Under the final NPPF an examiner into a local plan has only one question before them, under para. 184 ‘Neighbourhood plans must be in general conformity with the strategic policies of the Local Plan.’
The draft NPPF requirement of whether the NP is appropriate having regard to the NPPF is deleted. This seems to remove from the Inspectors discretion whether or not the NP is positive and permissive as the NPPF states, or even whether it is supported by the evidence, is a good plan, or includes sites which are supported by evidence.
In Dawlish’s case there is no core strategy yet adopted. There is a save policy from the old local plan, but saved policies H1 and H2 only allow development within development boundaries, and the urban extension for Dawlish promoted in the CS and NP is outside this. So it isnt in gneral conformity with the local plan. If the inspector was examining it in line with the wording of the draft NPPF on this point had it been carried forward he could say ok but it has additional development because it is ‘appropriate having regard to the NPPF’. But now the inspector has no such discretion.
One can see a galactic clusterfuck to neighbourhood planning coming. Due to the poor drafting of para 184 of the NPPF if the inspector acts as this sets out the NP will have to be rejected, even if it ios a good plan, and if not a legal challenge by an objector to the urban extension seems certain, especially as its appropriateness has not yet been determined in accordance with the SEA directive. In cases where a major urban extension is ahead of a local plan as here the NP inspector would appear to be the ‘SEA Authority’ (to use the phrase often used by inspectors) in this regard under article 4 of Directive 2001/42/EC .
In structure plan days there was a way out – policy allowed inspectors to make the ‘permitted assumption’ that general conformity could be with a draft plan not an adopted one – but that permitted assumption has long since been removed.
Im not the only one with concerns here Outlaw:
Planning Inspector Christopher Balch is expected to publish his report on the Dawlish Neighbourhood Plan following examination hearing sessions that took place on 23 and 24 April. It is the first Neighbourhood Plan to reach the examination stage in England. 14 May 2012Balch’s examination of the Plan focussed on housing growth, the balance between housing and jobs and on protecting the environment. It is anticipated that his informal, non-binding, report of examination will be published by 21 May.
“The Inspector’s report will be eagerly anticipated not least because it must consider whether the Neighbourhood Plan is in general conformity with the strategic policies contained in the development plan for Teignbridge,” said Jamie Lockerbie, a planning expert at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com.
“It will be interesting to see how the Inspector addresses this condition bearing in mind the departures from the emerging Teignbridge Core Strategy and the additional complication of this document not yet being the development plan for the area by virtue of its emerging status,” said Lockerbie.