Following this mornings story I fund from various sources, including Andy Boddington, that following questions being asked over the last few weeks of the legality of a Neighbourhood Plan being submitted for examination in advance of finalisatioation of the regulations it would seem it is not a lawful neighbourhood plan at all.
From Teignbridge’s responses to the questions asked to the examiner (I was told off by an Inspector for calling the good professor an inspector)
While the process for preparing the Dawlish Parish Neighbourhood Plan embraces elements of the process for preparing formal Neighbourhood Plans significant work has been undertaken prior to the enactment of the Localism Bill and has been in advance of Neighbourhood Planning Regulations that came into force on 6th April. As such the Dawlish Parish Neighbourhood Plan is not being prepared as a formal Neighbourhood
Plan and is not in accordance with the statutory requirements of the Localism Act 2012 and The Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012.
The Dawlish Parish Neighbourhood Plan will be a non-statutory / informal community planning document forming part of the evidence that will be material to, and which can be used to help inform the preparation of a strategy for the future planning of the Dawlish area included in the Teignbridge Core Strategy (soon to be Teignbridge Local Plan). The Dawlish Parish Neighbourhood Plan will not be a Development Plan Document or Supplementary Planning Document and as such is not intended to be adopted by Teignbridge District Council.
Sorry but what a joke, why not just withdraw it and resubmit it once the minor work needed to make it lawful is understaken? Perhaps because they know that then it would be examined under the NPPF and it would not conform to the strategic policies of the local plan and so would have to be rejected. What a case of climbing up to the top of the hill.
So some questions
Will the Examiners Report set any precedent? – none whatsover the process is not that of a lawful neighbourhood plan
Do the Town Council and District have to follow the inspectors’ report? – They can make paper hats out of it if they wish it is not a lawful neighbourhood plan
Is it planning policy? – No – under the 2004 act section 17 (3) it must be part of the LDF to be policy ‘relating to the development and use of land in an area‘ this is not and so cannot be planning policy.
Is it required to be SEAd? – No only policy used to inform development consents are required to be SEAd under the SEA directive. This is not planning policy that can lawfully be used to determine such consents and so there is no SEA or habitat directive implications. Of course if it were used in any way to determine development consents unlawfully under UK law this would then also be unlawful under European law.
Can it be used as evidence as part of the LDF? – Possibly but not in any way relating to decisions that are required to be SEAd – for reasons above.
Can Pathfinder money be used to fund the referendum and examination process? – This money is for pioneering the neighbourhood plan process not for neighbourhood plans per-se. However part of the money relates to ‘new burdens’ as the examination and referendum are non statutory they do not qualify and Teignbridge of the Town council will have to fund this out of their own pocket. Indeed I imagine the ‘new burdens’ component of the 20k will have to be returned to DCLG unspent. As with other non-statutory referendums in the news local residents may then ask the district auditor questions.
Should the examiner continue? – ask him seems a bit of a waste of time to me, an inspector I am sure would have halted it by now. He may wish to ask questions over whether paying his fee will be lawful.