everyone is the District has the right to have their say, not just the tech savvy.