ABC Revised Village Confines – Challock Parish Council Response

 

Background:

 

The confines pilot scheme 2012 - 2014, proposed by Ashford Borough Council, allowed local people to play a key role in shaping the outcome.

The confines pilot feeds into Ashford Borough Council’s Local Plan for the borough.

The Local Plan sets out the land that needs to be provided in the borough to accommodate new homes and jobs up to 2030. This is a 15 year period.

It also includes the policies that will be used to help decide planning applications.

The village confines are used to identify the area within which small scale development and infill may be acceptable in principle within Challock, although planning permission will obviously depend on detailed designs being appropriate.

During 2012 the Local people extensively explored the village confines and shared ideas on how they should be defined on a plan.

The conclusion of this process was a locally generated interpretation of the village confines. The Borough Council can use the new boundary line as a material consideration in reaching planning decisions on new housing development and the Parish Council should obviously support this approach.

The confines pilot has fully delivered what it set out to do.

 

        The confines pilot came up with a clear vision for the slow long term growth of the village to maintain its unique character while allowing small scale growth that will help maintain its vital amenities.

        The agreed village confines is fair and caters for small scale development without any major impact on the village both aesthetically and environmentally but still allows the village to expand organically over the foreseeable future.

        Development has come forward on smaller infill sites as opposed to one or two larger sites.

        There is no identified need for large-scale housing development sites in the village, as the smaller sites within the village confines will easily deliver more appropriate scaled development.

 

The main purpose of the confines report was to clearly identify where development would be acceptable and avoid any uncertainty and ambiguity.

It gives the Parish Council absolutely clear guidance of where development may be appropriate until 2030.

 

During the Omission Sites consultation our response was that Challock has more than contributed to the Local Plan objectives; 18% increase in housing.  The confines map gives the Parish Council and the Borough Council clear direction. There was considerable backing for the confines from ABC.  The confines report was a comprehensive study that took over two years to complete and deem going completely against the community’s wishes to consider sites outside of its boundary.

October 2018

 

ABC advised Challock Parish Council that the Council will shortly be commencing an exercise to identify the ‘village confines’ across the borough.

 

Traditionally, the village ‘confines’ for planning purposes has been defined by the following written definition in successive versions of the Local Plan:-

 

“the limits of continuous and contiguous development forming the existing built-up area of the settlement, excluding any curtilage beyond the built footprint of the buildings on the site (e.g. garden areas)”

 

The purpose of this exercise is to provide some additional clarity as to where the existing built confines of the village are, by expressing this on a map base.

 

Initially, this will be undertaken by officers in ABC and a draft village confines boundary will be sent to Challock Parish Council to review and comment. Ideally, this should also include an opportunity for local residents to be involved through an informal consultation exercise undertaken by the Parish Council so that as wide a range of views as possible can be taken into account.

 

Any representations made during the consultation process and the overall conclusion of the Parish Council would then be fed back to officers here and reported to Members. On satisfactory completion of the exercise, the defined ‘village confines’ will be treated as informal guidance for the purposes of determining planning applications where the relationship of a development to the ‘confines’ is relevant.

 

ABC stated that this exercise is only concerned with clarifying where the existing village confines extend to and any map-based definition will need to generally accord with the written definition above. If the Parish Council wishes to take an alternative approach to defining the village confines, then this should be undertaken through a Neighbourhood Plan.

 

Challock Parish Council undertook a public consultation meeting on 28th November to gain parishioners views on ABC revised village confines map.  The Parish Council also included a review of the village confines. 

 

The Clerk asked via email to Daniel Carter as the village confines is considered an informal guideline when determining planning applications does this now mean planning applications would be considered outside of the village confines as well as within.  Daniel’s reply was “as a more general point, it does not mean that every area of land within the confines is definitely developable. That has never been the case. There are a number of criteria in the policy which relates to aspects such as relationship with built form, character of the area, residential amenity which would all need to be considered as part of any application to weigh up the pros and cons. Similar there is policies governing the loss of open space as well.

 

Village like Challock, the confines has a slightly different context now in any event. Emerging Policy HOU5 stipulates that residential development within, adjoining or close to the existing built up confines will be acceptable in principle, providing certain criteria are met.

 

Under the main modifications to the Local Plan 2030 the settlement matrix states for Challock it is suited for HOU3a/HOU5 inclusion – Range of services in large village. Mixed settlements pattern with opportunity for infill and limited edge of settlement growth due to AONB location but due to settlement size this would sustainable.

 

Under Parish Forum at Public Consultative Meeting the following feedback took place:-

 

Discussion took place regarding the Neighbourhood Plan and cost implications.  Councillor Burden commented the neighbourhood plan gives parishioners more of a say in the development and growth of the village and can have an input in the type of housing required i.e. affordable housing.  The cost of a Neighbourhood Plan is quite expensive and can be in the region of £30,000. 

 

A parishioner requested for the parish council to make enquiries in the Neighbourhood Plan process and costs. 

Discussion took place with HOU3 & HOU5 explanation adjoining/abutting and within the village confines (settlement). 

