Agenda item

To report to the Planning Policy and Local Plan Committee the progress of the emerging Neighbourhood Plans for Ardleigh and Elmstead.



Earlier on in the meeting, as recorded under Minute 27 above, Councillor Fairley had declared for the public record that she was the Ward Member for Ardleigh.


The Committee considered a report of the Director (Planning) (A.1) which reported the progress of the emerging Neighbourhood Plans.


Members recalled that the Council currently had two Neighbourhood Plans and one Neighbourhood Development Order that were currently the subject of examination by Independent Examiners. Both Neighbourhood Plans and the Neighbourhood Development Order had been considered by the Committee and by the Cabinet and the decision had been made for each to be the subject of a six-week public consultation, which had taken place in May 2023 (for Ardleigh) and September 2023 (for Elmstead). Since that time, Independent Examiners had been appointed for each of the Plans and the Examination of each Plan had been formally opened. The two Plans were at slightly different stages within the examination process that is:-


Ardleigh Neighbourhood Plan was slightly ahead, and a six-week ‘focused consultation’ was now underway; and


Elmstead’s Neighbourhood Plan and Neighbourhood Development Order were progressing through the examination process with a Public Hearing undertaken in early February 2024.


Ardleigh Neighbourhood Plan


Members were reminded that the ‘Regulation 16 consultation’ for the Ardleigh Neighbourhood Plan had run from 15th May to 26th June 2023.


It was reported that, on the 14th June 2023, Mrs Ann Skippers MRTPI had been appointed as the Examiner for the Ardleigh Neighbourhood Plan. The Examination for the Plan had formally opened on Wednesday 12th July 2023.


On 18th August 2023, the Examiner had sent the Council an ‘Interim Note of Findings’ which had detailed a number of questions and matters of clarification. On 18th September 2023 the Council, in collaboration with the Parish Council, had submitted its response to the Examiner’s Interim Note. The Examiner had then responded to the Councils on 6th November 2023, indicating that the Councils needed to do further work in regard to the Habitats Regulation Assessment.  A Habitats Regulation Assessment and Strategic Environmental Assessment) Screening Report had been prepared by Essex County Council Place Services, on behalf of the District Council in support of the Neighbourhood Plan. The three statutory consultation bodies (Natural England, Historic England and the Environment Agency) however had not been formally consulted on the Screening Report and no formal decision by the District Council had been made on the Screening Report.


A consultation had subsequently been held between 16th November and 18th December 2023 when comments from Natural England and Historic England had been received. The District Council had therefore been able to publish a formal decision, as the Competent Authority, stating that the Screening Report now met the requirements of the Regulations.


Members were informed that the Examiner’s significant modifications document and details of the Habitat Regulations Assessment decision were available as background documents.


The Committee was made aware that this decision, as well as the Examiner’s proposed significant modifications to the Plan and the implications of the newly published NPPF all had to be the subject of their own public consultation.


A ‘Focused Consultation’ on those three issues had therefore been undertaken, which would run from 22nd January 2024 until 4th March 2024.


The Committee was advised that, once the current consultation had closed, the Parish Council would have a further two weeks to make comments on any representations received. The Examiner would then submit her final report to the District Council at which point this Council would organise a referendum in the Parish for residents to vote on the Plan.


Elmstead’s Neighbourhood Plan and Neighbourhood Development Order


It was reported that Elmstead’s Neighbourhood Plan was supported by four key objectives, those were:


1.  To manage incremental growth of the village through sensitive infill and to protect the surrounding countryside from harmful development.

2.  To conserve the special heritage character of the village and its landscape setting

3.  To protect and improve the ecological value and connectivity of the green infrastructure assets of the village and wider parish.

4.  To sustain community facilities and services that are essential to community life.


Members were aware that the Elmstead Neighbourhood Plan contained eighteen Planning Policies, those were:


  • Policy ELM1: Settlement Development Boundaries
  • Policy ELM2: Protecting The Setting Of Elmstead Market
  • Policy ELM3: Gaps Between Settlements
  • Policy ELM4: The Former Elmstead Community Centre
  • Policy ELM5: Affordable Housing
  • Policy ELM6: First Homes.
  • Policy ELM7: Housing Mix
  • Policy ELM8: Zero Carbon Buildings
  • Policy ELM9: Design Codes
  • Policy ELM10: Important Views
  • Policy ELM11: The Village Core
  • Policy ELM12: Movement And Connectivity
  • Policy ELM13: Managing Traffic
  • Policy ELM14: Local Green Spaces

·         Policy ELM15: Green Ring

·         Policy ELM16: Nature Recovery

·         Policy ELM17: Health And Wellbeing Service Provision

·         Policy ELM18: Local Community Uses


The Committee was reminded that the Elmstead Neighbourhood Plan and Neighbourhood Development Order (NDO) had also been the subject of a six-week public consultation. This consultation had run from 18th September 2023 to 30th November 2023.


