WEEKEND WEB: ‘Tedious’ talk which shapes our district

Coun Roger Gambba-Jones explains the importance of the Local Plan in this week’s Cabinet Call...

We are now fully in the throes of the first public examination of our joint Local Plan, taking place in Boston.

For those not familiar or involved in the planning process, the thought of sitting in a room listening to planning experts debate the fine print and evidence used to write planning policies, would probably be as exciting as watching paint dry.

However, the eventual outcomes of this demanding and sometimes tedious process, could well result in a very different response, if it were to impact their village, town, or street they live in.

The documents now being forensically examined reviewed and redrafted in places, will ultimately make a difference to places where people live, work, shop and socialise.

Many people will have seen planning applications referred to in the local press, or even had reason to submit comments about a proposed development near them.

When people are concerned about an application, maybe because it will change the way an area looks, increase the traffic, or see a green field or open area in a village or town developed, they often ask - how can the council allow this to happen?

The reality is, that anybody can apply to develop, the council cannot prevent this and shouldn’t.

Likewise, it’s not actually against the rules to develop without having a planning permission. However, it can be a very foolhardy thing to do and can cost somebody a great deal of money and grief.

National planning guidance contains a ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’. That’s a bit of a mouthful, but it basically means that unless you have the evidence to prove that a development proposal will cause significant harm to its location, or surroundings, permission should be granted.

So without an adopted Local Plan in place, it could be argued that everywhere and anywhere is vulnerable. It’s not quite that bad, as national planning guidance still offers some protection.

However, having our own plan will mean that we are in a much better position to manage what happens and that local people have had the opportunity to give their views on what should and should not be happening in our district.

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