Rebadging Selfishness as Sustainable. Nothing radical or new here; back to Pickles failed system
Cllr Spencer Fowler Leader
Local Plans are a key component of the planning system. They shape how land use and places will change and develop in the future. This is why I have been, and continue to be, in a dialogue with the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and his officials, offering a constructive, bold and ambitious alternative for the way we develop our new Local Plan – one that is right for Dorset.
In my dialogue with Michael Gove, I have been arguing that the current national planning framework is not providing councils with the means to promote sustainable development through their Local Plans but is instead about chasing housing targets.
I am seeking reform of this framework and proposing that Dorset could be a pilot for a new way of creating Local Plans, based on sustainability and local needs over the next 30 years, that also recognises the ambitions of our Climate and Ecological Emergency Strategy.
We must have a Local Plan in place: without one we face the risk of unmanaged development in Dorset, but it has to be the right plan. Our hard-working and innovative planning officers have ensured the draft Local Plan is the best it can be, but it is constrained by current planning legislation.
As a result, of the unprecedented 9,000 responses our public consultation received, many residents share my view that the draft Local Plan chases housing numbers rather than prioritises local needs.
I also believe it is better to have fewer bigger-scale new developments in Dorset which bring in the necessary funding and infrastructure, rather than lots of small developments which put further pressure on already-stretched community resources.
I’ve asked Mr. Gove to consider several radical alternatives:
- allow Dorset to pilot a radically different approach to Local Plan making
- break the link between the housing land supply numbers and the Duty to Cooperate – i.e. the requirement for Dorset Council to accept unmet housing need from neighbouring councils
- allow Dorset an extension of two years until April 2026 to give more time for the new Dorset Local Plan to be developed and approved. During this extended period of plan preparation, Dorset should be protected against speculative housing development by suspending the five-year land supply requirement or by other means necessary
- fully recognise the climate and ecological emergency in the planning system, including new building regulations.
We recognise that this is national policy and may require changes to primary legislation, which is not in our gift locally.
Representing you is a privilege that I take extremely seriously, and my approach to the Government recognises both my and Dorset Council’s commitment to the needs and aspirations of the residents of Dorset. I am a strong advocate for Dorset and remain committed to lobbying for a better deal for the communities of Dorset.