Mendip Matters - 23rd December

It seems remarkable that another year has nearly gone, and sad that we are once again in the midst of yet another phase of Covid at a time when we should all be enjoying Christmas festivities.  It’s been a frightening and challenging time for many, and in Mendip we will continue to try to do all we can to support our residents through these difficult times.

The work of your Council carries on through the holiday season and this week we have adopted the second part of our Local Plan (Local Plan Part 2, or LPP2) that will shape the future of development in our area.  

Mendip adopted Local Plan Part 1 (LPP1) in 2014.  It set out a strategy for growth up to 2029.  It was designed to meet housing and employment needs and establish policies to determine planning decisions across our region.  LPP2 is a further stage in this process, specifically allocating local development sites and clarifying planning policies across the district.

This new plan is the culmination of over 3 years work involving extensive public consultation.  It marks a significant step forward and is designed to protect against poor quality development in Mendip and mitigate against the risk of building in less sustainable locations.  That said, the process that we have had to go through to reach this final stage has been very challenging and far from perfect.  

LPP2 was first submitted in January 2019 and subsequently, two public examination sessions were held. The first was in summer in 2019, and the second was held in a virtual format late last year. Examination of local plans are carried out by an independent Planning Inspector who tests plans against national planning policies. He has the power to override any consideration by our local Planning Department. He decided that we had “too many green spaces” in our plan - hence our desire to protect local green spaces across Mendip was rejected.  It still strikes me as unreasonable that the inspector threw out our wish to protect many of our most precious recreational and open spaces in our towns and rural environment. 

In addition he requested that LPP2 include a requirement for additional housing sites for 505 homes in the North/North-East of Mendip, and asked for an allocation for a site for travellers at the former Morlands site in Glastonbury.  Mendip planners responded to meet the additional demands of the inspector and finally he gave his approval to Mendip’s LPP2 in September this year.  This was subject to the final acceptance by councillors this week with no opportunity for further changes.  

LLP2 identifies 30 new development sites and updates existing development allocations from LPP1 in Street and Frome. It also allocates a range of additional employment land and creates a policy for single self-build dwellings in the district.

While LPP2 has established the principle of development in certain allocated areas, each development proposal is still subject to the full planning process.  LPP2 is not exactly what we all would have wished for, but it still provides important substantial protections against development in unsustainable areas, and is a significant step forward in creating a degree of certainty in the often byzantine planning process.

Finally, I want to wish everyone a very Happy Christmas and a better New Year to come. Do get in touch if you have any questions for me, it’s always good to hear from you. Email: [email protected], Facebook: @RosWyke.

Written by Cllr Ros Wyke, Leader of Mendip District Council

Please get in touch either on my Facebook page @Ros.Wyke or you can send me an email: [email protected].

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