What is the Local Plan?
The Local Plan is a set of policies and land allocations that will guide the future of the district up to 2031. The timetable for the preparation of the Local Plan is set out in the Local Development Scheme.
Submission of the Local Plan
The South Cambridgeshire Local Plan was submitted to the Secretary of State on 28th March 2014 for examination, alongside the Cambridge Local Plan. The examinations commenced on 4th November 2014.
The Planning Inspectors wrote to the Councils in May 2015 raising some initial queries relating to objectively assessed need for new housing, the development strategy and conformity with national planning policy, and inviting the Councils to undertake additional work to address those issues before the examinations progress further.
The further work was completed, and consultation undertaken on a number of plan modifications. The Government Inspector is now (late 2016 through into 2017) continuing the examination of the submitted Plan.
What does this mean for Swavesey?
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) requires planning authorities to boost significantly the supply of housing and to identify and maintain a five-year housing land supply with an additional buffer.
South Cambs District Council accepts that it cannot currently demonstrate a five year housing land supply in the district as required by the NPPF, having a 3.9 year supply identified (by the Inspector in the Waterbeach appeals in 2014). In these circumstances any adopted or emerging policy which can be considered to restrict the supply of housing is considered ‘out of date’ in respect of paragraph 49 of the NPPF.
This in effect means that the development framework boundaries around villages carry much less weight in planning decisions so that, where previously it would have been a major objection and development would not necessarily be permitted outside of the village boundary, this is currently not the case.
Therefore we are now seeing proposals for major development around the edges of many South Cambridgeshire villages not just at Swavesey (including at Melbourn, Linton, Cottenham, Over, Waterbeach, Fulbourn, Bassingbourn, and Foxton amongst others).
National Planning Policy states that: where a Planning Authority cannot demonstrate a five year supply of housing land, paragraph 14 of the NPPF states that there is a presumption in favour of sustainable development. It says that where relevant policies are out of date, planning permission should be granted for development unless the adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits.
Until the Local Plan is approved by the Secretary of State, or the District Council can demonstrate that it has again got a 5 year housing land supply, this situation will not change and developers will continue to try to gain planning permission for land around village boundaries.
SCDC do not expect the Local Plan to be approved until later in 2017. It is closely monitoring the housing land supply situation and will publish its updated 5 year housing land supply figure in its Annual Monitoring Report in December.
Swavesey Parish Council November 2016