What is the Local Plan?
A Local Plan is a document that sets out how development including housing, business construction and infrastructure (roads, facilities, etc) can best benefit the area the council is responsible for. Targets for development are set nationally by Government and the Local Plan is the approach by how those targets can best be met for a specific area taking into consideration the needs of the local population and the priorities for the area.
Why does the Forest of Dean need a Local Plan?
Local councils have to produce a Local Plan by law and they have to last for a minimum of 15 years. Not only do we have to produce one but we want to produce one to make sure development in our area is well thought out and works in the best way for the area. Also, through the process of creating a Local Plan residents get a chance to have their say on future development and we can listen to your views.
What are we trying to do with our Local Plan?
We are committed to making sure development across the Forest is the best it can be for our local communities. We understand that development is challenging for local residents and our job is to try and manage it in the best way possible for everyone across the Forest, understanding that we have to allow house building somewhere in the Forest as instructed by Government.
Our vision for the Local Plan can be broadly defined into six key objectives that we will believe will help improve the Forest and build us a better future:
- Building a stronger local economy - Supporting our current businesses and bringing the right
new businesses to the area, proving jobs for local people
- Regenerating the area - rebuilding our town centres, bringing unused sites back into use and
helping to provide great new community spaces
- Meeting the needs for new homes - making sure the homes that are built in the Forest are
suitable for local residents and are in keeping with the look and feel of the Forest
- Tackling climate change - where we have development we make sure everything is done to
reduce carbon emission and tackle the climate emergency
- Improving and protecting the environment - any development protect and enhance the
fantastic environment in the Forest of Dean
- Promoting positive healthy choices - where we can, provide opportunities for healthy travel options and other options to help residents stay active and healthy
What would happen if we didn't produce a Local Plan?
Without a Local Plan it is difficult for a council to challenge planning applications from developers and therefore development would happen in a way that may not best suit the district or residents. These proposals may result in unsustainable, unplanned, piecemeal development across the district without the required supporting infrastructure such as roads, schools, etc. There's also a risk that if we fail to produce an up-to-date Local Plan, Central Government may intervene and take over the writing of the Local Plan. This would mean we'd have less control over what development is imposed on the Forest of Dean.
There is a lot of talk of 'growth'; and building new houses. Why does the Forest of Dean need to grow? Can't it stay as it is?
The Government has committed all councils to building a certain number of homes in a certain period of time to meet national housing demand. The council has no say in how many homes have to be built in the district but can influence the type and location . In the Forest of Dean we have been told to allow the building of a minimum of 372 new homes every year or 7440 new homes by 2041.
Through the Local Plan we can make sure that the housing is the right type for our residents and is in the most appropriate places. We can also plan with other agencies to get the right infrastructure such as roads, schools, health and other provisions to support it.
Why has a 20-year Plan Period been chosen?
The Government has set out that a Local Plan has to cover a minimum of 15 years. This is to allow the appropriate amount of time to plan housing and infrastructure projects which take many years to develop and deliver.
How will the Local Plan meet the housing needs of local people?
We want to make sure our residents, in particular our young people, have access to affordable housing. The draft Local Plan will propose a variety of means of providing affordable homes both for rent and for sale at a discounted price. Some affordable homes are expected to be provided on all new housing sites over 10 houses. It is also vital we meet the needs of an ageing population. This could include bungalows, easy access homes, sheltered/supported housing and wheelchair accessible homes.
We can't completely dictate exactly what type of houses are built but we can influence through the Local Plan to get developers to deliver as many affordable homes as possible.
Why do we need so much more land for economic development?
In the same way as house building targets, the Government also dictates how much land we make available for business use.
It is important we make land available for businesses so that Forest businesses can grow and new businesses can start up which will lead to new jobs for residents.
Why does development need to take place in undeveloped areas. Shouldn't it all be taking place in our urban areas?
The minimum number of new homes set by Government exceeds the amount of urban and brownfield land available in the Forest of Dean. The Plan, therefore, will need to identify previously undeveloped land to meet our full need for homes and employment.
What about the impact on our historic buildings and natural environment?
As part of our Local Plan we will always look to reduce the impact of new development on the District's built and natural environment. Overall we want to make sure our plan will protect existing assets and provide improvements for biodiversity.
We will carry our various types of assessment to identify any potential impacts of the plan. The findings of the assessments will inform the policies within the draft Local Plan .