As parishioners are aware, we have been working for some time on the development of a Neighbourhood Plan for Bentworth Parish. We have held three public meetings, had two questionnaires and have a good idea of what parishioners would like to be included in such a plan on the basis of an allocation of “about twelve dwellings” in Bentworth. In our message posted in the April issue of “The Villager” we advised everyone, however, that the goalposts for neighbourhood planning had been moved by the Government. Changes to housing policy at national level meant that there was now a legal requirement for all Local Plans and Neighbourhood Plans to be reviewed every five years. East Hampshire District Council’s (EHDC) current Local Plan (which contains the allocation of “about twelve dwellings” for Bentworth) would become out of date in May 2019 and EHDC were launching a review to create a new Local Plan, which would be adopted in 2020 and would run from 2017-2036. As part of this review process, EHDC also embarked on a new call for sites for development. In the light of these developments our Neighbourhood Plan Steering Committee decided to continue to work up the narrative of our plan and also the Vision, Objectives and Policies, but to put on hold any decision on sites.
What Has Happened in East Hampshire?
As you may have seen from a recent announcement put out by EHDC and circulated by John Stockdale, the first draft of the new EHDC Local Plan (see below) has now been published. Overall, EHDC is required to build 11,556 homes by 2036. Of these 6,500 have already been built since the plan began in 2017, 1,100 will be built in the South Downs National Park, 1,000 will be provided through small-scale developments, leaving a minimum of about 3,500 to be constructed in the area of East Hampshire outside the South Downs National Park. EHDC are aiming to meet this additional housing need predominantly through additional growth at Whitehill & Bordon, a new settlement at Northbrook Park (near Bentley) and in the northern part of the district along the A31 corridor.
What does the new Plan mean for Benworth?
The new draft Local Plan, which can be accessed by clicking on the link in the EHDC Notice below, says that the minimum number of dwellings required for Bentworth is six (all of which already have planning permission). EHDC propose (see page 132 of the draft) to make no new allocations to the parish and indeed propose not to take forward the allocation of the site on the corner of Church Street and Ashley Road (which we have known as site BTW001). We and other parishes with emerging Neighbourhood Plans are, however, encouraged (see page 41) to produce site allocations that go beyond the minimum requirement. In response to our questions as to why the previous minimum of “about twelve dwellings” has been dropped, EHDC have told us that “the previous Local Plan had a mininmum number of dwellings in ‘villages north of the SDNP’, whereas now this is not the case. Allocations are proposed in more ‘sustainable’ settlements, and any additional housing provision will be left to Neighbourhood Plans, which is the case for Bentworth.”
What Happens Next?
It is important to stress that the revised Local Plan is a draft only and is thus still subject to change. The draft will be open for formal consultation for a period of six weeks from 5th February to 19th March 2019. EHDC will not be meeting individually with us or other Neighbourhood Planning groups before then, but will be holding a meeting on 14th January, at which they will advise on how to respond to the draft Local Plan. Any parishioner who would like to feed in views is welcome to do so at any time by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org We will keep you posted as we learn more.
May I take this opportunity of thanking parishioners for their support and patience and wishing everyone a very happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year. We might even get the Neighbourhood Plan completed in 2019!
Co-ordinator, Bentworth Parish Neighbourhood Plan Steering Committee
Local Plan will reflect Government drive for more homes
East Hampshire District Council is preparing to consult on a plan that will seek to create vibrant communities with the right blend of jobs, infrastructure and environmental protection.
The council’s new Local Plan will map out the future development of the area outside of the South Downs National Park.
The plan will set out what development can go where and find sites for the minimum number of homes the Government expects East Hampshire to provide.
Cllr Angela Glass, Portfolio Holder for Planning, said: “The Local Plan must not only meet the Government’s priority for homes and growth but also enhance the area’s character, environment and heritage.
“Our job, with the help of the people who will take part in our consultation, is to make sure the homes are allocated in the best possible locations to create strong communities with all the supporting infrastructure and amenity modern living demands.
“With an up-to-date Local Plan we can better protect our communities from piece-meal development and ensure they grow in a sustainable, controlled way.
“We must also provide open spaces and cultural facilities and protect the district’s landscapes, wildlife and historic assets.
“This is a difficult balancing act and will require some compromises to be made.
“If you are interested in the future of your area then look out for our consultation in February and make sure you get involved.”
An accepted method has been used to calculate the minimum number of homes the district must provide, and an agreement has been made with the South Downs National Park on how many are to be provided within the park.
The plan will cover parts of the A31 corridor around Alton, the areas around Whitehill & Bordon and the southern parishes.
The minimum number of homes required in the entire East Hampshire district from 2017 to 2036 is 11,556, or around 608 homes a year.
Of these, the South Downs National Park will provide around 1,100, while about 6,500 have either been built since the plan began in 2017 or have already been granted planning permission. It is expected that small-scale developments, delivered during the life of the plan, will provide another 1,000 homes.
As a result, this leaves a minimum of about 3,500 more homes to be allocated in the parts of the district covered by the Local Plan up until 2036.
These homes should be of the right types and varieties to meet shortages in the area, such as smaller homes, homes for older people and sites for gypsies and travellers.
New laws say councils are legally obliged to review their Local Plan every five years. The current Local Plan, drawn up in co-operation with the South Downs National Park was adopted in 2014. Since that time some national policies have changed and the new plan must change to meet them.
The Local Plan will be scrutinised by councillors for the first time at EHDC’s Development Policy and Affordable Housing Panel on Monday 17 December before it goes to Cabinet and Full Council in the New Year.
Public consultation on the Local Plan is set to run from 5 February – 19 March. Event dates will be on our webpage: www.easthants.gov.uk/localplan
[Please note that this message is not posted on behalf of Bentworth Parish Council and does not necessarily reflect the Parish Council’s policy]