What is this stage of local plan making
This stage can be called “Pre-submission” or “Publication” stage. The local plan document is published for a period of six weeks for interested parties to comment before it is submitted to Government.
The local plan will be published on the planning authority’s website and a paper copy will be available at its main office and other suitable venues. The consultation document will now contain the proposed planning policies and site specific proposals.
NB Some authorities are still preparing a local plan in separate planning documents as they had started the process before the current rules came out. They may have one document for their strategic policies eg the Core Strategy and another for their detailed policies eg Development Management policies.
Understanding the draft local plan
If you have not previously been involved in local plan making – look at the “Getting Started” section of the toolkit. You can follow the “does my LPA have planning policies”. Carry out the search on the pre-submission draft using the relevant key words.
The key stages are explained based on policies for food growing. You can repeat this methodology for the other food and planning issues listed on the front page.
What to do if there are policies for food growing
- Are the proposed policies the policies that you think are relevant; are they ambitious enough?
- Send in a response to the consultation to support the parts of the plan that you like. It is important to support specific policies because there may be others that object. (see Responding to Consultations section of the toolkit). You may want to support some parts and ask for other parts to be strengthened.
- Get other like minded organisations or individuals to support/object with a similar message.
What to do if there are no policies for food growing
- Try to find out why. If you have enough time before the deadline for responses try to speak to a planning officer. There may be exhibitions or meetings organised as part of the consultation where you can have a conversation about your interest in using planning as a tool for local food. Don’t be put off!
- Submit a case for why planning policies are needed in your area based on local needs and opportunities. (You will find the responding to Issues section of the toolkit useful). Back up your case with local evidence (see evidence section of the toolkit).
- Make suggestions for how the local plan should be changed. See if you can get a specific mention for the provision of community food growing space included in any of the published policies. Alternatively you could suggest a stand-alone policy which captures all that you would like.
- Get other like minded organisations or individuals to object to the local plan as it is written and ask for community food growing space to be included.
What might policies look like
If you took part in the issues consultation, you will have thought about the policies that you wanted to see. This might have included policies that:
- Protect existing community food growing spaces.
- Support the provision of new community food growing spaces in or near existing housing estates.
- Encourage the temporary use of vacant sites and land awaiting development.
- Require, in detailed development management policies, development to incorporate on-site food production. This could include landscaping using edible plants and trees through to providing spaces suitable for food growing.
- Require the incorporation of community food growing space in all new major residential developments.
Remember - policies have to meet local needs – you can’t just pick a good policy off the shelf! But you might like to read Croydon’s comprehensive policy to see how it is put together.
Croydon Council has a strong supportive policy. The adopted policy uses the concept of ‘productive landscapes’, recognising the wider benefits of food growing. The policy a) protects, b) supports temporary use and new provision in major residential developments, and c) looks for flexibility in landscape design. Croydon backs up the implementation of Policy SP7.5 with targets in its monitoring framework. All residents are to be within a 15-minute walk of good quality provision and a total of 198.65 ha of growing areas are required over the plan period.
“The Council and its partners will support the role of productive landscapes by:
a. Protecting and enhancing allotments, community gardens and woodland; and
b. Supporting food growing, tree planting and forestry, including the temporary utilisation of cleared sites; and encouraging major residential developments to incorporate edible planting and growing spaces at multiple floor levels; and
c. Ensuring landscaping is flexible so that spaces may be adapted for growing opportunities.”
Croydon Local Plan Strategic Policies 2013
Making your response
See the 'Responding to consultations' section of the toolkit for general advice. In particular check how the planning authority wants you to respond. You may need to back up your response with more, or updated, evidence. Your response to this stage of the local plan preparation will be given to the planning inspector who carries out the Examination stage of the local plan. You will be asked how your representation should be dealt at the Examination stage i.e. via your written representation only or by also exercising the right to be heard. Only where a change is sought to the Local plan is there a right for the representation to be heard at the hearing session(s). It is important to note that written and oral representations carry exactly the same weight and will be given equal consideration in the examination process. If you want the published local plan to be changed, your reasons should be as specific as possible and you should state clearly the changes that you are looking for to make the local plan legally compliant or sound.
Don’t try to compete with the use of jargon or legalistic phrases. Use your own words – this will be more powerful.
When Hackney Council published its (now superseded) draft Development Management Local Plan, a Borough-wide planning policy document, containing a range of policies to help determine planning applications. local organisations were not happy. Although there was a policy on Allotments and Food Growing three organisations commented that there should be greater commitment and practical application of the policy. This was backed up by evidence of the considerable interest in food growing already in the Borough. The groups suggested the policy should state that space for food growing or allotments should be allocated in new development schemes.
The Council’s response was rather negative. They suggested that “planning has limited scope to specifically require open space to be allocated for food growing or allotments.” They thought it sufficient that the “policies create an environment where the opportunity will exist”. Following the consultation, the only change the council proposed to make was to make more explicit reference to food growing and allotments in the narrative to two policies. This would have the status of information rather than formal policy and would have little effect on the format of planning applications. The organisations were not happy with this response and took it to the next stage.
(The 2020 Plan does have supportive policies).
The next stage
All comments (representations) made during the publication stage are collected and recorded by the planning authority so they can be considered during the Examination stage. The responses to the publication draft local plan, the revised local plan and other supporting documents are ‘submitted’ to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, who then appoints a planning inspector to conduct the independent examination. The submission stage triggers the examination process and once an inspector is appointed the examination follows set procedures and timescales.