Rutland County Council leader Gale Waller shares why it’s important to have your say in Local Plan consultation
Where local authorities allow housing to be built is a key concern for very many residents, writes Gale Waller (Lib Dem), leader of Rutland County Council.
Locally, both South Kesteven and Rutland County Council have Local Plans, which allocate sites for potential development. Once “made” – to use planning jargon – these plans typically last 15 years, so it is crucial they are right for their local areas. They don’t just cover where housing might go but also what it might look like, the mix of housing (affordable housing, house sizes and so on). They also allocate land for employment and retail uses. A Local Plan covers other issues, such as where green spaces might be or new water features; issues concerning the environment and mineral extraction and whether new towns will be created.
Those who are familiar with the process to develop Rutland’s new Local Plan will know that we have reached a decisive stage. Having spent many months gathering data and evidence, considering the suitability of various sites put forward by landowners and asking for your views on some of the key issues that underpin planning policy at a local level, we are now ready to produce a draft of our new Plan and need your considered feedback.
Next week will see the launch of a public consultation that is critical to the long-term future of our county. Local Plans go through many iterations before they are submitted to an independent inspector for examination, prior to adoption. They must satisfy the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). They must be supported by robust evidence and they must be viable i.e. any houses that are built must be financially deliverable and still make a profit for the developer. Readers might not think this a priority when compared to issues like the environment and affordable housing. However, a non-viable plan will not be approved by the independent inspector. In this respect, the Local Plan is a delicate balancing act. As a seminal document that will inform local planning decisions for many years we want, and need, the Local Plan to be aspirational – to help us achieve positive change and sustain that which is most important.
Equally, the Plan must be measured and realistic. It needs to reflect the findings of detailed evidence gathering and take a pragmatic approach to determining which areas are best for certain types and quantities of development, based on our needs.
In this Local Plan, following earlier consultation already mentioned, we are setting out our initial proposals for housing development and associated policies to cover a period until 2041. All the responses we receive will be considered and this version of the Plan can and will change as a direct result of the feedback you give us. It is therefore the biggest and best opportunity you have to influence what the final version looks like. And you don’t have to live in Rutland to respond to this consultation; all responses will be considered.
Consultation will get underway on Monday, November 13, at which point everything you need to know about how to take part will be published online at: www.rutland.gov.uk/localplan. For those of you who do not have access to a computer or the internet, please get in touch with us by phone 01572 722 577 from Monday and we will be able to guide you through the consultation by other means. It is a long document but is split into subject-specific chapters. You might only want to comment on parts of it, which is absolutely fine, but I would urge readers to look at the Draft Local Plan and give us their comments.