A plan that outlines the blueprint for development and how and where it can and cannot happen on Dartmoor is now in force.
Daniel Clark www.devonlive.com
The Dartmoor Local Plan earlier this year was submitted for formal examination in and March a series of virtual hearings took place to assess the soundness of the plan.
The new Local Plan, which takes effect immediately, aims to conserves and enhances the National Park’s ‘Special Qualities’, and protects special areas and features within it from harmful development.
It also decides the type and amount of development required to meet the needs of Dartmoor’s communities and businesses and identifies where development can take place.
Following the initial hearings, various amendments to the plan were suggested, the most substantial being the change in allocation of a site in Buckfastleigh from Holne Road to Timbers Road.
The plan, which give opportunities to meet identified local housing needs, allocates land for around 60 per cent of the indicative housing delivery figure of 65 dwellings per year the National Park needs.
Dan Janota, Dartmoor National Park’s head of forward planning and economy, told a meeting of the Dartmoor National Park Authority on Friday that the Local Plan must strike a balance in the best interests of the National Park as a whole.
His recommendation to accept the Inspector’s Report on the examination of the Dartmoor Local Plan and to adopt the Local Plan 2018-2036 as amended with immediate effect was unanimously supported by the Authority.
It means that any application to the National Park that lands in the inbox as of 12pm on Friday must now comply with the new policies the plan outlines.
Mr Janota said: “There is more evidence behind this Local Plan than any other in the past. The allocated housing development is to meet the target of 65 a year in the Local Plan.
“I hope it is a local plan you take ownership of and policies that you can get behind for the Park, and if there is no environmental or community benefit or no affordable housing, we are in a strong position to say no and tell them to come back and make it better.”
The adoption of the Local Plan will bring in a number of new policy provisions, including:
· A new three tier settlement hierarchy, with settlement boundaries in the Rural Settlements
· Allocated sites for housing development in the Local Centres
· A new ‘local occupancy custom and self-build’ policy
· A revised definition of a ‘local person’ to support those working in the National Park
· Requirements for electric vehicle charging points, ahead of the government provisions
· Higher standards for energy efficiency in new buildings, ahead of the government provisions
· A requirement for all new homes to meet higher levels of accessibility and adaptability
· Limitations to the size of extensions in order to prevent the loss of smaller more affordable homes
· A requirement for development to deliver biodiversity net gain, ahead of the government provisions
· Opportunities for new homes on farms through conversion of traditional buildings
The strategy of the Local Plans says that development is focussed upon protecting the National Park’s Special Qualities, whilst meeting the needs of its communities. Development should maximise the use of brownfield land and existing buildings.
“Major development will not take place in the National Park other than in exceptional circumstances. Housing and employment development will take place in the most sustainable settlements, where the mix of people, homes, jobs and infrastructure make for the most efficient use of resources, minimising our impact on climate change,” it adds.
“Most development will take place in Local Centres, the largest and most sustainable settlements in the National Park, where land is allocated to meet identified local need for affordable housing, employment uses, or opportunities for regeneration.
“In Rural Settlements, Dartmoor’s larger villages, development may come forward at a smaller scale, in order to meet identified housing, employment and infrastructure needs for that community and where there are specific redevelopment opportunities.
“In Villages and Hamlets, the National Park’s smallest and most sensitive villages, only small scale affordable housing development or small scale business growth is appropriate. Outside classified settlements development will principally support the needs of farming, forestry and other rural land-based enterprises, where it can be shown that it needs to take place in the open countryside.”
The Local Plan cannot force development to go ahead as this is decided by land owners and developers, and influenced by economic conditions, prevent businesses, schools, hospitals or other services from closing, control things which are not ‘development’, or please everyone, all of the time.
WHAT IS IN THE LOCAL PLAN?
The focus of housing development in Dartmoor National Park is the delivery of affordable, well designed, efficient homes to meet the needs of local people. Market housing will support the delivery of affordable housing, it should also respond to the needs of local people in terms of size, mix and tenure. Around 65 new homes will be built in the National Park each year.
WHERE SHOULD DEVELOPMENT TAKE PLACE?
- An area of land at Longstone Cross is allocated for residential development of to provide around 40 homes with 100 per cent affordable housing. Development of this site should come forward only in response to an identified affordable housing need.
- An area of land a Chuley Road is identified for redevelopment for mixed use. Within this area, development will be approved where it is informed by and responds to the local need for affordable housing, the economic vibrancy of the area, traffic movement, and public and private parking needs and opportunities to conserve and enhance the sites’ railway heritage.
- An area of land at Barn Park is allocated for residential development to provide around 26 homes, of which not less than 45 per cent must be affordable housing to meet identified local needs. Development should come forward only in response to an identified affordable housing need.
