VALP Frequently Asked Questions - Part 1

Draft Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan

What is a local plan?
Why does Aylesbury Vale need a local plan?
Why can’t neighbouring authorities meet their own housing needs?
Why do we have to take the unmet housing need from neighbouring authorities?
At what point can we say ‘no’ to accepting neighbouring authorities unmet housing need ?
Why do we need a new settlement?
Why are Haddenham and Winslow being considered for a new settlement?
Why are we proposing that Aylesbury becomes a Garden Town?
What happens if Aylesbury doesn’t get Garden Town status?
Are there other, better, sites that should be allocated?
What happens if enough suitable sites cannot be found in a village?
Are starter homes likely to be included in VALP?  How will this change the amount of affordable housing needed?
Does VALP override a Neighbourhood Plan?
What about roads?  We need a bypass around Aylesbury.
What about jobs?
Brexit must mean that we need fewer new homes now?
Where are the consultation documents available?
Why are you proposing to release a green belt site at Wendover (particularly when the neighbouring authorities are asking us to take their growth because of the green belt)?
What about infrastructure?
How do I get an audio version or translation of the draft plan?

Q. What is a local plan?

A. A Local Plan lets the council say where new development to meet the needs of the area should happen, which areas should be protected from development and how new development should be designed. A map shows the areas to be developed and the areas to be protected, and policies are included to guide the design of new development.

Q. Why does Aylesbury Vale need a local plan?

A. All councils are required to produce a local plan by Government’s legislation, but even without that requirement it is better to have a plan to give certainty about where development will go and allow infrastructure to be planned for. Without a plan, development might happen anywhere and infrastructure might not arrive until much later.

Q. Why can’t neighbouring authorities meet their own housing needs?

A. The districts to the south of Aylesbury Vale (Wycombe, Chiltern and South Bucks) have identified a collective unmet need of 12,000 homes.  These districts are highly constrained by national designations of Green Belt and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and so their available land for housing does not match their need.

We have, and will continue to, closely scrutinise the housing capacity assessments that the above councils are working to, but this draft plan has to proceed in a timely manner, and as such we have to proceed based on the best assumptions we have at the time.

Q. Why do we have to take the unmet housing need from neighbouring authorities?

A. The council has a formal ‘duty to co-operate’ with other councils (and other relevant bodies) over strategic issues that cross our boundaries.  This includes housing and employment growth.

Government planning policy (set out in paragraph 182 of the National Planning Policy Framework) states that the plan should be based on a strategy to meet unmet housing needs where it is reasonable to do so, and where it is consistent with the aims of achieving sustainable development.  This is one of the tests that the plan will be assessed against at the independent examination.

Q. At what point can we say ‘no’ to accepting neighbouring authorities unmet housing need ?

A. We would need to be able to demonstrate why accommodating that level of unmet need would not be sustainable.  For example, we would need to have evidence to show that this level of development is not deliverable and / or that we do not have sufficient suitable sites to meet this housing requirement.

<Q. Why do we need a new settlement?

A. Due to the high level of growth we need to accommodate we need to look at all options. The draft Plan is consulting on the option of including a new settlement and making provision for 4,500 homes. By allocating growth as a ‘new settlement’ and developing a significant level of development at one location, this enables the growth to make associated infrastructure provision for example transport, and secondary education.

Q. Why are Haddenham and Winslow being considered for a new settlement?

A. We employed consultants GL Hearn to review options for a new settlement across the District. The first stage involved looking at constraints and opportunities. This identified 11 potential locations for further investigation: Haddenham, Winslow, Turweston, North Granborough, Cheddington, Waddesdon, Doddershall, Stewkley, Steeple Claydon, Marsh Gibbon, Oakley, Arncott.

A survey was undertaken of the 11 locations and a more detailed review of opportunities and constraints, reviewing road and public transport connections, deliverability, services and infrastructure. Of the 11 locations, Winslow and Haddenham were identified as performing the highest and taken forward for further analysis. There is still a need to undertake further work to look more closely at both potential growth locations through sustainability analysis, concept master planning work, infrastructure analysis (including transport modelling) and community consultation

Q. Why are we proposing that Aylesbury becomes a Garden Town?

A. In March 2016 the government issued a prospectus for locally led garden villages, towns and cities and encouraged councils to bid for funding to support delivery of ambitious local proposals. AVDC have had initial discussions with the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) about bidding for Aylesbury to become a Garden Town and will be submitting a bid over the summer. A successful bid is likely to provide additional funding to support delivery of homes and infrastructure at Aylesbury.

Q. What happens if Aylesbury doesn’t get Garden Town status?

A. Even if we are not successful in a bid for Aylesbury to become a Garden Town, Aylesbury is still identified as a location for significant levels of growth in the Draft Plan – around 14,000 new homes by 2033. Aylesbury will still be taken through detailed infrastructure and master planning work, and delivery of growth will be supported by policies within the Draft Local Plan.

<Q. Are there other, better, sites that should be allocated?

