Role of Law, Policy, and Evidence in Developing a Local Plan - Paper Example

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1728 Words
Date:  2022-06-21


Rudolf and Gradinaru (2017, p. 538) define a local plan to be any statutory document structured by a council with the aim of the setting out the strategies and vision for the development of a local borough. A local plan provides strategic principles governing the future development of a locality by setting out policies, objectives, and visions guiding development projects. The other role of a local plan is to set planning policies and earmark sites that require development. It also forms the basis for making decisions about planning applications. In the UK, Peterborough Local Plan adopted in March 2018 represents the latest statutory documented structured with the objective of ensuring that Peterborough neighbourhood becomes a better region to work, live or visit (Peterborough City Council 2018). As a strategic document, Peterborough Local Plan provides the general approach that will be used in developing the region in accordance to the borough's vision 2026. The matters covered in the Peterborough Local Plan 2018 address the location and number of new homes, location and quantity of employment land, areas for new infrastructure, improvement and protection of essential open areas, and enhancement of community facilities and town centres in Peterborough. Before reaching the adoption stage, a local plan must pass through several stages where there are consultations and examinations of the appropriateness and impact of the local plan on other projects. Laws, policies, and evidence play critical roles from the preliminary stage to the adoption stage of a local plan. The essay explains the significance of law, policy, and evidence in determining the process that a local plan passes and in shaping decisions made. Reference is made to the recently adopted Peterborough Local Plan in elucidating how laws, planning policies and evidence influence the adoption of a local plan.

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Before submission of any local plan must pass through four key stages namely gathering of evidence and public involvement, pre-submission publication, submission phase and independent examination and reporting. In Peterborough Local Plan, the first stage occurred in 15th January 2015 when the City Council began consulting with the national planning authority about the intention to produce a replacement of existing Development Plan Documents (DPDs) such as previously implemented Peterborough Core Strategy. The duration of the first stage was one year because it ended on 25th February 2016 (Peterborough City Council 2018). The public, general and specific consultation bodies were involved in the process of planning, gathering and preparing appropriate reports about the local plan. Sustainability appraisal began at the first stage (Brookfield 2016, p. 397). The Local Plan proceeded to the next stage where there was consideration of the responses recorded in the first consultation. Evidence base document is important in the second stage as they provide findings of Sustainability Appraisal. The second consultation occurred and took six months with the end product being the production of a Sustainability Appraisal document. The public members were also involved in the second consultation and local planning authority made changes to the first draft in accordance with the responses from the second consultation (Barclay 2012, p. ). In the last stage, there was the submission of the final draft to the government alongside a document giving a comprehensive summary of the key issues. There was an examination of the final document by an independent assessor to determine whether the consultation and document preparation procedures adhered to relevant policies, legislation, and acts. In March 2018, the report was examined by the inspector who recommended it for adoption after a thorough evaluation showed that the local plan was sound and satisfied all the legal requirements.

As Peterborough Local plan passed through all the four stages laws, regulation and evidence underpinned its success. First, the National Planning Policy Framework was important in setting clear expectations regarding how the plan would be developed for justification (Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government 2016). A local plan ought to be consistent with national policies on planning, acts, and regulations for it to provide sustainable development which would meet the national priorities and the local needs. Among the most essential acts and regulations in the formation of Peterborough Local Plan was the Neighbourhood Planning Regulations 2012 whose objectives include setting out the necessary procedures for the local authorities to design neighbourhood forums and was for development orders and plans. The regulation was essential in the development of Peterborough Local Plan because it informed the concept of Site Allocation thus enabling the local authorities to assign land for retail, employment, and retail uses. As Parker et al. (2017, p. 18 ) suggest, the need for allocation of land follows the fact the suitable development occurs at a specific site hence the contribution of Neighbourhood Planning Regulations 2012 in Peterborough Local Plan was providing the residents, local authorities, and developers with certainty regarding the areas suitable for future development. UK Environmental Law guided the Council's decisions on waste management and the allocation of areas for management and development of wastes and minerals in Peterborough (Braintree District Council 2015, p. 6). The assistance of environmental laws and regulations led to the Council identifying sites for waste management to address the residents' concerns about odours, water pollution, and their associated health risks. In the local plan, the Council proposed the formation of Peterborough Waste Management Division whose role while be to oversee how workers collect, process and dispose of solid wastes generated by different industrial and domestic activities within the borough. Environmental protection laws and regulations mandated the Waste Management Division with the formation of programs such as disposal and processing of hazardous household wastes, compose sales, organic processing, and collection of green wastes, educating the residents and promoting environmental events.

