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Rochford District Core Strategy Examination

The Core Strategy was subject to public examination to determine its soundness and legal compliance between January 2010 (when the Council submitted the Core Strategy Submission Document to the Secretary of State) and November 2011 (when the Inspector’s Report was published).

Inspector’s Report Received – Core Strategy found sound - October 2011

The Inspector concluded that the Rochford District Core Strategy was sound and legally compliant, subject to changes. The changes (including those proposed by the Council and the Inspector in her report) are set out in Schedules A, B and C. The Inspector’s required changes (those in Schedules A and C) are binding on the Council (i.e. if the Council now determine to adopt the Core Strategy, these changes must be included).

These documents can be downloaded below.

Inspector’s Report (PDF 143kb)

Inspector's Report - Schedule A (PDF 64kb)

Inspector’s Report - Schedule B (PDF 176kb)

Inspector’s Report - Schedule C (PDF 18kb)

The Rochford District Core Strategy, along with the Inspector’s Report, were presented to the Council, and subsequently approved and formally adopted on 13 December 2011.

Core Strategy Schedule of Minor Amendments (2011) - September 2011

The future of the Core Strategy was considered at an Extraordinary Council meeting on 31 August 2011. In summary, the Council agreed to revert back to the Core Strategy as originally submitted for examination in January 2010, with minor amendments, as per the suggestion in the Inspector’s letter of 11 August 2011.
A Schedule of Minor Amendments to the Core Strategy Submission Document as originally submitted was produced. These proposed amendments were consulted on between 9 September and 7 October 2011. The Core Strategy and consultation results were then submitted to the Inspector. The comments received during this consultation period were submitted to the Planning Inspector for consideration as part of the examination.

The Schedule of Minor Amendments and the Core Strategy Submission Document as originally submitted in January 2010 with the proposed minor amendments highlighted can be downloaded from here.

Implications of the draft National Planning Policy Framework - September 2011

On 25 July 2011 the Department for Communities and Local Government issued the consultation draft of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). The draft NPPF was intended to bring together Planning Policy Statements, Planning Policy Guidance Notes and some Circulars into a single consolidated document. Among other policy matters, the draft NPPF contained a number of references to the presumption in favour of sustainable development.

The Inspector invited the Council and examination participants to submit any comments about the implications of this policy development for the Core Strategy examination. The deadline for the submissions was 7 October 2011. The draft NPPF and responses that were submitted to the consultation can be downloaded here.

Request to Suspend the Core Strategy Examination – July / August 2011

The Council wrote to the Planning Inspectorate on 29 July 2011 to request that the examination be suspended until December 2011. The decision to make this request was made by the Council on 21 July 2011 following Court rulings that changes to the planning system by the Secretary of State were unlawful, and in light of the Localism Bill (which had a significant impact on planning at a local level). In short, the Inspector did not agree to this request but set out how the Core Strategy could be progressed. The correspondence between the Council and the Inspector can be downloaded using this link.

Review of Sustainability Appraisal - June 2011

Following the Forest Heath Case (Save Historic Newmarket v. Forest Heath District Council) which created new case law on how to undertake Sustainability Appraisals, the Council asked the Inspector to delay the issuing of her final report to enable a review of Rochford District’s Sustainability Appraisal to be undertaken. The Planning Inspectorate accepted this request.

The Council produced a draft review of the Core Strategy Sustainability Appraisal and comments were invited on this between 13 June and 11 July 2011. Following analysis of the comments received on the draft document, a final version was produced called ‘Core Strategy Sustainability Appraisal Addendum 2011’. The Core Strategy Sustainability Appraisal Addendum 2011 was then submitted to the Inspector on 26 July 2011. The draft and final versions of the Sustainability Appraisal Addendum, as well as comments received to the consultation, can be downloaded using this link.

Implications of planning policy changes announced in the 2011 budget – April 2011

The Inspector asked participants of the examination if they had any views as to how the planning policy changes that were announced in the 2011 Budget (particularly the Written Ministerial Statement 'Planning for Growth' issued by The Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, Minister of State, on 23 March 2011 and the further details contained in the Treasury's 'The Plan for Growth') might affect the case of participants and the soundness of the Core Strategy. The Inspector’s letter and the responses received can be downloaded here .