Members were informed that an Independent Examiner: Mr John Slater BA (Hons) DMS MRTPI FRGS had been appointed by Tendring District Council on 22nd September 2023 to examine both the Neighbourhood Plan and NDO. The Independent Examination of the Neighbourhood Plan and NDO had started on 9th November 2023 and the Examiner had visited the Parish on 23rd November 2023. The Examiner had submitted his initial comments on the Neighbourhood Plan and NDO to the District and Parish Councils on 27th November 2023. Those comments had comprised fact finding and procedural matters, and the Councils had been given until 15th December 2023 to respond.


On 2nd January 2024, the Examiner had made the decision that a public hearing was required to address those matters raised by the Parish and District Councils in their response to the Examiner’s Initial Comments. A public hearing had therefore been arranged for 10.00am on Thursday 8th February 2024 at The Community Centre, School Road, Elmstead Market.


The hearing had been open to the public to attend, however, the conduct of a Neighbourhood Plan hearing was set out in Schedule 4B to the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 which specified which parties could participate. The legislation specifically provided for oral representations at the hearing to be made by the Qualifying Body, namely Elmstead Parish Council and the Local Planning Authority, Tendring District Council. Further details, including who was invited to attend the hearing, and the draft agenda could be found within the Examiner's 'Notice of Public Hearing' background document. Once the Public Hearing had taken place, it was anticipated that the Examiner would either propose modifications to the Plan and NDO or submit his final report.


The Committee had before it the Planning Officers’ Update Sheet, which had been circulated prior to the commencement of the meeting. That Update Sheet stated:-


“A Public Hearing was held on Thursday the 8th February 2024 at the Community Centre in Elmstead Market, to discuss the Elmstead Neighbourhood Plan and Neighbourhood Development Order (NDO). The Examiner invited discussion around a number of specific subject areas.


     As with the Ardleigh Neighbourhood Plan, the Examiner requested that we consult all those who commented on the Plan asking for their views on the implications of the recently updated National Planning Policy Framework. We were also asked to formally ask if the statutory bodies (Natural England, Historic England and the Environment Agency) whether they agree with the findings of the Habitat Regulations Assessment (HRA) and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Screening Report. TDC will undertake these consultations accordingly.

     The Parish Council were asked to defend their reasoning as to why two areas of land were not included within the draft Settlement Development Boundary. The landowners, who objected to their land not being included, were also given an opportunity to put their case across. The examiner requested that the Parish Council submit their methodology for defining the Settlement Development Boundary to him.

     The Parish Council had proposed draft policy wording concerning controlling development in the green space to the west of the village, and all parties were asked to consider this new wording and explain how it might be used in decision-making.

     The Parish Council were asked to explain the amount of development proposed for the community centre site (the land subject to the NDO). The Examiner had concerns that the site was too small to accommodate the proposed building, parking and amenity facilities, and the Parish Council have been asked to reconsider the proposed development (in coordination with TDC) to satisfy these concerns.

     The Examiner questioned all parties on the choice of planning conditions proposed for the NDO.


Once the actions requested by the Examiner have been completed and appropriate documentation submitted to him, the Examination of the Neighbourhood Plan and NDO can proceed. The Examiner will determine whether any further modifications to the Plan are necessary (these will be subject to their own consultation, as is the case with Ardleigh), and then whether the Plan and NDO meet the ‘basic conditions’ set out in Town and Country Planning Act, and can proceed to referendum.”


At the invitation of the Chairman, the Housing & Planning Portfolio Holder (Councillor Baker) commented on the contents of the report A.1.


Having duly taken all of the above information into account and having discussed the matter:-


It was moved by Councillor M Cossens, seconded by Councillor Fairley and unanimously:-


RESOLVED that the Planning Policy and Local Plan Committee notes –


a)  the progress of the Ardleigh Neighbourhood Plan; and of


b)  the Elmstead Neighbourhood Plan and Neighbourhood Development Order.




Supporting documents: