District Council Core Strategy

Your Representations on the Core Strategy – closing date 13 July 2012

 

You may have missed the plans of SMDC to re-consult on the Authority’s plans for Staffordshire Moorlands until 2026.

Representations have to be with SMDC by 13/7/2012 and WAG urges you not to miss the opportunity to have a say in the future of your community.

The test to be met is that the Core Strategy is Legally Compliant and ‘Sound’.

Since representations were made in the period that ended in January 2012 the planning laws and guidelines have changed and it is now necessary to show that ‘Legal Compliance and Soundness’ must now be measured against the provisions of the Localism Act 2011 and the National Planning Policy Framework.  These new provisions are complex and contain many as yet untested concepts.
If any of you would like help in structuring any response that you intend to make to the Core Strategy Document you may find help in the following list of instances of non-compliance identified by WAG:-

 

INTRODUCTION.

In this submission CSD means the Core Strategy Document that is the subject of this submission.

NPPF means the National Planning Policy Framework introduced by the Localism Act 2011.

 

Any paragraph numbers referred to herein are those used in the NPPF 2012.    Because of the format, space and time restrictions placed upon this response and a lack of access and the opportunity to verify the contents of all documents that do or might constitute the CSD the following points, are not in this document, fully argued although some are briefly referred to by way of indication only.  With appropriate time and access to all the evidential base and expertise more detailed submissions can be made.

 

FURTHER SUBMISSIONS ARISING FROM NPPF.

  • The CSD at the date of this submission is neither legally compliant nor sound for the reasons stated in previous submissions by WAG members and it is not compliant with NPPF 2012.
  • Large parts of the CSD fail to meet the criteria set out in the NPPF regarding “sustainable development”.
  • The CSD contains proposals for change which do not meet the criteria that it is “for the better”.
  • The CSD contains proposals that are not “essential to our well-being”.
  • The CSD contains elements that are not “economically  sustainable” as required by the NPPF. For a development to be economically  sustainable it must make a profit and the CSD contains no provision to show how that is to be determined. It therefore fails to meet the criteria as required in the NPPF.
  • The Governments “requirement” is that the CSD is  “relevant”, “proportionate”, and “necessary”. The CSD contains no or no credible and objectively assessable evidence that it meets the requirements of Paragraph 1.
  • The CSD fails in a number ways to promote EU obligations and statutory requirements. For reasons set out above a full recital of the nature and extent of those failings cannot be set out here, but broadly they encompass environmental enforcement legislation, greenbelt issues, toxic waste issues, a failure to support proposals with objectively      assessable evidence, a failure to disclose evidence that relates to a  clear change of policy during the preparation of the CSD arising out of  and as result of private assurances given to “Key Stakeholders” and despite formal and entirely proper and appropriate requests under the Freedom of Information Act [FOI].
  • The CSD fails to use a clear and logical matrix to assess such evidence, if any, that might have been obtained.
  • The CSD fails to comply with the legal provisions set out in the decision making framework set out in the Planning Act 2008.[See   above and later with regard to private assurances given to and the identification of “Key Stakeholders”.]
  • The CSD fails to meet the criteria of “sustainable development” as set out in Resolution 42/187 of the United Nations General   Assembly or the United Kingdoms “Sustainable Development Strategy Securing   the Future”.  In particular it does not demonstrate the “ five guiding principles of sustainable development viz.,

