North Dorset District Council: It’s a while since we’ve done one of these call to arms but the developing planning policy of North Dorset District Council warrants carefully attention and action where necessary. The headline is this: if you have a potential residential development site which doesn’t have planning consent within one of the current settlement boundaries of North Dorset EXCEPT Blandford Forum, Gillingham, Shaftesbury and Sturminster Newton then you need to get that planning permission secured NOW before the Council adopts its new Local Plan. After then getting planning permission for your site could be very uncertain indeed.
North Dorset are currently working on a replacement for their aging 2003 Local Plan – the “North Dorset Local Plan – 2011 to 2026 Part 1” . The current timetable has adoption in winter 2014 – this might be a bit optimistic but we need to assume it to be correct. The Council put out a draft for consultation earlier in the year which gives a strong indication of what they are thinking for the final document. There are two particular points of concern:
First there is the now default proposal to get rid of any affordable housing threshold – i.e. you contribute something towards affordable housing if there is any increase in housing numbers. At present North Dorset are applying an interim policy whereby increases of one or two dwellings get away without any contribution.
Second they are proposing to do away with development boundaries for all the settlements in the District except Blandford Forum, Gillingham, Shaftesbury and Sturminster Newton. The implications for the remaining settlements could be very significant. Here the focus will be on “meeting local needs” which will either be through Neighbourhood Plans alternatively communities can “opt in” to the Local Plan Part 2 that is a policy document which will be progressed after the Part 1 is adopted. In doing so they may have a settlement boundary reinstated and/or some residential development allocated. Both Neighbourhood Plans and the Part 2 are likely to take some time and the outcome is very uncertain. It is perfectly possible for some communities to say they don’t want new development at all or at least drag their heels over a few years.
If you want any certainty in these places then the answer is to seek a planning consent now. And you would be advised to act now to give enough lead time. So if this applies to you (and it won’t apply to many) then get in touch with us straightaway!