Solicitor Kayleigh Chapman, in our leading Planning & Environmental law team, outlines what Reading Borough Council's new Local Plan means for the region.
On 4 November 2019 Reading Borough Council adopted its new Local Plan. The Local Plan contains the planning policies which will govern development within the Borough up to 2036. The Local Plan replaces the following documents which used to form the development plan for the Borough:
- Core Strategy
- Reading Central Area Action Plan
- Sites and Detailed Policies Document
What does this mean?
Section 70(2) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 provides that when determining a planning application that a local planning authority “shall have regard to the provisions of the development plan, so far as material to the application, and to any other material considerations”. Section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 confirms that “if regard is to be had to the development plan for the purpose of a determination to be made under the planning Acts, the determination must be in accordance with the plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise”.
Essentially this means that planning applications should ensure that the development complies with the planning policies in the new Local Plan. There are of course questions of weight and other material considerations which might be relevant in the determination of an application but which are beyond the scope of this article.
The Local Plan
The Local Plan sets out the vision for development with the Reading Borough. The Local Plan now being one document (rather than 3!) should make it easier for developers to identify relevant planning policies for their development proposal.
Of particular note for residential developments is the Council’s approach to affordable housing (Policy H3), this policy will seek the following:
- On site provision of 30% Affordable Houses on developments of 10 or more homes;
- A financial contribution equivalent to 20% of the housing to be built on developments of 5-9 dwellings;
- a financial contribution equivalent to the provision of 10% of the number of houses to be provided in respect of developments of 1-4 dwellings
The Government has previously introduced a national policy advising that affordable housing should only be sought in respect of developments of 11 or more residential dwellings (major developments). The Inspectors who examined the Local Plan explained in their report that “there are a number of specific local circumstances in the case of Reading to support the proposed thresholds for sites of 1-4 and 5-9 dwellings and to justify a departure from national policy”.
Policy H3 does set out that there might be viability considerations which justify lowering the affordable housing contribution/provision, the onus being on the developer/landowner to demonstrate the circumstances that justify such an approach.
Another interesting policy is Policy H4 which is intended to address the growing trend of Build to Rent schemes. In Reading there are a number of Build to Rent schemes either currently in the process of being built or the subject of a planning application.
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This article is intended for the use of clients and other interested parties. The information contained in it is believed to be correct at the date of publication, but it is necessarily of a brief and general nature and should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional advice.