The Background to the Local Plan for the AONB Area
Arnside Parish Plan Trust (APPT) was set up in 2002 to produce the first parish plan for Arnside to satisfy government legislation. That plan was published in 2003. It was to be a 5 year plan and was to be reviewed in 2008. APPT did that review in 2008 and the results can be found on this web site. Again the parish plan had to be reviewed after another 5 years. However in 2012, the government changed the style of parish plans. The new policy was for communities to produce either a Community Led Plan or a Neighbourhood Plan.
APPT was leaning towards the creation of a Community Led Plan for Arnside. However in January 2012, SLDC released its Land Allocations Proposal for South Lakeland. The details of this plan were considered by APPT to inappropriate for Arnside because it could mean extensive building on important open spaces in the village. APPT and Arnside Parish Council challenged the Land Allocations proposal at hearings led by a government appointed planning inspector in October 2012 and June 2013.
During the hearings process it was agreed by all interested parties that it would be more appropriate to develop a Local Plan for the Arnside & Silverdale AONB area. APPT will play a significant role in the production of that plan instead of producing either a Community Led Plan or a Neighbourhood Plan.
The text below explains in more detail the issues around housing in Arnside but it must be remembered that the Local Plan for the AONB Area will cover much wider issues than just housing and land allocations. The Local Plan for the AONB Area will be shaped by the strategic framework and will address the following issues
- Review of settlement boundaries
- Delivery of sites to accommodate around 123 dwellings on the South Lakeland side by 2025
- The identification of sites for new employment;
- Cross linkages with AONB Management Plan;
- Landscape and Building design;
- Important features and characteristics to be retained/enhanced;
- Areas in need of improvement;
- Biodiversity enhancement/nature improvement areas;
- New visitor facilities;
- Car parking and traffic management;
- Strategic pedestrian and cycle networks
Land Allocations & Housing
Arnside has taken a major step towards satisfying the future affordable housing needs of its young and elderly residents, while also protecting our special environment within the Arnside & Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Two years ago, more than 550 residents signed a petition expressing concerns about the designated “Important Open Spaces” that South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) had earmarked for building in Arnside. Since then, Arnside Parish Plan Trust (APPT) has taken up those concerns on behalf of the village and proposed a better way forward.
APPT has been able to put a strong case to the Government-appointed Inspector. The Inspector has now asked SLDC to rework its Land Allocations within the AONB using the policies proposed by APPT, in partnership with those who have a duty to manage our local, very special, landscape. This is a very significant move forward.
This briefing explains why, where we go from here, and what contribution you can make.
When the Government introduced its new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) last year, it included a “presumption in favour of development” meaning that developers could expect to be given planning permission for sites where, in many cases, housing or other developments would have an adverse impact on the character of our communities.
SLDC allocated sites on this basis throughout the whole of South Lakeland, (outside of the Lake District National Park which they recognised is protected).
But APPT had to work hard to get SLDC to recognise that Arnside is in a very special position. Because Arnside is within an AONB, planners have a very special statutory duty under the NPPF. Land in an AONB has to be given “the highest status of protection” and other issues, such as housing provision, have to be balanced against that special duty.
This makes it different from the rest of South Lakeland (outside the Lake District National Park), but SLDC had not made that distinction in its Land Allocations proposals. It had, for example, made a policy decision, for convenience, to use only sites greater than 0.3ha (3/4 acre) in its allocations. The opportunity to use smaller sites with lesser impact was therefore ignored.
APPT argued that our local need for affordable housing has to be accommodated in a way that does not damage the AONB landscape, nor impact unduly on the open character of the village as embodied in the “Important Open Spaces” it contains. We argued that a more sensitive policy was needed and was indeed available. There is a better balance to be struck. By allocating brownfield sites, and small infill sites scattered around the village, the damage which could be caused by big estates on large greenfield sites can be avoided.
The Way Forward
Some details are still being worked out but the intention is to produce new Land Allocations for the whole of the AONB produced by a partnership made up of SLDC, Lancaster City Council, AONB management, the Parish councils, (Arnside, Beetham, Warton, Silverdale, Yealand Conyers, Yealand Redmayne), APPT and other important stakeholders in the AONB.
This may take up to two years, with fresh evidence to be gathered, alternative sites to be identified, and a new programme of consultations with our local communities.
We obviously do need new homes at an affordable price for the young, the elderly, and those working locally on lower incomes, and our challenge is to get the correct balance within our landscape. APPT consider there is no local need for more expensive homes on large estates.
APPT is particularly keen to encourage the availability of small sites for affordable housing. Small sites scattered sensitively around the village would not only have less of an adverse impact on the landscape but they would also fit more closely the policies of the housing associations.
The new plan should therefore use site selection criteria more appropriate to providing “the highest status of protection” for the special landscape needs of the AONB area, including the use of smaller infill sites, and previously-used brownfield sites.
We hope that this will help eliminate current eyesores and improve our local facilities.
APPT is also working on other matters which could help improve life in our village. We are currently researching the needs of local businesses and trying to understand how we can best help keep our local shops and services viable. Among the issues are the pressure on access, traffic and parking, cycling routes, and the conflicting opportunities and pressures caused by tourism.