The questions you’re asking on the proposed development strategy consultation.

Breckland Council is reviewing the Local Plan. The new Local Plan will guide development across the district to 2046. Right now, the Council is inviting everyone to participate in a consultation that considers alternative development strategies that could inform the new Local Plan.

Here’s some of the most frequently-asked questions that have been raised during the consultation so far.

1. Looking at the new proposed Development Strategy Scenarios, how were the housing allocation numbers determined and do these reflect sites submitted in the Call for Sites?

Each of the Development Strategy Scenarios illustrate how the housing allocation numbers might look if different principles are applied to distribute growth across the district. These scenarios explore what it might look like if new development is focused on larger settlements or if growth were to be more evenly across the district and include more rural areas. They also consider how prioritising new development on strategic ‘brownfield’ sites might ease the pressure on market towns and smaller villages.

The overall number of homes shown in these illustrated scenarios is taken from the total housing target for the new Local Plan period to 2046 excluding homes already allocated (those with planning permission) and excluding an allocation for windfall sites (those sites that come forward unexpectedly for one or two homes).

For each scenario, the housing numbers for each place, has been informed by the status of each settlement (according to the Settlement Hierarchy in the current Local Plan), the existing population size and the number of homes built or committed in each settlement. The sites submitted in the recent Call for Sites have had no bearing on the preparation of these Development Strategy Scenarios.

2. Has the concept of a new settlement been entirely rejected?

There was significant opposition to the option of a new Garden Village during the Issues and Options phase of consultation. Strong views have been expressed against the creation of a Garden Village at North Elmham, which the Council acknowledges.

In line with public opinion, the Council’s starting point for considering new development is the provision, or likely delivery of community infrastructure – good access to public transport, roads as well as health provision and education among other services. This is vital for large-scale housing developments including Garden Villages. In the right place, with the right provision of community services a new settlement or Garden Village could be an alternative option to consider in determining a development strategy for Breckland.

3. What happens if we don’t agree with how the Council has assessed some of the potential sites submitted as part of the Call for Sites?

Through the new proposed assessment criteria the Council is aiming to find a fair way to assess which of the submitted sites to shortlist. This consultation is an opportunity to hear everyone’s thoughts on the proposed criteria and also whether this has been applied correctly to the submitted sites.

The Council is keen to hear which aspects of the criteria don’t work, whether additional questions are required or which of the questions are the most important. This is an opportunity for people to say if they don’t agree with how sites have been assessed.

The submitted sites will be reviewed in a second phase, which will bring in expert views from specialists – statutory consultees such as Natural England – to consider aspects including flood risk, utility constraints and proximity to protected areas such as The Brecks.

A shortlist of sites will then be prepared to align to the development strategy as part of the Preferred Options phase of consultation, likely to begin in late Spring. Feedback at this stage will help the Council to finalise the sites to take forward as part of the new Local Plan

Any development proposals that come forward for these sites will still need to be considered as part of the planning process.

4. What is a Local Service Centre?

A Local Service Centre is a technical term for a parish that is considered to have an appropriate provision of community services to support further development. A Local Service Centre is defined by meeting five key elements, or tests:

Having a primary school; having an appropriate level of public transport with frequent services to a larger settlement in peak hours; a community facility such as a village hall, pub or cafe; employment (as an indicator of economic activity); and a village shop or post office.

5. Why is the Council doing extra consultation?

In reviewing the feedback shared during the Issues and Options phase of consultation, the Council has decided that some topics need further consideration and this is why this extra phase of consultation has been added.

Specifically, this consultation focuses on identifying a preferred development strategy looking at how growth could be allocated across the district. It also considers whether the settlement boundary approach (as set out in the current Local Plan) is the right way to protect Breckland’s countryside and the character of villages; whether the definition of a Local Service Centre is still appropriate; and whether the proposed assessment criteria for shortlisting potential sites submitted is fit for purpose.

This extra consultation will continue until Monday 19th February. There will be a further phase of consultation – Preferred Options – in late Spring which will be an opportunity for everyone to review the full draft of the Local Plan.

If you have any further questions, visit Commonplace to find out how to get in touch with the team.

Thank you.

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(Source: Breckland Council)