Cheltenham Plan Pre-Submission consultation

Pre-Submission Cheltenham Plan

1 Introduction

WHAT IS THE CHELTENHAM PLAN?

1.1 The Cheltenham Plan, together with the Gloucester, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Joint Core Strategy, the Gloucestershire Minerals and Waste Local Plans and any neighbourhood plans made in the future will, when adopted, comprise the statutory development plan for Cheltenham up to 2031. Whilst the development plan is primarily concerned with land-use planning, it is a shared project that will support delivery of many of the Council’s outcomes set out in its Corporate Strategy.

SUPPORTING EVIDENCE BASE

1.2 All development plans are required to be supported and justified by robust evidence. Gathering evidence is a critical part of the plan-making process. The Cheltenham Plan is supported by a wealth of supporting information, including the sustainability appraisal, habitats regulations assessment, equalities impact assessments and flooding, landscape and transport studies amongst others. The sustainability appraisal and associated assessments are an integral part of the whole process and has helped inform the contents of the Plan as it has evolved over time. At each stage they will have influenced the content of the document by testing the policy options and potential site allocations for their contribution towards each of the sustainability objectives.

PURPOSE OF THE DOCUMENT

1.3 The stage of the process that is currently being consulted on is the pre-submission stage and is the final version of the plan before being sent to the Planning Inspectorate for consideration. All comments made during the consultation period will be sent to the Planning Inspectorate to be considered by the appointed planning inspector. The results of the previous consultations detailed below have helped the Council to ‘narrow down’ the alternatives available in meeting the Plan’s strategy. Having considered the relevant evidence, including sustainability appraisal and the findings of the JCS, the Plan is now presented as a whole with policies that will inform application decisions along with broader spatial policies for Cheltenham Borough as a whole.

CONNECTION TO THE JCS AND OTHER PLANNING DOCUMENTS

1.4 In a plan-led system, the development plan and neighbourhood plans set out the overarching context and specific policies that are used to manage and guide development through the decisions the Council makes on planning applications. The development plan also sets out higher-level objectives and aspirations that aim both to conserve what is valued and cherished within Cheltenham and to encourage development in spatial and policy areas the Council wishes to promote in the public interest.

1.5 Since the adoption of the Cheltenham Borough Local Plan Second Review (2006) national planning policy has been rewritten and condensed into a more streamlined and accessible format. The emergence of a National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) has also been complemented by the publication of extensive national Planning Practice Guidance (nPPG). Developed through these changes, the Councils’ strategic planning document, the Gloucester, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Joint Core Strategy (JCS) was, found sound in October 2017 and is awaiting adoption by the three authorities.

1.6 The above changes have meant that many of the requirements set out in regulations concerning the contents of a local plan have already been met. For example, the JCS identifies objectively assessed housing need for the area and sets out requirements for strategic sites. The JCS also contains a suite of strategic development management policies on issues such as design, heritage and the provision of infrastructure.

1.7 The NPPF and nPPG provide detailed planning policy direction which is explicit in stating that this guidance should not be duplicated at a local level. The JCS picks up the strategic elements of policy but does not always provide local detail. This is why there is a need for the Cheltenham Plan to follow closely on from the adoption of the JCS. Therefore, for all policy topics except retail, the JCS along with this Cheltenham Plan replace all policies found in the Cheltenham Borough Local Plan Second Review (2006).

1.8 The JCS authorities have agreed to undertake an immediate review with regards to Retail. Therefore until such time as the retail review can be adopted by the JCS authorities the existing retail policies within the Cheltenham Borough Local Plan (2006) will continue to be used. This is consistent with the wording of JCS policy SD2 which was subject to detailed examination.

1.9 It would not be possible to develop district plan policies for retail without taking into account the strategic context, but it would also not be reasonable to delay the production of the Cheltenham Plan until the review is concluded. Therefore during the writing of the Cheltenham Plan it was agreed to defer consideration of retail to this wider review. The JCS retail review will cover both strategic and local polices for retail in Cheltenham as part of its remit.

WHAT HAS HAPPENED PREVIOUSLY

1.10 Work on the preparation of the Cheltenham Plan began in 2012. During that time engagement with the community and stakeholders took place to inform what the future contents of the Cheltenham Plan should be and how it should be progressed. This is part of a process known as scoping and is one step in meeting the statutory requirements for the preparation of a development plan document. The scoping document was subject to an eight week public consultation ending 2 September 2013.

1.11 Scoping and development of the Plan’s vision and objectives was followed by publication and consultation on the Issues and Options Report in June 2015. This stage in the process identified what the Council considered to be the main planning issues and policy options available to help deliver both the vision and objectives of the Plan and the Council's own corporate vision.

1.12 Following the Issues and Options consultation a further round of consultation took place which presented the Preferred Option consultation. This was informed by previous consultation responses and further evidence base work, which allowed the overarching strategy to be narrowed down and become more focussed. The consultation took place in February/March 2017 and ran for 6 weeks.

1.13 Originally it was intended that the Cheltenham Plan should be formed in two parts. Part one was to be developed first detailing allocations for housing and economic development along with designations of Local Green Space and accompanied by an economic strategy. Part two would follow which would contain all development management policies and cover the remaining subject areas. However, with the Joint Core Strategy schedule being delayed it has been possible to present both parts one and two as a whole in the pre-submission document.

TIMELINE

 timeline

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

1.14 Following the close of the pre-submission consultation, the responses will be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate. The pre-submission consultation will last for eight weeks and will begin early in 2018. Therefore, submission is likely to take place during spring 2018, with an expected Examination in Public during summer 2018. As many of the strategic level issues have already been agreed through the JCS Examination in Public, it is hoped that the examination process for the Cheltenham Plan will not be lengthy; however an exact time scale cannot be defined.