Responses to Cala Homes Judgement February 2011

On 7 February 2011 a judgement of the High Court relating to the weight that can be given to the Secretary of State’s intention to abolish Regional Spatial Strategies was made (Cala Homes (South) Limited v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government).

The High Court ruled that Councils could regard the letter from the Secretary of State, and the intention to revoke Regional Spatial Strategies, as a material consideration.

Examination participants were provided with an opportunity to comment on this judgement and the implications for the examination. The Inspector’s letter and the responses received can be downloaded using this link

Core Strategy Schedule of Changes – October 2010

The Government announced in May/June 2010 that Regional Spatial Strategies were going to be abolished, and it was suggested that this should be a material consideration. The Inspector asked for views on this.

Therefore during the examination, in light of the Government’s announcement to abolish Regional Spatial Strategies and their associated targets, the Council decided to review the housing numbers set out in the Core Strategy Submission Document. The Core Strategy Schedule of Changes was produced in October 2010. This also included additional Topic Papers on issues resulting from changes to government policy and a Sustainability Appraisal of these changes (an assessment of the social, economic and environmental impacts of the amendments to the strategy). The proposed schedule of changes to the Core Strategy Submission Document was consulted on between 18 October and 30 November 2010.

Hearing sessions on the proposed schedule of changes to the Core Strategy Submission Document were held on 1 and 2 February 2011. Information relating to the proposed schedule of changes and the hearings sessions can be downloaded here.

Affordable Housing Hearing Session – September 2010

Rochford District Council sought comments on the Draft Affordable Housing Viability Study and published the final report in July 2010. The hearing session on Affordable Housing took place on 7 September 2010. The responses to the draft study, the final Affordable Housing Viability Study and responses to the hearing session can be downloaded using this link.

Implications of the Government’s statement on Regional Spatial Strategies and changes to PPS3 – June 2010

Following the change in Government in May 2010, a statement was issued which set out the Government’s intention to do away with Regional Spatial Strategies (the East of England Plan covers Rochford District). These plans set regional housing, employment and other targets which local planning authorities have to conform to. Guidance was issued that the Government’s intention could be a material consideration in plan making, which would mean that the regional targets would not have to be followed.

PPS3, which was the national planning policy statement on housing, was reissued in June 2010 with the following amendments:

  • The definition of previously developed land (in Annex B) excluded private residential gardens
  • The national indicative minimum density of 30 dwellings per hectare was deleted from paragraph 47

Following these changes in government policy the Inspector wrote to participants in the examination process, including the Council, asking for their views on how these changes may impact on the Core Strategy. Information relating to these changes can be downloaded here.

Additional Information Requested by Inspector Post Examination – May 2010

During the hearing sessions in May 2010, the Inspector requested that the Council produce additional information for the Core Strategy examination. In response, the Council prepared the following documents:

  • An audit trail for the general housing locations identified
  • A revised version of Topic Paper 1 (which was found at the hearing to have some text missing)
  • Additional text to explain the purpose and context of the Transportation Strategy SPD
  • A vision specific to the District

The above documents and respondents' views on these can be downloaded here.

Examination Hearings – May 2010

The Core Strategy was submitted to the Secretary of State for independent examination in January 2010. Rochford District's Core Strategy is the main document of the Local Development Framework (LDF) - a collection of documents that will determine how the District develops in the future.

The examination process includes a number of hearing sessions to discuss various elements of the Core Strategy, the first of which was in May 2010, following the pre-hearing meeting. The Inspector carrying out the examination on behalf of the Secretary of State identified a number of Matters and Issues to be discussed during the hearing sessions. Information on the pre-hearing meeting, the Matters and Issues and respondents views on these can be downloaded here

Core Strategy Submitted to Secretary of State – January 2010

The Core Strategy was submitted to the Secretary of State for independent examination on 14 January 2010. The Core Strategy is the main document of the Rochford District Local Development Framework - a collection of documents that will determine how the District develops in the future, over the next fifteen years and beyond.
In addition to the Core Strategy, the Council also submitted a number of supporting documents to the Secretary of State. These include the representations submitted during pre-submission consultation, as well as the results of previous community involvement and other evidence.