Harborough Local Plan 2011-2031, Proposed Submission

Search Representations

Results for BITTESWELL with BITTESBY Parish Council search

New search New search

Object

Harborough Local Plan 2011-2031, Proposed Submission

How to comment on this Document

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 Summary:

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

5.1.1 to 5.1.3 Explanation

Representation ID: 6618

Received: 26/10/2017

Respondent: BITTESWELL with BITTESBY Parish Council

Legally compliant? Not specified

Sound? Not specified

Duty to co-operate? Not specified

Representation Summary:

The HEDNA is not capable of being considered an objective assessment, as it is prepared by GL Hearn who also work with the house building industry.
Housing need appears to have increased from 350dpa (2011-2031) in 2011 to 557dpa in 2017, an uplift of 60%, without explanation. Either the figure in 2011 was wildly understated or the present figure is grossly overstated.

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

5.1.4 to 5.1.7 Explanation

Representation ID: 6619

Received: 26/10/2017

Respondent: BITTESWELL with BITTESBY Parish Council

Legally compliant? Not specified

Sound? Not specified

Duty to co-operate? Not specified

Representation Summary:

Increase in housing due to Magna Park Expansion, of an additional 25dpa, appears to explicitly disregard the advice of GL Hearn in relation to Table 89 (used for arriving at the OAN of 532dpa for Harborough) - " 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."

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

H2 clause 1

Representation ID: 6620

Received: 26/10/2017

Respondent: BITTESWELL with BITTESBY Parish Council

Legally compliant? Not specified

Sound? Not specified

Duty to co-operate? Not specified

Representation Summary:

The delivery of affordable housing in the district has consistently fallen short of the annual target, of the total number of dwellings built in the last 5 years only some 16% were affordable. The present passive strategy of securing affordable dwellings solely by means of the spin-off from market housing developments has proved ineffective. Additional mechanisms for delivery are needed.

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.

If you are having trouble using the system, please try our help guide.