- An area of land at Timbers Road is allocated for development: Parcel A is allocated to provide around 70 homes, of which not less than 45 per cent must be affordable housing to meet identified local needs, and Parcel B is allocated for the delivery of appropriate highway improvement works to access Plymouth Road
- An area of land at Lamb Park, Chagford, is allocated for residential development of around 36 homes, of which not less than 45 per cent must be affordable housing to meet identified local needs. Development should come forward only in response to an identified affordable housing need. Development of this site should include an element of affordable and local needs custom and self-build housing.
- An area of land at the Crannafords employment area, Chagford, is allocated for non-town centre uses Development of this site must deliver appropriate highway access improvements, enhance the quality of the built environment and public realm of the Crannafords employment area and enable the delivery of improved cycle and pedestrian access to Chagford.
- An area of land at New Park, Horrabridge is allocated for residential development of around 35 homes, of which not less than 45 per cent must be affordable housing to meet identified local needs. Development should come forward only in response to an identified affordable housing need and development on this site must make an appropriate on or off-site contribution towards local sports and play provision
- An area of land at Betton Way is allocated for residential development of around 18 homes, of which not less than 45 per cent must be affordable housing to meet identified local needs. Development should come forward only in response to an identified affordable housing need and development of this site should include an element of local needs custom and self-build housing.
- An area of land at Forder Farm is allocated for residential development of around 30 homes, of which not less than 45 per cent must be affordable housing to meet identified local needs.
- An area of land at the Thompson’s Haulage depot at Station Road is allocated for residential development of around 26 homes, of which not less than 45 per cent must be affordable housing to meet identified local needs. Development of this site should conserve and enhance the site’s railway heritage, sensitively incorporating the goods shed and platform and provide a link to the Wray Valley Trail.
- Any proposals for the development of Dartmoor Prison must be comprehensive, informed by and delivered in accordance with a Masterplan for the entire site. A Masterplan for the site should be prepared in association with the local community, relevant stakeholders and the Authority and be informed by comprehensive consultation and engagement.
- Two areas of land at Palstone Lane are allocated for community-led affordable and local needs custom and self-build housing of around 49 homes, of which not less than 45 per cent must be affordable housing to meet identified local needs.
- An area of land at Fairfield is allocated for residential development of around 36 homes, of which not less than 45 per cent must be affordable housing to meet identified local needs.
- An area of land at Station Yard is identified to safeguard the opportunity for a new railway station at South Brent and associated car park.
- An area of land at Elfordtown is allocated for residential development of around 40 homes, of which not less than 45 per cent must be affordable housing to meet identified local needs.
- An area of land at Binkham Hill is allocated for residential development of around 41 homes, of which not less than 45 per cent must be affordable housing to meet identified local needs. Development of this site should include landscaping to the south and east of the site, provide a link to the Drake’s Trail and include delivery of appropriate highway improvements to access Dousland Road.
- Special constraints will apply to development proposals within the historic residential core of Yelverton. Subdivision and development of typically large plots in this location will not be permitted.
- An area of land at the former Axminster Carpets works is identified for mixed use redevelopment to meet identified local needs. Development may include a mix of around 40 homes using, including an element of affordable housing and local needs custom and self build housing, commercial uses comprising principally business and industrial uses, financial and professional services, and assembly and leisure uses, and a mix of residential care and appropriate uses, including an element of affordable housing
- Land at Warren Road, Mary Tavy is allocated as a site for a new village primary school.
- To improve the character and appearance of the centre of Mary Tavy, two sites totalling 0.5ha are allocated for mixed-use development incorporating around 19 homes, including not less than 45 per cent affordable housing to meet local needs, parking provision to serve the village and public amenity space.
- Within the South Zeal Conservation Area, development will not be permitted where this would cause harm to or affect the significance or setting of burgage plots
In the rural settlements of Belstone, Bittaford, Bridford, Cheriton Cross/Bishop, Christow, Cornwood, Dean/Dean Prior, Dousland, Drewsteignton, Dunsford, Hennock, Holne, Ilsington, Liverton, Lustleigh, Lydford, Manaton, Meavy, North Bovey, North Brentor, Peter Tavy, Postbridge, Scoriton, Shaugh Prior, Sourton, South Tawton, Sticklepath, Throwleigh, Walkhampton, Whiddon Down and Widecombe-in-the-Moo r, development may come forward at a small scale, in order to meet identified housing, employment and infrastructure needs for that community and where there are specific redevelopment opportunities.
In Villages and Hamlets, the National Park’s smallest and most sensitive villages, only small scale affordable housing development or small scale business growth is appropriate.
In these settlements the priorities are to give opportunities to meet identified local housing needs, to maintain and improve existing employment sites and to sustain a range of services and facilities which serve the settlement.
Businesses which respect and value Dartmoor’s Special Qualities will have the opportunity to thrive and innovate in the National Park.
New business and tourism development will be permitted within and adjoining Local Centres and Rural Settlements where it is of an appropriate scale and use.
In the Villages and Hamlets and open countryside expansion of existing businesses will be supported.
New tourist accommodation should be located within Local Centres and Rural Settlements.
In the Villages and Hamlets and open countryside new short-stay accommodation should be located close to tourist services and be provided through conversion of suitable historic building.