                                     1. Living within the planets environmental limits.

                                     2. Ensuring a strong, healthy and just society.

                                     3. Achieving a sustainable economy.

                                     4. Promoting good governance.

                                     5. Using sound science responsibly.

A few examples of these failings are:-

  1. Lack of consultation with those who are at danger from  contamination and the  removal  of heavy metals from sites where they are known to exist.
  2. The CSD as currently drawn makes no proper provision to remove or reduce the risk to residents from certain specified dangerous sites despite expert evidence that spells out its dangers to publi  health.
  3. MDCs failure to adhere to its own consultation protocol  means that the CSD does not meet the criteria relating to a “just society”.
  • SMDCs failure/ refusal to disclose the evidence of itsconsultation with and any commitments it has made to “Key Stakeholders” in regard to the specific amendments to the CSD that have been made to meet those commitments demonstrates that it is not committed to “promoting good governance” and is therefore not compliant with NPPF.
  • The CSD appears to demonstrate a complete absence of the use of “sound” science.
  • The CSD fails to comply, in some cases at all, with      paragraphs 18-219 NPPF inclusive.
  • The CSD cannot demonstrate that it is “economically sustainable” as it is required to do. For any development to be      economically sustainable it must “make a profit” otherwise it is      demonstrably not sustainable. The CSD contains no provision for showing  how any particular development will meet that criteria. It is submitted  that a combination of the legal doctrines of “Restraint of Trade” and “Commercial Confidentiality” will render the CSD inoperable when any attempt is made to assess whether and if so how any particular development meets the criteria of “economical sustainability”
  • As local communities were not consulted [in some cases a all] and/or in compliance with SMDCs best practice guidelines on the preparation of the CSD it cannot be shown to meet the criteria to “ reflect the communities needs and support its health, social and cultural well-being”. The Leader of SMDC has very recently gone on public record      saying “A Councillors job is to make decisions for the community, no  follow public opinion.” Such an approach underpins the reality that loca  communities are not being consulted properly and/or at all.
  • The CSD demonstrates in specific areas that it does not “  contribute to protecting and enhancing [the] natural, built and historic environment, improve bio-diversity, use natural resources prudently, minimise waste and pollution and mitigate and adapt to climate change including moving to a low carbon [local] economy”. Examples are an  existing failure to manage/mitigate pollution, a failure to demonstrate how it is to move towards a low carbon economy, a failure to produce/ promote/operate traffic management policies that might help achieve these aims.
  • The CSD fails to meet the NPPF requirement that “economic,  social and environmental gains” are being “ sought jointly and  simultaneously”.

The CSD does not contain any objectively assessable evidence of a commitment to “ improve peoples quality of life”

