Background Info

We are calling for a change in legislation to ensure that small communities are provided for in planning policy.

Small communities are being expanded with little evidence of consideration to the provision of assets and amenities within the original community or their geographical character. Housing and industrial developments are given planning permission and the focus on any new, and not necessarily enough, community assets are placed within the new development, to the exclusion of the original community. Many small communities start from a disadvantaged position, often overlooked in terms of asset and infrastructure. There is often no asset building equity ability within these communities. When new development starts, and asset and infrastructure are placed within that new development, land banking has already occurred making it difficult for small communities to build asset in the original settlement. The triggers on volume agreed with planning and developers on asset and infrastructure don’t meet the community’s needs. There are long periods of insufficient capacity in asset and infrastructure to service old and new residents.

Ensuring provision for small communities in NPF 3 could offer protection for small communities so that the scenic views and natural surroundings contributing to a community’s character are considered when decisions are made regarding new developments, including the cumulative impact of developments. It could also ensure that small communities, even once expanded, remain distinct and do not merge into others. In other words, prevent coalescence of communities with a mechanism for small communities to halt development if masterplanning is not creating a sustainable community.

The complexity of planning policy has meant that while communities have the right to contribute, they do not necessarily have the capacity to process all the necessary information. When the impact of developments eventually become clear, communities are told that their chance to participate has passed. This is not about being against any new development but a lack of engagement and a disregard for community perspective and ideas which is unacceptable. A community should have an impartial adviser before and when a local plan is out for consultation.

This petition highlights good practice in forming policy that could help protect small communities from being overtaken by development. A pre-development community asset and infrastructure audit associated with place shaping would ensure the original settlement/community is not under resourced in asset/infrastructure, and identify if there is land or asset building equity within that community and address deficits before development. The audit would therefore highlight deficits and should result in provision in any local plan before a call for development sites – not capital expenditure but agreed provision and land identification to address deficits.

It can only be made possible if promoted by policy. Our hope is that this petition will shed light on the issues and will provide protection for small communities in planning and national framework policies in the future.


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