South Somerset Local Plan Review 2016-2036 Preferred Options Consultation (Regulation 18)

Comment ID 1702
Document Section South Somerset Local Plan Review 2016-2036 Preferred Options Consultation (Regulation 18) Introduction Duty to Co-operate and Statements of Common Ground Text Block View all on this section
Respondent Gladman (John Fleming) View all by this respondent
Response Date 17 Sep 2019
Attachments
Comment

The Duty to Cooperate (DtC) is a legal requirement established through section 33(A) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, as amended by Section 110 of the Localism Act. The DtC requires local planning authorities to engage constructively, actively and on an ongoing basis with neighbouring authorities on cross-boundary strategic issues through the process ongoing engagement and collaboration.

The NPPF (2018) had introduced a number of significant changes on how local planning authorities are expected to cooperate, including the preparation of Statement(s) of Common Ground (SOCG) which are required to demonstrate that a plan is based on effective cooperation and has been based on agreements made by neighbouring authorities where cross boundary strategic issues are likely to exist. The NPPF (2019) sets out that local planning authorities should produce, maintain, and update one or more SOCG, throughout the plan making process. The SOCG should provide a written record of the progress made by the strategic planning authorities during the process of planning for strategic cross-boundary matters and will need to demonstrate the lengths local authorities have taken to ensure cross boundary matters have been considered and what actions are required to ensure issues are proactively dealt with i.e. unmet housing needs.

As demonstrated through the outcome of the St. Albans Local Plan examination, if a Council fails to satisfactorily discharge its DtC a Planning Inspector must recommend non-adoption of the Plan. This legal test cannot be rectified through modifications.

Gladman recognise that the DtC is a process of ongoing engagement and collaboration, as set out in the PPG it is clear that the Duty is intended to produce effective policies on cross boundary strategic matters. In this regard, the Council must be able to demonstrate that it has engaged and worked with its neighbouring authorities, alongside their existing joint work arrangements, to satisfactorily address cross boundary strategic issues, and the requirement to meet any unmet housing needs. This is not simply an issue of consultation but a question of effective cooperation to ensure that the Housing Market Area’s (HMAs) housing needs are met in full.

Any issues of unmet housing need arising from relevant neighbouring local authorities must be fully considered through the preparation of the Local Plan, working under the auspices of the DtC and agreements and evidenced through SOCG. To achieve this, it is vital that this matter is carefully explored through joint working with all other local planning authorities within the HMA, together with any other relevant local authorities that the HMA has a clear functional relationship with. Where necessary, a strong policy mechanism will be required within the Local Plan to demonstrate that unmet housing needs arising from relevant neighbouring authorities and those with a clear functional relationship will be met during the plan period.

 

Whilst it is noted that the SSLP recognises the need to ensure effective cooperation takes place it is unclear whether any SOCG have been prepared thus far or whether any cross boundary strategic issues, such as unmet housing needs, have been discussed with neighbouring authorities.

Gladman reserve the right to provide further comments in relation to this matter once this evidence becomes available for consultation.