Cultural and artistic proposals will be supported where they actively pursue National Park purposes.
‘Major Development’ is development which has the potential to have a significant adverse impact on the Special Qualities of the National Park, such as its dark night skies, landscape character, heritage significance, biodiversity, tranquillity and others.
Planning permission will not be granted for Major Development other than in exceptional circumstances, and where it can be demonstrated that the development is in the public interest, outweighing National Park purpose
As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, combined with the popularity of internet shopping, there has been significant strain put on shopping areas, and in September 2020 the Government responded to this and long-standing calls for greater flexibility by changing the Use Class Order and combining many previously distinct town centre uses into one use class (Class E).
This change means that changes between retail, restaurant, office, light industrial, clinic, health centre, indoor recreation and other uses do not generally require planning permission, unless conditions on a planning consent control approved uses.
This change significantly effects how local planning policies operate to protect and enhance town centres, for example it is not now possible to protect retail as a distinct use from other town centre uses, which had been a draft proposal as part of the local plan.
Within Local Centres and Rural Settlements planning permission will be granted for new small-scale hotels and guesthouses, or extensions to hotels and guesthouses and new short-stay tourist accommodation provided through conversion, including suitable redundant historic buildings
Within Villages and Hamlets and the open countryside, planning permission will only be granted for new short-stay tourist accommodation where it is well related to tourist services
New short-stay holiday accommodation will be subject to conditions to ensure it is occupied for holiday purposes only and not as a person’s sole or main residence and the owner/operator maintains an up to date register of the names and main home addresses of all occupiers and this information is available to the Authority on request.
In order to minimise the impact on climate change, and promote healthy lifestyles, new development should encourage and enable sustainable travel by protecting, enhancing and providing new walking, cycling, and sustainable transport routes.
Development should support a network of walking and cycling routes which are safe, convenient, and connect to local services, facilities and sustainable transport links. Opportunities for sustainable transport development which meets the needs of the National Park will be supported.
Development which would prejudice the ability to deliver future sustainable travel and transport infrastructure will not be approved.
Planning permission will be granted for development to support farm diversification enterprises where they are located on an established and active farm, support and add value to a farm business which contributes to the conservation and/or enhancement of the National Park’s Special Qualities, are ancillary and subordinate in scale to the farm business and make use of redundant buildings before proposing new buildings
New telecommunications infrastructure will only be permitted where evidence demonstrates the service cannot be delivered less harmfully by installing equipment on existing masts, buildings or other structures, the equipment is located and designed to minimise its impact and the equipment does not cause substantial harm to the character and appearance of the built environment and/or the National Park’s Special Qualities.
A condition will be applied requiring removal of all telecommunications structures and equipment and the reinstatement of the site to its former condition should the development become redundant
WHAT IS THE VISION?
When planning for Dartmoor’s future the Local Plan seeks to ensure development is environmentally, socially and economically sustainable. To achieve this, the Dartmoor Local Plan must balance the needs of people, communities, businesses, and the natural and historic environment in a way which is appropriate for an internationally important landscape and national asset.
There is access to well-designed, energy efficient and affordable housing for those who contribute to Dartmoor’s thriving communities.
A place to do business
Businesses which respect, value and contribute to Dartmoor’s Special Qualities have the opportunity to thrive and innovate.
Sustainability – living within environmental limits
Dartmoor’s natural resources are conserved and there are opportunities for innovation in the way in which we live and work which allow us to achieve and maintain an environmental, social and economic balance and reduce minimise our contribution to climate change.
Making best use of resources
Dartmoor’s land, resources and buildings are used efficiently, effectively and sustainably. Development prioritises previously developed land and minimises empty homes.
Culture and arts
The National Park’s Special Qualities provide a continual source of inspiration and are celebrated in culture and the arts.
Exemplars for outstanding development
All new development has a character which respects local distinctiveness, vernacular and materials, and leads the way on sustainable building.
Community involvement and participation
Dartmoor is a place where people work together with a collective goal to respect and protect the National Park, and to promote and embrace positive change.
Prosperous and vibrant communities
Dartmoor’s towns and villages provide opportunities for communities to thrive.
Farming, forestry and land management
Farming and forestry have the opportunity to evolve and innovate, sustaining their vital role in conserving and enhancing Dartmoor’s distinctive cultural heritage, internationally significant landscape and precious biodiversity.
Dartmoor’s nationally important landscape character is conserved and enhanced. Its wider landscape setting is respected.
Thriving habitats and species
A cohesive network of habitats allows species to thrive and be resilient to climate change.
An historic environment in excellent condition
Dartmoor’s cultural heritage, archaeology and historic built environment is understood, protected and available as a source of inspiration and education. Development delivers significant enhancements, including through appropriate re-use.
Opportunities for access and enjoyment
Dartmoor’s Special Qualities are respected, available as a resource for health and well-being, and accessible for everyone to understand and enjoy. Development helps manage visitor impacts in a way which protects the National Park for the benefit of future generations.