  • The CSD does not demonstrate how it will move from “a net loss of bio-diversity to achieving net gains for nature” or what matrix  will be employed to objectively measure same.
  • The CSD contains no matrix for establishing what constitutes “poor design” and “better design”.
  • The CSD contains no matrix for establishing what constitutes “improving the condition in which people live, work, travel, and take leisure”.
  • The CSD does not demonstrate how it complies with S.38 of  the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 and S.70 Town and Country Planning Act 1990.
  • The CSD does not demonstrate that it has “an up to date Local Plan” in place.
  • The CSD does not demonstrate compliance with S.19 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004.
  • The CSD is substantially out of date, is based on time  expired data and does not meet “objectively assessed needs and displays a lack of flexibility”.
  • The CSD fails to demonstrate that it can or will restrict development that may endanger sites protected under the Birds and Habitat  Directive Paragraph 119 and/or SSSI, land designated as Greenbelt, Local  Green Spaces, area[s] of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Designated  Heritage Assets.
  • The CSD fails to demonstrate compliance with the requirement to be “genuinely plan-led” and that it “empowers local people to shape their surroundings”. Further in its preparation the CSD has failed to demonstrate “joint working and co-operation with the local community and has expressly refused to allow the public to question the CSD in what was purported to be “village or local conversations/consultations”. Further on he 15th November 2011  at a Cabinet meeting of SMDC an elected represented wrongly represented  those “conversations/consultations” as providing the evidence base upon  which a planning policy document was to be released for discussion on a restricted number of options. When challenged on this matter SMDC refused  to ensure an accurate and balanced record of the representations appeared in the minutes of that meeting.[* see also the quoted remarks of the Leader of the SMDC above]. These matters and others referred to above demonstrate an authority that is unwilling and/or unable to meet the criteria requiring them to “ promote good governance”.
  • The CSD fails to take any or any proper and proportionate account of the roles and character of different areas affected by the CSD  and it is not in any objective way evidence-led or evidence based. In particular it contains provisions specifically written in at the request      of and in order to permit “ Key Stakeholders” the opportunity to damage the Greenbelt contrary to the provisions of the NPPF, such alterations i the then draft CSD being made without consultation of any kind with the      local community.[Documentary evidence exists to support this assertion.]
  • The CSD does not “contribute to conserving and enhancing the natural environment and reducing pollution”. Rather it contains  positive proposals that will, objectively assessed, damage the natural environment, pollute it and/or fail to ensure that pollution is safely removed.
  • The CSD fails sufficiently and in some cases at all to develop policies that encourage the re-use of Brownfield sites and land of      lesser environmental value.[eg insufficient emphasis on locating  development in the “gateway”  towns of Leek, Biddulph and Cheadle and using the power to give “business rate holidays” to help start up small new businesses]
  • The CSD contains few if any significant proposals as to how it will meet its obligations under the provisions of the NPPF to make  use of “ public transport in areas which are or can be made sustainable”.
  • In so far as the CSD contains any statement of “a clear economic vision and strategy” [and it is submitted that it does not in any  objectively assessable way] it is based on purported evidence that is now  substantially out of date and should not be relied upon. Further the brief prepared for the agency that produced the report upon which this aspect of      the CSD relies was such that it predicated the conclusions reached and cannot properly be regarded as “evidence”.
  • The CSD does not contain provision for it to apply the “sequential test” to planning applications.
  • The CSD appears not to contain any or any sufficiently clear and tightly drawn requirement for an “impact assessment” in those situations where one would be required.
  • The CSD contains no logical or enforceable policy to  ensure compliance with the authorities duty to “respect the character of      the countryside”.[In a planning application determined locally only days  before the provisions of the NPPF came into force the Authority purported to apply the principle shortly due to come into force in the Localism Act and the NPPF  namely applying the “presumption in favour of granting” the application before it. Yet it      acted inconsistently and partially by failing to apply the   principles relating to traffic issues and the adverse effects of excessive car usage in an area where there  existed an evident and longstanding nuisance that has “adverse effects on      the character of the countryside”. Neither was there any attempt to promote the principle of moving to a low carbon economy by measures aimed at reducing the impact of motor vehicles.  No attempt was made to promote  or manage the road environment or to promote bio-diversity and no assessment  was made to assess whether the development met the criteria of “economic   sustainability”.  The “pick and mix approach” to the above mentioned  application used by SMDC demonstrates further evidence that the Authority in developing the CSD is not equipped to properly apply the “ Wednesbuy Principles” to the issues of reasonableness and objectivity in so far as  it applies to the criteria set out in the NPPF.
  • The CSD does not demonstrate any or any sufficient and objectively assessable commitment to the NPPF requirement that it must  assess what constitutes “severe residual cumulative impacts”.
  • The CSD fails to demonstrate any or any significant commitment to prioritise pedestrian and cycle movement and is therefore  not compliant with NPPF.
  • The CSD fails to ensure that any sustainable development  is supported by an objectively assessable Travel Plan or to determine what matrix will be used to assess same.
  • The CSD contains no or no significant commitment to mee “the overall need to reduce the use of high-emission vehicles” an  contains no definition of such vehicles and is thereby not compliant wit NPPF.
  • The CSD contains no up to date, evidence-based andobjectively assessable need for “market” and “affordable” housing in relation to distinct and specific local communities as predicated by the scheme of development set out in the Localism Act and the NPPF. Rather SMDC has determined in advance that named communities must accommodate a  pre-specified number of “market” and/or “affordable” homes within a set time frame that has no regard to or survey of existing and available unoccupied properties within specified local communities.
  • The CSD fails to identify and has not annually up-dated  register of “specifically deliverable” sites for development and to make      the details of such a register available to scrutiny by local residents.      Further the following criteria is not met, namely, specifically deliverable sites must “offer a suitable location for development “ now,  and be achievable with a realistic prospect that housing will be deliverable on the site within five years and in particular that      development of the site is viable”. The CSD contains no definition of  “viable” or how such a concept will be compliant with NPPF.
  • The CSD fails to demonstrate a “five year supply of deliverable housing sites” in a way that complies with the scheme and statutory intent of the Localism Act and the NPPF.
