Friday, January 18, 2013

Neighbourhood development plan and permaculture

My parish ( google Drayton near Abingdon ) has adopted a draft housing policy to assist in responses to planning applications.  Weight must be given to these policies which have been drafted to comply with the NPPF (see para 216) although scrutiny by the public is  still to be arranged.  These policies are intended to make new housing as low carbon as possible in terms of materials, energy efficiency and occupation, but also, to make the village location more sustainable through contributions to facilities, services and employment opportunities.  There seems to be every justification for requiring the highest standards to avoid the need for refurbishment and retrofit in the years to 2050 when all housing will have to be close to zero carbon.

One of the contributions expected from new housing (through s106 until it is replaced by Community Infrastructure Levy) is towards allotments and smallholdings.  Cross referencing to countryside and employment policies (not yet adopted by the parish council) it might prove possible to secure one or more dwellings to be restricted by agricultural occupancy conditions (ag tags) and linked to land surplus to that being developed for residential purposes.  If these policies are to accepted by the village, parish council and the local planning authority and taken seriously by developers there will have to be evidence that local food production, processing and distribution could make a substantial contribution to carbon reductions (as well as other benefits recognised as contributing to sustainable development).  There can be promotion of permaculture, community support agriculture and agroforestry with supporting evidence of the benefits.  Whether co-housing and self-building (both being promoted in the draft housing policies) can be woven into the local food story remains to be seen.

And why use NDPs when LPAs have their development plans and will be determining planning applications?   Because district councils  (invc unitaries) may be more hampered by what they regard as normal planning considerations.. This does not prevent LPAs and other parishes from adopting imaginative polices for planning the future of village and particularly the edges where new development is most likely to happen.  If enough NDPs adopt this kind of policy and have these given weight by LPAs there is less reason for the LPA not to follow.

1 comment: