1.1.What Habton wants:
We want to see the LDF modified in a way which will enable consideration to be given for further natural growth in our village
1.2 The context is important. There is a cascade of planning documents and the RCS has to comply with Government and Regional Planning documents and advice. The RCS can only be declared to be “sound” if it complies with these documents.
1.3 It also follows that there are several options which could satisfy the requirements of these documents, and it is a local decision to come up with any number of options for consultation purposes.
1.4 Councillor Andrews has spoken to the Regional Office in Leeds. They have referred to Policy YH6 of the draft RSS (the latest version of which is due for public consultation in September - for 3 months consultation). This says:
1.4.1 "Across the Region's rural areas, principal service centres will be the main local focus" for housing employment and other land uses.
1.5 Councillor Andrews was told that Malton/Norton is a "principal service centre", but that it is a local decision as to what percentage of new development is required to satisfy the "main local focus" criterion - although, of course, this would have to be substantial.
1.6 Although there is a “background document” (known as Background Document 4) to the RSS which suggests that 50% of all new development in Ryedale should be built in Malton/Norton, we are advised that the statement in the background document in regard to the percentage of housing to be provided in Malton/Norton is NOT POLICY and neither this document nor any percentage figure has been put forward for public consultation before now.
1.7 In his decision letter on the EIP into the Core Strategy (para.10.9) which he conducted at hearings in July and November 2006, the Inspector says:
1.7.1“ Background papers for the RSS EIP [CD29a] suggest that Malton/Norton is expected to accommodate at least half of the District’s total housing provision, but there is little independent evidence to fully justify this figure and there has been no general assessment of whether this level of provision could be accommodated at this market town.”
1.8 We understand that “BackgroundDocument 4” and the document referred to by the Inspector as CD 29a are the same document. We attach email correspondence with GOYH, which confirms the view that the percentages for housing prescribed in this document are neither policy nor are they binding on the Council. In our view, the Inspector made it clear in his decision letter that these figures should not be accepted without further evidence on the matters which he pointed out to the Council.
1.9 To date we have not seen any publication by the Council of the evidence the Inspector suggested the Council should provide. Instead the Council simply say on Page14 of the Consultation Document:
1.10 “Approach 1 ……………………Under this scenario Malton and Norton would accommodate at least 50% of the District’s new housing. Any figure lower than this would not be in line with Regional Policy…………”
1.11 We believe this statement is incorrect and misleading. We believe the Council have clearly not understood or taken into account the Inspector’s views, but have simply reacted against them in a negative and unhelpful way. The latest Council document would seem to contain very little in the way of a cure to the defects identified by the Inspector, and, if carried forward into a further draft plan, we find it hard to see how that plan might not also de found to be unsound.,
1.12 We also understand that there is nothing in the RSS which requires village development limits to be thrown away, nor is there anything which requires development within villages to be limited by conditions regarding local connection.
1.13In other words, provided a very substantial amount of new development takes place in Malton/Norton, there could be a whole range of options each of which could satisfy the government’s test of soundness, including 30%, 40%, 50% or even 60/70% of new housing in Malton/Norton, and including allowing new development within some existing or new village envelopes – with or without service villages.
1.14 It is true that the RSS does contain a very short text which suggests that “the majority” of new development should be concentrated within principal service centres. However this is heavily qualified and stated as an example. Moreover, it is in general terms and, refers to Principal Service Centres in the plural and therefore assumes that there COULD be more than a single service centre in a district in an LDF. It makes no specific reference to Ryedale or Malton/Norton. It is not a statement of policy,but an explanation of how policy MIGHT be applied.. Further, there is some doubt as to how the word “the majority” should be interpreted in the context.
1.15In our view, this text should not be treated as though it is a policy written in tablets of stone, as taken to its logical conclusion, it could lead to the absurd result that, say in the Harrogate District, 50% of all new development should be in the principal service centre, namely Harrogate, when there are several other substantial towns in the Harrogate District.
1.16 Further, the RSS is in draft form at the moment; the correspondence with Region referred to above and attached makes no reference to this passage, which suggests that GOYH also take the view that the value of this text is explanatory only and an example, and does not have the binding force of policy.
1.17 Further, if this text was in place at the EIP in November last year, the Inspector will have taken it into account in his decision letter, when he made it clear that the principle that 50% of all new development should be in Norton/Malton should not be accepted without further evidence on the matters he specified.
1.18 In the absence of such evidence, we would maintain that the statement in the consultation Document that Regional Policy requires that 50% of all new development should be in Malton/Norton is incorrect and misleading.
2 Further, we understand that one of the purposes of the Council’s desire to concentrate 50% of new development in Malton/Norton is to enable developer contributions to be obtained to road junction improvements at Brambling Fields and Muesley Bank. We think this coul create difficulties for Malton and its surrounding villages for the following reasons:
2.1 There are issues regarding infrastructure, including schools and land drainage, particularly as much of the proposed development will be on the flood plain;
2.2 There is no guaranty that the Highways Agency will implement or permit to be implemented a scheme which, in their opinion, has no benefit to their interest in the A64;
2.3 Even if the Highways Agency does cooperate, there is a question as to when work will begin – how bad does traffic in Malton have to get before sufficient funds are available to do the work?
2.4 There are questions regarding the cost of the schemes. We are told an appropriate scheme would cost £3M. All that is needed at Brambling Fields is a new sliproad on the North going carriageway. We are astonished that it should be thought to cost £3M to build a single slip road, even if there will have to be ancillary work. Enquiries have been made of the County Council (copy annexed), from which it is clear that no scheme has been costed to date. So we would suggest the costs are uncertain.
2.5 Para. 6.5 of the Draft supplementary guidance on Developer Contributions towards Strategic Transport Improvements at Malton and Norton requires developer contributions to be returned if they are not used within 10 years. This means that, if the highway improvements are not carried out, the new houses will still be there, and the traffic problems of Malton/Norton will be considerably worse than at present, and there will be no money to sort things out.
2.6 So we think that the Council is taking a serious risk with the people of Malton and its surroundings and the environment within Malton if it relies too much on developer contributions to fund junction improvements on the A64.
The Examination in Public and the Inspector’s decision:
3. The RSC was examined in public at two hearings in July and November 2006. At the hearing in July, Councillor Andrews made a written submission which was agreed by Habton Council. A copy of this is annexed. We repeat the comments made in that document.
3.1 At the hearing in July, the Council’s Core Strategy indicated that Malton/Norton would be the “primary focus” for new development, without indicating what this meant in terms of percentage new development or numbers of new homes..
3.2 At the end of the July hearing the Inspector asked the Council for clarification on this and other matters.
3.3 About ten minutes before the EIP resumed in November, the Council produced a fresh document indicating, inter alia, that 50% of new development should be located in Malton/Norton. This and other figures had not previously been put before any Council committee, and had not been out for consultation.
3.4 We are therefore not surprised that the Inspector found that the RCS was unsound.
3.5 We refer to the following paras of the Inspector’s decision (his numbering):
1.Under the terms of Section 20(5)(a) & (b) of the Planning & Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, the purpose of the independent examination of a development plan document (DPD) is to determine:
a. whether it satisfies the requirements of s19 & s24(1) of the 2004 Act, the regulations under s17(7), and any regulations under s36 relating to the preparation of the document;
b.whether it is sound.
2. This report contains my assessment of the Core Strategy in terms of the above matters, along with my recommendations and the reasons for them, as required by section 20(7) of the 2004 Act.
3. My role is to consider the soundness of the submitted Core Strategy DPD in terms of each of the tests of soundness set out in PPS12 (¶ 4.24).
Assessment of Soundness
4. At the opening of the hearing sessions of the Examination, the Council made a brief statement confirming compliance with the requirements of s19 & s24 of the 2004 Act [CD100]. These requirements essentially form part of the procedural and conformity soundness tests, which I address below. In addition, the Council has undertaken its own Self-Assessment of Soundness of the Core Strategy [CD78], which covers these particular tests.
5. Section 1.3 of the Planning Inspectorate’s Guide [CD203] sets out the process of assessing the soundness of development plan documents and the potential outcomes of the examination process. This Guide indicates that the scope for making changes to the submitted Core Strategy is somewhat limited, particularly where they may have implications for the sustainability appraisal and consultation processes already undertaken. I have approached my examination of the Ryedale Core Strategy on the assumption that it is fundamentally sound, unless the evidence presented to the Examination demonstrates otherwise, in line with the guidance in PPS12 (¶ 4.24).
