Here you can download the slides, and if you wish, the speaker's notes, from the presentation given at the Wells Cole Community Centre on 14th August 2018, and also the message sent by George Freeman MP, that was read out during the presentation You can also read the questions asked by villagers, and the answers given
If you have Microsoft Powerpoint and wish to see the full presentation including pictures, download this file. You can view it in conjunction with the speaker's notes which include mouse symbols to indicate where to advance the slide animations
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Village Presentation 14th August 2018 - Questions and Answers Q: Regarding the 5 year land supply rule, and that being a 3 year rule for the Neighbourhood Plan, how often is the 3 year rule considered going forward, and is this similar to the settlement boundary? A: This rule does not relate to the settlement boundary, but to all land in Breckland. Try not to confuse this rule with what is actually being built in a 3 or 5 year period. What it does look at is has Breckland Council granted sufficient planning permissions to meet its housing allocation for the next 3 (5) year period? If not the National Planning Policy Framework dictates that less weight shall be given to the requirements of local and neighbourhood plan policies. Because this subject may be a bit tricky to grasp we've written a more detailed guide to the land supply rule, which you can find here Q: How is the 3 year plan reappraised as demand moves forward? A: Breckland Council must recalculate its available land supply once a year. This isn't related to demand but to planning permissions. As an example if the Local Plan dictates that say 2000 houses must be built in the 5 year period from the date of the calculation, but the calculation shows there are only permissions for say 1600, the land supply would be 4 years (1600/2000 x 5). In that case Local Plan policies would carry less weight; but for us, once we allocate sites our policies will have full weight, as Breckland would still satisfy the 3 year rule. This rule is not about houses built or planning permissions in Saham Toney specifically. Q: When the target allocations are used up, as they will be, who will decide what happens next? A: We will define preferred sites to meet our allocation. There are likely to be some others on a reserve list in case the preferred ones are not subsequently put forward. A plan cannot categorically state that development will stop once a certain limit is reached, but our plan says that any development above the target level must give the village really tangible benefit. Both we and more importantly Breckland planners, will only accept an amount of development within the spirit of the housing policies and allocation targets of both our plans. Q: Regarding the chart of village growth over the decades, it's seen that over 50 years the population more than doubled, whereas as it had been basically stable up till the 1950's. Since then encroachment and infill have detracted from the village character. Is this a growth cycle that could repeat itself? A: As a small correction, the chart shows the number of houses, rather than population being stable. There was clearly no Neighbourhood Plan when the greatest growth occurred, and we don't know what the Swaffham District Plan at the time said. Our plan will give a real measure of control over housing growth. This is supported by the Local Plan which specifies most growth will be in larger towns, so for example Watton will continue to grow. For us Breckland Council dictates 33 new homes up to 2036 and in practice even if that is exceeded it should not be by a large amount. But as with any plan if in say 5-10 years events indicate things are not working as intended, the plan could be reassessed. In reality the only real threat is Breckland Council failing to meet the land supply rule, and even if that were the case there would not be development on the scale seen from the mid-60's to the mid-90's. Q: When sites are agreed will the settlement boundary be adjusted? A: in theory we would be allowed to increase the size of the settlement boundary. In practice we will almost certainly choose not to do so, as that may lead to further development under Breckland Council's policy to allow new houses "immediately adjacent" to the settlement boundary. Q: Saham's demographics show a lot of 4/5 bed homes and conversely a lack of 1/2 bed homes. Can the neighbourhood plan encourage the Local Planning Authority to ensure an amount of 1/2 bed or starter homes, or will many villagers be left behind in the housing market? A: Our plan states that development shall include 1/2 bed homes and refers developers to our housing needs assessment which sets out what village needs are in this respect. Breckland Council hasn't yet agreed to this approach, but Swanton Morley, whose plan is more advanced than ours, are trying to do much the same things, and are in ongoing discussions with the Breckland housing team about it. We can benefit from any success they achieve. The local Plan says development must show community benefit and we've defined that for Saham as housing for locals and smaller houses (although not preventing some larger ones) to suit younger people or older residents down-sizing. Q: Regarding the settlement boundary is it true development can happen say .25 miles away from the boundary? A: Under both the Local and Neighbourhood Plans, development can be within or "immediately adjacent" to the settlement boundary. Breckland planners asked us to define what "immediately adjacent" really means while not doing so themselves. We think the Breckland policy that dictates this (which we follow) is a lazy way by which they avoid having to identify which land is and is not actually suitable for development. They cannot prove that there are sufficient sites immediately adjacent to the boundary to meet the housing allocation. Our site allocation process will do that one way or the other. It will also identify if there are better sites away from the settlement boundary, but in doing that the site assessments will look at numerous different criteria to make sure the best sites are being selected. Q: Could sites be allocated outside and not adjacent to the settlement boundary? A: Yes, Breckland Council have confirmed to us this will be allowed if we choose to allocate such sites. Additionally since we will issue our plan after theirs, ours will take precedence and hence over-rule any policy of theirs to the contrary. Q: Will site assessments consider invasion of the countryside? A: Yes. the assessment criteria will include that and the landscape sensitivity study Lucy (our landscape consultant) will do will help define appropriate criteria for it. Q: Why does a 20 year plan only run till 2036? is it because it was conceived in 2016? A: In part yes, but mainly because our plan period cannot exceed that of the Local Plan which runs for 25 years from 2011 to 2036. Q: For the village character study will villagers be allowed to say what they think of their area before the study starts? A: We hadn't thought of that, but will ask Lucy if it would be useful. Any information, photos etc about village history, or your own house can be added to our history document, so please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Q: In order to know what's new on the plan website, is it worthwhile considering sending a note to villagers advising of additional items recently posted? A: Yes that's a good idea. We'll send updates to all those on our mailing list (note: the first of these was circulated on 17th August and more will follow as when updates are made to the site).
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