Another important regulation in Peterborough Local Plan is the Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004 which addressed overarching issues related to environmental protection, sustainability, and conservation. The first issue is the Zero Carbon emission to ensure that carbon emissions and energy consumption in the borough becomes lower than the country-wide average (Yusoff 2016, p. 906). The inclusion of the regulation in the local plan ensures that all the development project considers reduction of carbon emission and increase the use of renewable energy. The second issue that the regulation addressed was sustainable water so that the development plans in the local areas such as drainage networks adapt to the intense rainfall in the region (Peterborough City Council 2018). The consideration of sustainability in water sources and drainage implies that the local plan will enable the borough to cope with future population growth which will put increased pressure on the water resources which are limited in Peterborough. Thirdly, Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004 addressed wildlife and land use because Peterborough has a vast natural land that requires the local authorities to enhance and protect. Zero Carbon policy is related to Zero Waste regulation in which the local plan advocated for Peterborough residents to recycle materials and use those that are sustainable. The Council's target was evident in composting and recycling records which became evidence-based documents informing decisions about the soundness of the local plan. Lastly, policies on transport sustainability were included in the regulation because of the need to improve public transport, cycling networks and walking in the region which has effective rail networks linking it with major towns (Fischer & Yu 2018, p. 338).

One of the main Acts that shaped the decision-making procedures in the Peterborough Local Plan is the Localism Act 2011 because it provides flexibilities and freedom to the local government and community members to make decisions about their borough which are aired through community forums and consultations (Salet & Vries 2017, p. 113). The Act is essential because the local plan has the aim of providing the communities the power to make decisions about their neighbourhood hence shaping the growth and development of the local area. The Localism Act 2011 was essential in the Peterborough Local Plan because it reiterates the role that communities have in drawing up the right to build orders, and development order or plan. However, the right to participation in the local plan formation is voluntary to communities and neighbourhoods as individuals who involved in the Peterborough Local Plan did on at their discretion (Brookfield 2016, 416). Furthermore, the Localism Act 2011 influenced the local plan by informing small business regulation in that it enables the council to draw maps and designation of areas for businesses and other for residential. The provision of rights and mandate to involve the locals ensures that the council takes decisions related to housing locally. The influence of Localism Act on the decision making in local plan is such that it gives the local authorities the power to make decisions thus ensuring that the local plan will meet the needs of the neighbourhood residents (Barclay 2012, p. 83). Involvement of the locals during the consultation is necessary to ensure effectiveness and fairness. Lastly, Localism Act imposed a Duty to Cooperate on Peterborough local council holding them responsible for active and constructive engagement with relevant authorities on a continuous basis to monitor the effectiveness of the local plan (Peterborough City Council 2018). Duty to Cooperate became the basis of soundness and legal test regarding the compliance of the local plan.

Evidence plays a critical role in the development of a local plan because it offers a reasoned justification of the procedures and planning policies used (Braintree District Council 2015, p. 2). The contents of local plan evidence can either be opinions or factual information. Opinions explain the local community's views about the plan and may include the views of community organisations and local business affected by the plan. On the other hand, factual information requires the council to conduct research studies or surveys on the neighbourhood concerning topics such as environment, health education, and employment. Information gathered in the research might include the capacity and condition of the neighbourhood infrastructure. In Peterborough Local Plan, Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) was the primary evidence as highlighted in the National Policy Planning Framework (NPPF) (Peterborough City Council, 2018). SHMA identified the mix and scale of housing facilities and tenure ranges which the residents would require throughout the local plan's period. The findings from the SHMA informed the development of the local plan by specifying the necessities required to meet population and household projections with the consideration of demographic changes and immigration in the region. SHMA findings were essential in Peterborough Local Plan because it led to the council detailing the residents' needs and preferences in the housing including the affordability and suitability of facilities to different groups in the borough. Evidence c...

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