6. Having carefully considered the issue of soundness, including the representations made at the submission stage and the discussions at the first session of hearings, I had some serious reservations about the soundness of particular elements of the submitted Core Strategy. I was also aware of the letter from the Department of Communities & Local Government of 11 August 2006 following the publication of the Inspectors’ reports on the first two DPD examinations, where the Stafford and Lichfield Core Strategies were found to be unsound. My concerns about the submitted Ryedale Core Strategy centred on the following shortcomings:
a. Many of the Core Policies are very generalised and do not include sufficient local distinctiveness and guidance for subsequent development plan documents. Furthermore, there are relevant policy elements within the text and tables of the Core Strategy which are not included within the actual policies themselves;
b.The submitted Core Strategy lacks sufficient explanation about the housing strategy, in particular, the means by which overall housing provision will be made, including the amount/proportion of development at the various settlements in the hierarchy, and lacks a housing trajectory and explanation of how housing provision will be delivered over the plan period and in the interim period before the Housing Sites DPD is finalised;
c.The submitted Core Strategy lacks any specific targets or indicators for the purposes of monitoring the performance of the strategy and its policies.
7. At that stage, I thought that most of the information necessary to rectify these shortcomings was included in the text and tables accompanying the Core Policies in the submitted Core Strategy or in supporting information and evidence already presented to the Examination. I therefore prepared a Briefing Note [CD204] and invited the Council to consider these points, in line with the guidance in Annex D46 of PPS12. The Council prepared a revised document with their suggested changes to address these elements of unsoundness, which was discussed at a further hearing session of the Examination.
8.However, as a result of these discussions and having examined the suggested changes, it became apparent that the scale, nature and extent of the changes required to make the submitted Core Strategy sound could materially affect the policies and substance of the original document. Furthermore, these changes might prejudice parties other than those who had made representations on the submitted document, since they have not been subject to the same participatory processes as the original plan. In some cases, the changes introduced new material into the document, some of which may not be fully supported by the evidence presented to the Examination and could undermine the sustainability appraisal already undertaken. In terms of the guidance in PPS12 and the Planning Inspectorate’s Guide, it would be inappropriate to recommend such extensive changes in my binding report. However, these changes could form the starting point for an amended Core Strategy.
8.1.As submitted, Policy CP1 confirms that the primary focus for new development will be Malton/Norton, followed by Pickering and the market towns of Kirkbymoorside & Helmsley, and lastly the key Service Villages identified in the Spatial Strategy. It also indicates where new development may be permitted within these and other settlements and in the open countryside. It is not intended to be a sequential approach to locating development, but is a broad indication of the locational priorities, leaving the detailed location and apportionment of development to the various settlements to be addressed in subsequent DPDs. However, Policy CP1 adds little to the Spatial Strategy in terms of detailed guidance for subsequent DPDs.
10.7 Although the Spatial Strategy and Core Policy CP1 identify the broad locations for new development and define a settlement hierarchy, I consider there is insufficient detail and guidance to determine the distribution of future growth between the Principal & Local Service Centres and Service Villages. In my view, the Core Strategy should provide sufficient direction to subsequent DPDs in terms of land allocations, otherwise it will be these DPDs that establish the distribution of new development, rather than the Core Strategy. I recognise that the Council has not completed all the work necessary to identify options and site allocations for development, but without some clear guidance from the Core Strategy, there is an inadequate basis on which to make such allocations. There is a need to provide a clear indication of the pace and level of development at the various settlements to show how the various land-uses and developments integrate and deliver the overall vision and demonstrate the soundness of the implementation strategy. This is a fundamental shortcoming in terms of soundness, and renders this element of the submitted Core Strategy unsound, particularly in terms of Soundness Tests 4a, 6 & 7.
10.8 I have therefore considered whether it might be possible to amend Policy CP1 to provide further guidance on the levels of development likely in the settlement hierarchy. Some proportions were suggested in the representations and discussed at the hearings, and the Council’s latest suggested changes attempt to address this shortcoming [CD110]. The suggested percentages reflect the underlying Spatial Strategy and the relative position of the settlements in the hierarchy, but the specific figures are not fully supported in the evidence, documents and statements already submitted to the Examination.
