Local Plans - NPPF

As noted, key features are the need to promote and deliver sustainable development that reflects the vision and aspirations of local communities together with the need for Local Plans to be consistent with the principles and policies within the NPPF, including the presumption in favour of sustainable development.

Local Plans should set out the strategic priorities for the area covering the following:-

  • the homes and jobs needed in the area;
  • the provision of retail, leisure and other commercial development;
  • the provision of infrastructure for transport, telecommunications, waste management, water supply, wastewater, flood risk and coastal change management, and the provision of minerals and energy (including heat);
  • the provision of health, security, community and cultural infrastructure and other local facilities; and
  • climate change mitigation and adaptation, conservation and enhancement of the natural and historic environment, including landscape.

Crucially, Local Plans should:

  • plan positively for the development and infrastructure required in the area to meet the objectives, principles and policies of this Framework;
  • be drawn up over an appropriate time scale, preferably a 15-year time horizon, take account of longer term requirements, and be kept up to date;
  • be based on co-operation with neighbouring authorities, public, voluntary and private sector organisations;
  • indicate broad locations for strategic development on a key diagram and
  • land-use designations on a proposals map;
  • allocate sites to promote development and flexible use of land, bringing forward new land where necessary, and provide detail on form, scale, access and quantum of development where appropriate;
  • identify areas where it may be necessary to limit freedom to change the uses of buildings, and support such restrictions with a clear explanation;
  • identify land where development would be inappropriate, for instance because of its environmental or historic significance; and contain a clear strategy for enhancing the natural, built and historic environment, and supporting Nature Improvement Areas where they have been identified.

It is clear that many of the above elements in the plan-making process will impinge on our canals and rivers in terms of their character and use. Having regard to the time frame involved for the adoption of new Local Plans, the coming months will see the release of hundreds of planning consultation documents throughout England with policies and proposals which will potentially affect waterside environments and projects. Urgent consideration needs to be given as to how the interests of the Inland Waterways are to be safeguarded and promoted in the light of locally produced consultation documents issued by English Local Authorities as well as in the form of Neighbourhood Plans. Information needs to be disseminated and draft Plans monitored. Vigilance is therefore required and representations will need to be submitted to both promote waterway projects and interests and oppose development which is deemed harmful to the Inland Waterways.

Section 110 of The Localism Act contains a “duty to cooperate” between neighbouring plan-making authorities and this principle is carried forward into the NPPF.  Clearly this is vital in relation to canal restoration projects which cross Local Authority boundaries. Presumably the same “duty to cooperate” will apply to Local Authorities with waterways which cross national boundaries such as the Llangollen and the Montgomery – although the NPPF does not apply in Wales. Where waterway projects do cross Local Authority boundaries, the involvement of IWA Branches and affiliated Societies and Trusts in the planning process will become all the more vital.