A. All sites that have been promoted to us have been assessed for their suitability, and some sites have been assessed as being unsuitable for various reasons including flood risk, landscape impact and highways issues. The Plan only proposes to allocate suitable sites.

Q. What happens if enough suitable sites cannot be found in a village?

A. We know that in some villages there is currently a shortfall of suitable sites compared to the housing requirement.  As part of the background work for the next stage of the plan, we will be trying to find enough suitable sites to meet the housing requirement. 

This will involve working with Parish Councils and Neighbourhood Planning groups, and officers will carry out full site assessments of each village where there is a shortfall.  If sufficient sites cannot be identified, the housing requirement for that location will have to be reduced accordingly and unmet requirements will not be transferred to other locations.

Q.   Are starter homes likely to be included in VALP?  How will this change the amount of affordable housing needed?

A.   Starter homes will have to be included in VALP but the government hasn’t told us exactly how this will happen yet. We have asked our consultants to tell us how the provision of starter homes will impact on affordable housing and the plan will reflect their advice.

Q. Does VALP override a Neighbourhood Plan?

A. No, ‘made’ neighbourhood plans are part of the development plan, which is the basis for planning decisions.  ‘Made’ neighbourhood plans will not replace the local plan, but will sit alongside it, with their non-strategic policies applying ahead of similar policies in the local plan. Housing numbers will need to increase though to match the strategic requirements of the district.

<Q. What about roads?  We need a bypass around Aylesbury.

A. We are working with Buckinghamshire County Council as highways authority to address this issue.  Traffic modelling has been undertaken at key locations in the district to determine what impact the proposed developments could have, and what mitigation measures may be required to ensure that traffic impacts are minimised.  A specific Aylesbury Transport Strategy is also being prepared.

Q. What about jobs?

A. Employment sites are usually provided by new allocations in the local plan to meet the forecast requirement.  However, our evidence shows that our forecast requirement is 22 hectares of industrial land, but we already have over 70 hectares of industrial land with planning permission or in a ‘made’ neighbourhood plan. Other forms of employment will however be needed and more land will be needed to support unmet housing need.

Q. Brexit must mean that we need fewer new homes now?

A. National planning guidance tells us that our housing requirement should be based on household projections produced by the Department of Communities and Local Government.  It may be that, in the future, these projections change as a result of Brexit, but for now, we have to proceed based on the published evidence. However, the latest population forecasts will be used as the basis for the final VALP.

Q. Where are the consultation documents available?

A. All consultation documents are available on our website.  The draft plan and background evidence are available to view at the council’s office at the Gateway, Aylesbury. We are taking copies of these documents along to each of our exhibitions too. Alternatively, the draft plan is available to view at all libraries including mobile libraries in the district.

Q. Why are you allocating these Gypsy and Traveller sites?

A. Government guidance sets out that councils should assess and meet Gypsy, Traveller and Travelling Showpeople’s accommodation needs in the same way that we are required to provide for other accommodation needs, including the identification of land for sites. Romany Gypsies and Irish Travellers form an ethnic minority group and are legally protected from discrimination under the Equalities Act 2014, the Children and Families Act 2014 and the Human Rights Act 1998. We are required to assess their accommodation needs and set out a pitch target using that evidence, then we need to demonstrate how we can meet that need in order to achieve a sound Local Plan.

Our latest Gypsy and Traveller and Travelling Showpeople Accommodation Needs Assessment showed we need to provide another 57 permanent pitches. The potential options for accommodating were assessed in the Gypsy and Traveller Site Assessment report. The most suitable of these sites have been proposed as allocations.

Q. Why are you proposing to release a green belt site at Wendover (particularly when the neighbouring authorities are asking us to take their growth because of the green belt)?

A. The whole of the Green Belt within Buckinghamshire is being assessed as part of the emerging Local Plans for each of the districts. Part 1 was undertaken jointly by a consultant on behalf of the authorities and Part 2 is being undertaken by each district. There is a high housing requirement across the county and large amounts of land are designated as Green Belt constraining where this housing can go. This is the case around Wendover where the capacity found in the latest HELAA for housing is only 36 dwellings until 2033. Without also looking at a potential release of land from the Green Belt, this represents a very small percentage increase in dwellings, smaller than that in the smaller village category, and would not meet the needs of the community.

The areas of land proposed for release have been assessed against the purposes of the Green Belt and are considered to perform weakly.

Q. What about infrastructure?

A. We are taking all possible steps to ensure that new infrastructure, like roads, schools and doctor’s surgeries, all arrive  alongside new housing development. Whilst AVDC is not the responsible body in most cases, we are working closely with all providers, such as the County Council for roads and schools, to inform them of what’s coming and are making arrangements to ensure its delivery.  An Infrastructure Delivery Plan showing the new infrastructure that will be required is currently being prepared, which will inform the final Plan. Where necessary new housing will be phased to ensure infrastructure is planned for when it is needed.

Q. How do I get an audio version or translation of the draft plan?

A. More information is available on our website. Complete the 'Got a question' form with your request, and we’ll get back to you

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