10.9 As the Principal Service Centre and primary focus for development, it is appropriate for most new development to take place at Malton/Norton, reflecting the underlying strategy of the plan and the intentions of the draft RSS. Background papers for the RSS EIP [CD29a] suggest that Malton/Norton is expected to accommodate at least half of the District’s total housing provision, but there is little independent evidence to fully justify this figure and there has been no general assessment of whether this level of provision could be accommodated at this market town. As the next largest Local Service Centre, Pickering could be expected to take a lower share of the new development, with perhaps a lesser amount at the smaller Local Service Centres of Kirkbymoorside & Helmsley, and even less at the Key Service Villages.
10.10 However, although this approach would reflect the Spatial Strategy, there is insufficient evidence to justify precise figures, even with some flexibility in the terminology. Moreover, there has been no assessment of the implications of these provision levels in terms of housing, employment or other development for particular settlements, either individually or over the plan area, nor any assessment in terms of options or sustainability appraisal. Local communities were not aware of these specific levels of development at the various settlements at consultation stage and could, understandably, feel prejudiced.
10.11 In these circumstances, further consultation and supporting work would need to be undertaken before such indicative figures could be established in policy terms. Since the required changes to Policy CP1 are so extensive and are not fully supported by the existing evidence base, I cannot recommend them in this binding report at this late stage in the process.
4. Habton Parish comprises the communities of Great Habton, Little Habton and Ryton, and the surrounding farms. These communities have concerns in regard to the provision of affordable housing for local people and the maintenance of existing facilities, particularly the local pub. There is a site at Manor Farm, which has planning permission for light industry, including warehousing. The landowner has been refused planning permission for 16 houses, of which he was prepared to make 8 available for affordable housing. Habton Parish Council supports him. The Core Strategy, as drawn, will prevent this development from taking place.
4.1 This site has been to appeal and the appeal has been dismissed on policy grounds – before 1997 it had been within the village envelope. The village of Great Habton organised a petition with over 80 signatures and this was presented to the Local MP, John Greenway. He wrote to the Council and a reply was received (Copies attached). It will be seen that the Reply suggests the Parish Council should pursue the matter through the Local Plans Process. This is exactly what we are doing now, but Ryedale is not being at all helpful.
4.2 During the consultation process, it was suggested on behalf of the Parish Council that our concerns could be resolved without any significant impact on the RCS, if Habton were to be included in a “Group of Villages with Services” with Swinton and Amotherby along the lines as appears in PPS7. However, this suggestion, made in writing, was not even put to or considered by Ryedale District Council. It does not figure at all in the latest consultation document.
5 Key Question 1:
6.Key Question 2
7. Key Question 3
A.We would agree except in regard to matters relating to employment. The Countryside is not a huge national park: it is a place where people live and work. Employment opportunities are dispersed throughout Ryedale’s countryside and are not restricted to towns. In and around Habton Parish, for example, there are farms, racing stables, the BATA works, the Westler Food company, the Flamingoland Theme Park, pubs and churches. People drive from Malton to work at all of these places
8. Key Question 4
9. Key Question 5
10. Key Question 6
10.1 Q.Have village services changed? Are there any villages which should be classed as service villages or no longer identified as service villages.
10.2 A. The concept of “service villages” does not fit Ryedale. There are certainly some villages which are larger than others and have more infrastructure and services, but this is not the way Ryedale works. As mentioned before, Ryedale’s businesses, particularly its agricultural, leisure, tourist and equestrian businesses are dispersed throughout the countryside and not concentrated around specific “service” villages.
10.3 It is more realistic to look at groups of villages or parishes – rather than individual service villages. For example, the communities within the Habton parish, are all within a group of villages which includes Amotherby, Swinton, Ryton, Kirby Misperton, Great Habton and others. Within a range of three miles, there are the following employment opportunities and local infrastructure:
10.3.1 Easterby’s racing stables – employs about 50. The gallops go around the back of the village, and one block of stables is half a mile down the road. Easterby’s own houses within the village, which they let to their employees.
