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Council leader responds to planning concerns

HOT’s Zelly Restorick recently wrote about the planning procedure and the Hastings Development Management Plan – and how filing objections or comments seemed to be a very complicated process for the average person to tackle. As a number of HOT readers commented on the article, she decided to write to the Leader of the Council, Jeremy Birch, to offer him a chance to respond. 

“The process of adopting a local plan for an area is certainly not the most straightforward,” writes Cllr. Jeremy Birch, “but it is largely determined by government regulation. There are two distinct stages and two separate documents.

“The Planning Strategy sets out the broad parameters for physical development in the town over a 17 year period, including the number of new homes to be constructed. The Hastings Planning Strategy has been adopted having gone through its consultation and its public enquiry in front of a planning inspector. It has agreed that space needs to be allocated for a little over 200 new homes per year. As Hastings is encircled by areas of outstanding natural beauty and the sea the inspector accepted this figure rather than perhaps 400 per year which would match the town’s population growth trend estimates. So we might have set our target below the local needs and demands for homes.

“Unfortunately the inspector did not agree that we could count bringing empty homes back into use off our target – so all the 200 have to be new homes. Of course our policy is that 25-30% of those should be affordable homes – mainly socially rented.

Cllr Jeremy Birch

Cllr Jeremy Birch

“The more detailed planning document is the Development Management Plan (DMP) and this identifies the sites to accommodate those 200 new homes, so it is bound to be more controversial.

“There has been a significant amount of consultation in developing the DMP from the Big Map consultation February to April 2010, the informal consultation February to April 2012, the focused consultation July to August 2012 and the formal full 13-week consultation January to April 2013.

“Because government policy changes delayed the adoption of the Planning Strategy thereby putting back the DMP timetable the council thought it best to have one final round of formal consultation March to April 2014.

“The format, the questions and much of the language used in DMP formal consultations are determined by government regulation and they are not always the most user-friendly. However, many people have found their way through it all and made their comments throughout the consultation stages.

“Any comment submitted in last year’s formal consultation, as well as this year’s, will all be passed on to the planning inspector so there was no necessity to send in the same comment again. People can request the opportunity to explain their comments in person at the public enquiry, although the inspector chooses who finally does.

“The advice note that accompanies the DMP is pretty helpful in explaining how to respond.

“Essentially if residents wanted to challenge the identification of a particular site, as many already have in previous consultation rounds, they respond to the question about the ‘soundness’ of the plan. If they wanted a site deleted they obviously need to have a reason – unacceptable traffic generation, conservation concerns, protection of open space etc. Finally the inspector will take a view and issue a report, the council then agrees a final DMP next year but in the end the government has to approve it.

“The current process was supposed to be simpler than what went before – I’m not sure many people agree!”

Posted 08:31 Tuesday, Apr 29, 2014 In: Home Ground

1 Comment

Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT

  1. Kat Lee Ryan

    The form was appallingly complicated, and I ended up sending a direct email with my comments because there seemed to be nowhere where I could actually say what I wanted to say about the convent in particular .

    Comment by Kat Lee Ryan — Friday, May 2, 2014 @ 09:57

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