Today (Friday 10 February) sees the publication of the next version of the ‘local plan’ for Dartmoor. This Plan, the ‘DMD’ sits below our Core Strategy plan and contains 64 policies and site allocations, which we’ll be using when we make decisions on planning applications in the National Park. If you’re thinking about building an extension, putting up solar panels, or have someone at home hoping for some affordable housing in your village, this affects you.
For those outside the planning system it must seem like a strange world at times. Plans take a long time to prepare – we started this one in 2009 – since then we’ve held around 30 public consultation events and met with approaching 2,000 people. We’ve gathered a lot of evidence too, carrying out studies into flood risk, landscape character, house prices and children’s play space to name but a few. There are also reports such as Sustainability Appraisal and Habitats Assessment to make sure the Plan is sound.
We’re aware you can have to jump through a lot of hoops to get planning permission – it’s probably little consolation but we have to jump through a lot to prepare the policies too!
So what does this Plan say? We’ll let you into a secret – some of it isn’t that different from the old one! Some policies have been working fine and don’t need changing, however there are new or changed policies for new or changing issues such as housing and tourism. What is also new, is that we have also looked at where new housing might go; in the National Park we don’t have to deliver the big housing numbers the district council’s do, but we do have to find enough land to meet the needs of local people. When a family outgrows its house, a teenager wants to go it alone or a family breaks up that can create a demand for more housing – we need to help deliver this housing so that people can continue to live in their communities (and afford to do so). This helps Dartmoor stay as a living working landscape.
So what happens next? This isn’t adopted policy yet, but it’s getting there. The ‘Publication Version’ means we think this Plan is ready for adoption, but you have until 11 April 2012 to send us your comments. After this an independent inspector will look at the Plan and any comments and decide if it is ‘sound’. All going well by early 2013 we could be using these policies to decide your application for that extension you’ve been thinking about.