10.3.2 Bulmer’s’ haulage – this is a business which has grown out of farm diversification – believed to employ more than thirty people and situate opposite the Easterby stables;
10.3.3 Flamingo land zoo and leisure theme park – a national theme park and major local employer;
1.3.4 BATA in Amotherby – a large business which supports farming;
10.3.5Westler’s foods – believed to employ over a hundred workers – one of the district’s largest employers;
10.3.6 A butcher’s shop, which also sells general groceries;
10.3.7Several village post offices;
10.3.8 Several churches;
10.3.9 A popular Chinese restaurant, (the Queen’s Head);
10.3.10 A cordon bleu restaurant and pub (The Grapes, Great Habton)
10.3.11 Other pubs which also serve food in Great Barugh and Kirby Misperton,
10.3.12 Several village halls (including one particularly big one at Kirby Misperton), a sports centre at Swinton, several village cricket grounds etc.
10.3.13 A local primary school in Amotherby
10.4 Indeed, there are more facilities within this group of villages and within a 3 miles radius of any of them than there is within three miles of Sheriff Hutton, which is to be designated as a service village.
10.5 Paragraph 3 of PPS7 states:
10.6 “Away from larger urban areas, planning authorities should focus most new development in or near local service centres where employment, housing (including affordable housing), services and other facilities can be provided close together. This should help to ensure these facilities are served by public transport and provide improved opportunities for access by walking or cycling. These centres (which might be a country town, a single large village or a group of villages) should be identified in the Development Plan………………….”
10.7 The group of villages option has never been given any consideration by the Council during the preparation of this local development framework – even though Amotherby-Swinton is already a de facto group of villages with services.
10.8 In these circumstances, it would seem both illogical and contrary to the policies of PPS7 to restrict development within any part of the Habton/ Amotherby group of villages to affordable housing only, as proposed in the draft LDF.
10.9The Amotherby-Swinton Service village is a particularly unfortunate combination. Amotherby is a small village with a large works depot (BATA) and Westlers factory. However, Swinton is a larger village which is already overdeveloped within a very small geographical area around very narrow roads with two dangerous accesses to a single main road, where there have been serious accidents, including one fatality within the last few years. Further development of Swinton is wholly inappropriate.
10. 10 Amotherby school serves a far wider area than Amotherby and Swinton, including Habton sch. There is a regular daily school bus service taking children from Habton to Amotherby and Malton schools.
10.11 In these circumstances, it would make sense to include Habton Parish within what is already a “Group of Villages with Services” (Amotherby and Swinton). The Manor Farm site in Great Habton could then provide 16 of the requirement of new houses and take the pressure off Swinton.
11.Key Question 8
Q. What is your view on housing distribution?
A.As mentioned above, and in the attached documents, we do not accept that any figure lower than 50% new development in Malton/Norton would not be in line with regional policy. To the best of our information, knowledge and belief, this is the first time this figure has ever been put forward for public consultation within Ryedale.
We think the public should be consulted on percentage figures which are substantially less than 50% (eg 40% and 30%). The outcome of this consultation would then determine how much development could go elsewhere.
We would accept a hierarchy where Malton/ Norton is the Principle Service Centre and the other market towns, local service centres, but would wish all other villages to retain their village development limits and be given room for limited further growth. There should be no separate category of “Service Villages”.
12. Key Question 9
13. Key Question 10
14. Key Questions 11 and 12
15. Key Question 13
16. Key Question 14
Do you think we should allocate land for small-scale affordable housing sites on the edges of the smaller villages?
Q. Should we increase our affordable housing target?
A. Yes, by 40%, provided the Regional Office will increase Ryedale’s allocation of housing land.
Q. What level of affordable housing do you think we should seek? Why?
A. See above.
Q. Should we set a different target for the Market Towns and villages?
Q. Should we lower the site size thresholds that will trigger the contribution?
A. This depends on what the market will stand. Obviously we would like to see the maximum possible number of affordable houses, but not so many as to discourage housebuilders from building houses in Ryedale.
We would also make the point that the policy should be changed so as to remove the obvious loophole. The current policy requires developers of village sites to build one affordable house out of every five houses. So they escape this requirement by building four. The rules should be changed to require the affordable houses to be built first. As mentioned above, Habton Parish would like to see the proportion of affordable houses to be 40% and not 20% as is current policy. So, on this basis, for example, if a developer wants to build four houses, the first two should have to be affordable houses. If, subsequently, another developer wishes to build one house in the same parish, it need not be an affordable house, but the next two houses to be built after that should have to be affordable houses – whether the developer is the same or a different person.