On 8 December 2020, St Albans District and City Council provided the Planning Policy Committee with the relevant background for consideration in setting the new Local Plan Vision and to receive comments from the Committee.
The new Local Plan will replace the District Local Plan Review 1994. Part of the process of producing a Local Plan includes preparing a vision for the District and how it should be developed over the lifetime of the Plan.
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF 2019), sets out that Local Plans ‘should provide a positive vision for the future of each area” under Paragraph 15. The NPPG Reiterates this by stating that Local Plans should “set out a vision and a framework for the future development of the area…”
The previous draft Local Plan 2020-2036 has now been withdrawn after a Planning Inspector found it to be unsound as a result of the Council failure of the Duty to Cooperate with neighbouring LPA’s. It contained the following vision, which requires re-consideration in the new context:
“A thriving community, which is a great place to live and work and has a vibrant economy”.
However, the current Corporate Plan Vision (2019) set out:
“Our vision is a vibrant economy; a thriving community; a great place to live and work; and a cost-effective Council.
St Albans District and City Council in arriving at the current vision plan, had considered some other Planning Authorities vision Plans such as the Oxford City Council’s vision plan with the most recently adopted Local Plan under the 2019 NPPF. This has the following vision:
“Oxford’s Local Plan vision is linked to the City Council’s Oxford’s Vision 2050. Vision 2050 brings together people’s aspirations and hopes for the city in the future. In that vision Oxford will be a global centre for the knowledge-based economy, and all residents will benefit from the strong economy. Deprivation and inequality will be reduced, Oxford’s diverse communities will have a strong sense of togetherness and people will be able to live fulfilled, happy and healthy lives. Oxford will be an affordable place to live. It will also have an attractive, clean and healthy environment, where heritage and the natural environment are protected.
The Oxford Local Plan 2036 looks ahead 20 years and beyond, giving consideration to how it can best address the pressures and challenges Oxford faces. Oxford will continue to grow and develop. This growth will be associated with a liveable and sustainable environment that balances economic, social and environmental needs, ensuring that the city remains a highly desirable place to live, work and visit.”
The Council also looked at South Oxfordshire District Council’s Local Plan which is currently in examination and its vision is that:
“South Oxfordshire will remain a beautiful and prosperous place to live. It will be attractive place for people to work and spend their leisure time”.
The Council had demonstrated with the different visions of the two Councils above that there is no one way of approaching a Local Plan Vision and that the previous approach taken by the Council was similar to that of South Oxfordshire District Council.
Regarding Community Engagement, there has been some relatively recently planning matters on the South West Hertfordshire geography which provided some interesting context and can be found in the South-West Herts Joint Strategic Plan Initial Engagement results of July 2020. As set out in the Work Program on the Agenda, the February 2021 Planning Policy Committee (PPC) meeting is due to consider the potential Local Plan Vision, Objectives and Sustainability Appraisal (SA) objectives (another item on the Agenda sets out that the Sustainability Appraisal Scoping consultation is intended to have commenced by February PPC). The Council stated that, since the previous Local Plan was developed there have been number of areas including Climate Change and Health which have received a new focus.