  • The CSD fails to demonstrate that SMDC has “work[ed] with  the support of their local communities” in a way that fits with the intent and the scheme set out in the Localism Act and the NPPF. Rather SMDC has expressly  denied local communities “the opportunity to provide the best way of  achieving sustainable development” by misrepresenting the nature of village/local conversation/consultations and denying members of those communities access to such meetings as were held.
  • The CSD contains no “robust and comprehensive policies that set out the quality of development that will be expected in the area”  and which fits within the scheme and intent of the Localism Act and the NPPF.
  • The CSD contains no “understanding and evaluation of its[the separate local communities] defining characteristics”.
  • The CSD in being prepared has failed “to involve all sections of the community in the development of Local Plans”.
  • The CSD contains no provision to ensure a “positive and collaborative approach to the new “Community Right to Build Orders” and is  thus not complaint with NPPF.
  • The CSD contains no provision to “protect public Rights o Way and access to land”. Further and in so far as the national Government has set up a Cabinet Committee to receive evidence and submissions concerning the perceived need to “get rid of red-tape” and that the said  committee has as yet set no date to deliver a report and that national      bodies such as The Ramblers, The National Trust and the CPRE have   expressed concerns to the Cabinet committee about the proposals made by      organisations representing the interests of private land owners, that if      adopted, would remove/reduce the publics access to land, it is imperative  that the CSD contains a clear and unambiguous commitment to “Protect      public Rights of Way and access to land and incorporates in the CSD  documentary evidence of all current and planned Rights of Way and intended access to land under the “right to roam” legislation so as to protect  present and future generations right of access.
  • In specified areas the CSD is not compliant with Government policy on Green Belt and does not meet the provisions of the NPPF.
  • The CSD contains few [if any] plans to “positively enhance the beneficial use of the Green Belt” and is thus not compliant with NPPF.
  • The CSD fails to comply with the NPPF with regard to Mineral extraction.
  • The CSD fails sufficiently and/or at all to “protect and  enhance valued landscapes, geological conservation interests, fails to  recognise the wider benefits of ecosystems, fails to minimise impacts on  bio-diversity at specific sites and to provided for net gains of      bio-diversity and fails to establish coherent ecological networks that are      more resilient to current and future pressures”.
  • The CSD fails to meet, in any objectively assessable way, the duty of SMDC to “minimise pollution and other adverse effects on the  local and natural environment” and is thus not compliant with NPPF.  At specific sites the authority is in breach of its duty to protect the publics health.
  • The CSD demonstrates few if any criteria based policies to protect against developments that would or might affect protected wildlife or geo-diversity sites or landscapes. Further it fails to incorporate the guidance contained in circular 06/2005. It is not compliant with NPPF.
  • The CSD fails to show how it will comply with its duty to ensure that its effects meet the obligation to operate “across local      authority boundaries” and is thus not compliant with NPPF.
  • The CSD fails sufficiently, or at all, to “promote the  preservation, restoration and re-creation of priority habitat, ecological      networks and the protection and recovery of priority species populations      linked to national and local targets and to identify suitable indicators      for monitoring biodiversity. It is thus not compliant with NPPF.
  • The CSD fails to identify sufficiently, or at all, how and      in what circumstances it will meet the “primary objective of conserving or enhancing biodiversity” and is thus not compliant with NPPF.
  • The CSD contains no provision, commitment or scheme to show how and in what circumstances it will adhere to the principles set      out in Part 11A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and is thus not compliant with NPPF.
  • The CSD contains no provision or mechanism to identify and protect “areas of tranquillity” and it thus not compliant with NPPF.
  • The CSD contains no or no sufficient and “positive  strategy for the conservation and enjoyment of the historic environment      including heritage assets most at risk” and does not comply with the Planning [Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas] Act 1990.It is not  therefore compliant with NPPF.
  • The CSD is not compliant with the provisions of paragraphs 142-149 of the NPPF.
  • The CSD is not compliant with the provisions of paragraphs  150-157 of the NPPF.
  • The CSD is not compliant with paragraph 158 of the NPPF as   it is not based on up to date and relevant evidence of economic, social      and environmental characteristics and prospects of the area.
  • The CSD does not demonstrate how it has complied with its duty to co-operate with neighbouring authorities, public, voluntary, and private sector organisations in a way that meets the criteria of  sustainability set out in the NPPF and is therefore not compliant.
  • The CSD fails to demonstrate its compliance with      paragraphs 163,165, 166 of the NPPF. The refusal of SMDC to say how and by  what criteria it identified “ Key Stakeholders” and the rejection of  requests of individuals and organisations to become “ Key Stakeholders” in the process of planning for the future of local communities demonstrated an unwillingness to commit to the then emerging principles of the NPPF.
  • The CSD fails to demonstrate how it will comply with      paragraphs 173-177 inclusive of NPPF
  • The CSD fails to demonstrate how it will meet its duty to  comply with paragraphs 178-181 inclusive of NPPF.
  • The CSD fails to demonstrate compliance with paragraph 182 of NPPF relating to its duty to co-operate with and observe the legal and  procedural requirements and to show how it meets the obligations of “soundness”.   It is not in any objectively measurable sense “Positively prepared,  Justified, Effective, or Consistent” with national policy.
  • The CSD is not compliant with paragraphs 183, 184, 185 of      NPPF. Officers and elected representatives have misrepresented the      mechanisms, purposes and objectives of processes they have used in      developing the CSD and so have failed in the duty to “put forward a shared  vision of sustainable development” in the local communities within the      schemes and intentions set out in the Localism Act and the NPPF.
  • The CSD is not compliant with paragraphs 188-195 inclusive  as evidenced by the following;
  • Officers have engaged in secret meetings with “Key Stakeholders” during which they have given commitments to prepare the CSD in a manner that furthers the commercial interests of those “ Stake Holders” and have failed to keep any or any accurate notes of such  meetings and/or have failed to disclose the fact of those meetings and the      contents thereof despite proper requests to do so by local residents under  the FOI Act.
  • Reworked the CSD to ensure no obstruction is placed in the way of the commercial interests of those “Key Stake Holders” in bringing  forward plans for developments upon which local communities have been positively denied an opportunity to comment or view any evidence upon  which such commitments have been made.
  • rejected requests from the local community to be considered   “key stakeholders” in the process of preparing the CSD.
  • demonstrated an unwillingness to commit to “ open  governance”
  • The CSD is not compliant with paragraphs 203-207 of NPPF.      The public record demonstrates that SMDC has failed to use its planning      enforcement powers to properly and to adequately protect the historic built environment [e.g. Cotton College]

CONCLUSION

                  For All the reasons set out above and many more too numerous and detailed to set out herein it is submitted that the CSD is not legally compliant or sound.