Bluntisham Parish Council Statement – Change to HDC Local Plan 2036
In the summer of 2017 HDC, put out to consultation their proposed new Local Plan 2036 document. This plan lays out their proposed house building criteria for the next 20 years.
Within this original Local Plan 2036 Bluntisham was defined as a Small Settlement. Huntingdonshire District Council’s (HDC) definition of a small settlement is:
LP 10 Small Settlements Each Small Settlement to which this policy applies is defined:
Development Proposals within the Built-up Area
A proposal that is located within a built-up area of a Small Settlement will be supported where the amount and location of development proposed is sustainable in relation to the: a. level of service and infrastructure provision within the settlement;
- opportunities for users of the proposed development to access everyday services and facilities by sustainable modes of travel including walking, cycling and public transport;
- effect on the character of the immediate locality and the settlement as a whole.
Development Proposals on Land well-related to the Built-up Area.
A proposal for development on land well-related to the built up area will be supported where it accords with the specific opportunities allowed for through other policies of this plan.
In 2017 as you are probably aware a large new housing development was proposed on Colne Road and a planning application was submitted. Also in May 2017 another large scale application for 30 houses on Station Road was submitted on land that had been designated as suitable for rural exception, another application will be submitted for 20 houses at the top of Wood End, again on a rural exception site. However, under the auspices of the new Local Plan 2036 had Bluntisham remained a Small Settlement. Granting any large scale developments, that didn’t comply with the planning rules for rural exception sites and small settlements, would have proven difficult to gain permission under HDC’s planning guidelines.
In November 2017 a decision was made by HDC Development Management Panel, (the people who make the rules) that that changes were needed and they commissioned a new Infrastructure Development plan. We are lead to understand that the reason for this, is that the proposed large scale development of up to 1750 homes at RAF Wyton was rejected due to lack of suitable infrastructure. Consequently, new areas on which to build needed to be found and existing sites increased in numbers. This new plan added another tier to the Local Plan 2036 – Local Service Centre. This new level has been defined by HDC as follows:
There are a number of large villages, outside of spatial planning areas, that offer a range of services and facilities to meet the daily needs of their residents and to some extent the residents of other villages nearby. The local service centres contain a lower level of service provision than the key service centres but all offer at least: primary school, public house, doctor’s surgery, convenience shop and a public hall.
Bluntisham was added to this group and as such HDC planning guidelines change significantly:
LP 9 Local Service Centres Each Local Service Centre to which this policy applies
Development Proposals within the Built-up Area
A proposal for development on a site which is additional to those allocated in this plan will be supported where it is located within a built-up area of a Local Service Centre.
Development Proposals on Land well-related to the Built-up Area
A proposal for development on land well-related to the built-up area may be supported where it accords with the specific opportunities allowed for through other policies of this plan.
At no stage were Bluntisham Parish Council consulted or made aware of the proposed changes to the new Local Plan 2036. The first mention of this change was made by our two District Councillors during the Parish Council meeting on December 6th 2017. The new Local Plan 2036 was approved by HDC on December 13th 2017, including the proposed changes.
Our District Councillors both opposed this change, however at the full council meeting in December 13th 2017 the District Council voted unanimously to approve this new Local Plan 2036 including the change to Bluntisham’s status to a local service centre. This plan has gone to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to assess its “soundness” and to ultimately approve this new version of the Local Plan 2036.
This in effect means that HDC have changed the planning guidelines for Bluntisham and potentially can approve all applications for large scale development within the village. The new plan earmarks us for an additional 179 houses in the next five years alone.
Bluntisham Parish Council strongly opposes this change in status and feels that the justifications for the change are not sound and it will mean that our village, potentially, will become vastly over developed.
The Parish Council recognises the need for affordable housing in the village and accepts that with that, comes the need to provide market houses at the same time. However the Parish Council believes that any such new developments need to be in line with the existing character and setting of the village and be of a scale in keeping with the guidelines set out for small settlements in the Local Plan 2036.
A very small window of opportunity exists to comment on the soundness of this plan. This window closes on 22nd January 2018. Bluntisham Parish Council will be writing to HDC, our MP, other local MP’s, and directly to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to make our opposition clear and request that our small settlement status be reinstated in the Local Plan 2036.
We are writing to every household to ensure that they are aware of this change and the implications of it and ask that if you wish to send a duplicate of our letter in opposition yourselves or add yourself as a signatory to our letter then please let us know by contacting the Clerk or one of the Parish Councillors.
More reading and other documents can be found here.