 

During the discussion the following comments were made:

 

“Change of use – not sustainable.  Developers change of use to planning applications i.e. from 3 bedroom chalet bungalow to 4/5 bedroom.” 

 

Councillor Fisher asked parishioners if they are happy with the existing confines or to support ABC revised version keep it tight.  A show of hands for keeping the existing confines as it is.

24 parishioners raised their hands out of 58. 

 

Parishioner requested further clarification on the redefining village confines as he felt many of the parishioners in attendance was not sure of the understanding.

 

“The new devised village confines by ABC appear a more logical line – garden areas suggest planning logic, justification logical – demarcation of land and are in line with other parish councils.  Planning policy to develop in gardens. There would be more control with neighbourhood plan.”

 

Discussion took place regarding original village confines marking open space areas No 15 the Lees and No 17 area by Halfway.  The revised map omitted these areas and in particular No 17 area near to the Halfway Restaurant, privately owned land and therefore could be considered for development.  Councillor Fisher commented the Clerk has made enquiries to Daniel Carter and is waiting for a response.  Councillor Burden commented that the Lees (No15) is owned by the Parish Council and would never be built on. 

 

Councillor Fisher commented “the village confines were a long process and a lot of time and effort.  At the time the parish council was informed this would be it for 15 years 2030.  Now further changes in planning policy scaling it down.”

 

Councillor Fisher commented the Leader of the Council said at the time that this would be set as part of the 2030 Local Plan. 

 

Councillor Burden asked for comments on whether the confines are deemed a success.

 

“Slow growth, smaller houses, affordable housing, but in reality larger properties, mainly 4/5 bedrooms.  ABC permitted for larger houses. Neighbourhood plan would be able to determine smaller houses/affordable homes.”

 

“Neighbourhood plan reflect the majority of needs.”

 

Councillor Burden commented adjoining/abutting – continuous, contiguous growth rather than ribbon settlement affect.

 

Parishioner commented the 2 satellite areas of the village under the new confines how this would affect future planning applications – i.e. change of roof materials, bird box in the garden; caveat consideration.

 

“We pay a premium for housing in the village.  Many young people cannot afford the housing.  Opportunity for garden areas for parishioners wishing to build houses in their gardens for their children who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to live in the village.”

 

Councillor Fisher requested a show of hands in favour for keeping the village confines as it is.  33 in favour of keeping the confines as it is.

 

“Emphasis on housing for young people - ABC commit to smaller houses. The village needs young people.”

 

“Clockhouse development 1 x 3 bedroom property for disabled family and 2 x 2 bedroom properties affordable.”

 

Councillor Smith commented with any type of planning policy there are winners and losers but would parishioners prefer a more democratic village confines or one imposed by ABC. 

 

“Those who don’t have an interest point of view that this type of housing in the village does nothing for the infrastructure.  No funding to improve services in the village.”

 

Councillor Fisher commented that it is important to have your say.

 

Comments to be sent to the Clerk by the end of December.

 

The Parish Council received email responses by 4 parishioners and 4 responses on feedback forms issued at the Public Meeting. 

Conclusion

 

The overall feeling on the new revised confines map is that the Parish Council would prefer the village confines original to remain.  The parish council and villagers worked hard to agree these confines and a lot was considered when making the final decisions. Like ABC, villagers do not want Challock to be a victim of large scale developments and the Parish Council believe the current confines are effective in ensuring this does not happen. Neither ends of the village are alienated in what currently exists and seem the most fair for the majority - which is what we fought for. If this was taken away it would feel like we no longer have a voice and that ABC will do as they please.

We have been advised that for us to have a voice we would need to embark on labour intensive, costly neighbourhood plan.  Our parishioners would rather money spent on our infrastructure than a neighbourhood plan which holds no guarantees.  The Parish Council feels let down by ABC the original confines project proposed and supported by ABC in 2012 and ABC fully endorsed the confines at the cabinet meeting in 2014 and Challock Parish was used as guinea pigs under the scheme.

 

If the confines were to change to those proposed by ABC, we would have concerns over some areas that could allow mass development in our village. One of these being the large field opposite Crossways on the Canterbury Road. In addition to this, ABC appears to propose that some properties in the "centre" of the village will have larger areas of gardens included in the built confines. For example, in Kiln Close and for the properties west of High Snoad Wood along the Canterbury Road.  This could be detrimental to the village if a developer was to purchase these properties/gardens.

 

The overall process of ABC revised village confines appears rushed and has already been decided and many of our parishioners and parish council feel that we no longer have a clear and unambiguous direction which we had with the current confines.  We understand ABC’s approach to making the line tighter due to HOU5 definition but we feel the new devised map is open to larger developments which Challock Parish Council have opposed all along unless we embark on a neighbourhood plan we no longer have a say. 

 

A neighbourhood plan is very costly and labour intensive.  How does ABC expect majority of parishes to fund this?  Our parishioners would not be happy to see precept increased and rather monies spent for the benefit of the village. 


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