The government's National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), published in draft in 2011 and in final form in 2012, requires us to have in place a wide-ranging plan for the district. Most of our neighbouring authorities are now well advanced with their plans and have consulted their residents (voters) on published drafts which contain their proposed policies and a good deal of detail. The NPPF requires that this be done:
'Local Plans are the key to delivering sustainable development that reflects the vision and aspirations of local communities';
'Early and meaningful engagement and collaboration with neighbourhoods, local organisations and businesses is essential'.
SHDC expects to have a fifteen-year plan in place by the end of 2016, but is making only slow progress and the South Hams Society is concerned at the very limited amount of time that will be available for meaningful consultation if that target date were actually to be met. The only consultation so far has been on headings rather than content. The comments that the Society submitted on it are here.
To get the debate started the Society has drafted its own entirely unofficial vision, together with some of the measures that it thinks will be needed (both in the black section below). Local organisations and residents are invited to submit comments and suggestions for inclusion on this page. They should be e-mailed to email@example.com and should show the name of the sender.
A Vision for the South Hams in 2031
In 2031 the South Hams will be a place in which genuinely sustainable development has improved the lives of its current residents while protecting its natural assets for future generations. A prosperous economy, strong communities and an outstanding visitor experience will sustain its culture, wildlife and unique landscape.
We will see the following outcomes:
A more prosperous economy
A more prosperous economy will have been fostered by good transport and communications and an excellent quality of life which will have attracted highly-qualified entrepreneurs to the area.
More land will be farmed with a strong focus on sustainable, low energy methods. Local produce will be celebrated and widely available. Fishing, shell fish farming and low-impact marine businesses will thrive in Dartmouth, Salcombe and other coastal communities.
More vibrant communities
People living in the South Hams will have been able to find work with an adequate income and high quality accommodation within a short journey to work. Town high streets and local shops will be supported by good facilities for car parking and access by public transport, cycling and walking.
More effective town and parish councils, which will be the predominant influence in shaping communities. This will be assisted by de-centralising services and decisions from the district council to town and parish councils where possible.
Emissions will have been reduced by greatly enhanced public transport between Plymouth, Torbay and South Hams towns and outlying communities, and by measures to encourage walking, the use of bicycles and the use of environmentally friendly vehicles.
The district will be producing its full share of energy from renewable sources, from a variety of installations which are accepted by adjacent communities, show a net public benefit and do not harm appreciation of the landscape in the AONB. The district will have benefited from welcoming innovative methods of generation which meet these requirements.
An improved natural environment
The beauty and wildlife of the South Devon will have been improved to attract visitors seeking outstanding landscapes which remain more natural and unspoiled than is available elsewhere. Water quality in rivers and on beaches will be of the highest standard. The movement to Green Tourism will have grown and tourists will be encouraged to participate in local activities with low environmental impact.
In many cases these are outside the control of the district council, so will be matters on which it has to obtain a result from the County Authority, central government or some other body.
Council-led drive for fast broadband using support from all local community groups.
Policies to protect agricultural land from development or non-agricultural use.
Policies to concentrate heavy vehicular transport in areas close to the A38.
Compulsory purchase of derelict brownfield sites after safeguards to the owner.
50% of new housing developments over ten units to be either affordable and restricted to local residents or to provide sites for self-build.
Planning applications to be firstly made to the town or parish council which will forward the proposal to the district council with its comments.
Parish-led suggestions for housing to be fast-tracked.
All developers' schemes above a certain size to be subject to an independent viability assessment, with findings published.
Extend the network of footpaths and cycleways, particularly where useful for journeys to work or school.
Impose an area-wide speed limit of 40 mph on all local roads in rural areas and 20 mph in towns and villages. Police it effectively.
Council car parks to have a scheme for refunding fees when shopping in the high street.
District council to secure improved frequency of bus services and reduce interchange waiting times.
All developments in rural areas including those used for farming to produce a justification for usage and a landscape impact statement.
Controls to prevent agricultural practices which cause soil erosion into watercourses.
Strengthened monitoring of watercourses and enforcement to prevent pollution.
Chris Klee writes:
Under A Vision for the South Hams in 2031,,,,,,A more prosperous economy, second para...