The Lichfield District Local Plan |
|Consultation response by the Lichfield Civic Society|
Q3. Do you consider that the Local Plan Strategy is positively prepared? - No
Whilst the strategy does address the infrastructure requirements of new development it fails to indicate the means by which timely delivery of key, strategic and other infrastructure will be ensured as indicated in the answers to Q5
Q4. Do you consider that the Local Plan Strategy is justified? - No
Securing timely delivery of essential and other infrastructure on SDA's and elsewhere
Core Policy 4: Delivering Our Infrastructure on page 42 in the 4th (penultimate) paragraph states
"New development will be required to provide the necessary infrastructure at a timely stage to meet the community needs arising as a result. Development will also be expected to contribute, as appropriate, to strategic projects that support sustainable development and the wider community."
and in the 5th (last) paragraph following statement:-
"Both strategic and local infrastructure provision will be linked to the phasing of new development. Phasing details are set out in the Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP) and the Concept Statements relating to the Strategic Development Locations (SDAs) identified in the Local Plan." IDP paragraph 1.4 however goes further by referring to delivery in advance of development as follows:-
"It is recognised that any proposed growth within Lichfield District must be supported by improvements to physical, social and green infrastructure, and where necessary, be delivered in advance of development."
We fully support the statement in paragraph 1.4 but are concerned that the mechanisms and processes to ensure timely delivery of infrastructure are not referred to in the Core Policy or the IDP document.
The reference in paragraph 8.6 of the Strategy on page 53 to "Regular reviews will take place to ensure that the timing, level and nature of investment in key infrastructure is in line with that originally predicted, and is delivering sufficient capacity to accommodate the development planned. If not, priority will be given to encouraging the provision of key essential infrastructure. This will ensure that significant development does not take place without the essential infrastructure required to support it." does not properly address this issue. There is no definition of what is key essential infrastructure in the Strategy or the Infra-structure Delivery Plan which refers to Strategic infrastructure. The developer, residents, the District and County Council's will have different views on this.
The need for conditions, contractual requirements or section 106 agreements and their effective enforcement to secure timely delivery of infrastructure should be a strengthened policy commitment expressly included in Core Policy 4.
The reference in the IDP to delivery of infrastructure, where necessary, in advance of development should also be included in the Core Policy. Conditions relating to phasing and control of density to ensure the overall scale of development is consistent with the allocations and the consent are also essential.
There have been many serious problems over the delivery of infra-structure on the Darwin Park (Walsall Road) development of 1200 houses some aspects of which are still unresolved after more than 10 years. Highways and sewers are still unadopted and serious delays occurred in delivery of the community hall and usable open space. The Leomansley Area Residents Association submitted at the draft Core Strategy stage a catalogue of the issues and problems. This Strategy should show that lessons have been learnt from those difficulties by there being better control over timely delivery and works required to be completed before development commences.
To avoid repetition of delays in the development of new sites the Strategy should include a policy that expressly indicates that consent will not be granted for the SDA sites and other development sites unless arrangements for delivery of key or strategic infra-structure is assured by the existence of binding and legally enforceable obligations for the delivery either before commencement or on time scales satisfactory to the LPA. This would for example require completion of Southern By-pass before any dwellings are occupied on the South of Lichfield Site and agreed timescales for A38/A5 improvements. This approach would to avoid for the South Lichfield development site the seriously protracted delays experienced in securing construction of a similar rail under bridge on the Darwin Park development.
Q5. Do you consider that the Local Plan Strategy is effective? - No
Because of the absence of a policy commitment to secure and enforce infrastructure provision as described in this representation.
Q6. Do you consider that the Local Plan Strategy is consistent with the National Planning Policy Framework? - No
The NPPF identifies provision of infrastructure as part of the economic role of sustainable development and that one of the core principles of planning principles is to "proactively drive and support sustainable economic development to deliver the homes, business and industrial units, infrastructure and thriving local places that the country needs." Failure to proactively ensure the delivery of infrastructure on new housing developments creates adverse conditions for residents which should not be inflicted upon them.
Q7. Please set out what change(s) you consider necessary to address your representations.
There is a need for the Council to adopt a proactive rather than passive approach to securing the delivery of key infrastructure needed prior to the commencement of development. The same approach is needed in a properly co-ordinated way with the County Council and the local parish council concerning delivery of community and other essential facilities at specified stages in the development of housing sites.
To achieve this the following is suggested wording to be incorporated into Core Policy 4 Infrastructure by the insertion after the fourth paragraph on page 42 of the following:-
"It is recognised that any proposed growth within Lichfield District must be supported by improvements to physical, social and green infrastructure, and where necessary, be delivered in advance of development." (Note: this is the wording of paragraph 1.4 in the IDP)
and the insertion after the fifth paragraph on page 42 of the following:-
"In addition the timing of the release of allocated sites and the grant of consent will be phased depending upon whether the arrangements for delivery of key or strategic infrastructure is assured by the existence of binding and legally enforceable obligations either before commencement or on time scales satisfactory to the LPA. Where conditions or other obligations have been applied or commitments given regarding the timing of infrastructure delivery which are not met then the grant of detailed permission on phases within sites will be withheld until those obligations are fulfilled or the LPA considers it reasonable to permit further development to proceed."
Q8. Did you raise this issue earlier in the plan preparation process? - Yes
The concerns regarding timely delivery and more effective control over infrastructure delivery were raised in a letter from the Lichfield Civic Society dated 26th February 2011 on the draft Core Strategy. The majority of the points made in this representation were in that letter. We are not aware of the reason(s) why the Council rejected the request we made.
Q10. If you wish to participate at the examination in public, please outline why you consider this to be necessary.
Delays and failures in the delivery of infrastructure and the associated and still unresolved issues have been a cause of great concern in the community of the Darwin Park development of over 1200 houses. The need to ensure there is no repetition elsewhere is essential and requires the Council to indicate it will do this through a proactive approach and policy amendments in the Strategy.