Diary of a Sutton Councillor

Wednesday 19th January 2011 7.30pm

Planning Advisory Group

This was a single item meeting to discuss the implications of changes to the Government’s national policy guidance in respect of backgarden land and proposed revisions to Sutton’s specific policy on backgarden land (DM30) within the proposed submission draft of the Site Development Policies Development Plan Document.

Officers highlighted that Sutton had been at the forefront of seeking to regulate back garden development with the inclusion of policy HSG8 in its first Unitary Development Plan (UDP) adopted in 1995. The current applicable policy adopted in the 2003 UDP requires the ecological value of garden land to be considered when assessing applications for new development.

It was noted that because of the uniqueness of a policy on this issue appeal decisions by planning inspectors were not always felt to be consistent with the aims of the policy.

The council is now required to produce a Local Development Framework to replace the UDP and as part of this process has sought to develop the existing policy on backgarden land to offer additional protection where those gardens are also felt to make an important contribution towards the character and appearance of an area.

The recent national policy change on backgardens to remove them from classification as brownfield sites had prompted a decision to review further the proposed policy. It was noted that the change of national policy was not equivalent to a presumption in principle against the development of back garden land.

A provisional policy was put to the committee which aimed to restrict the loss of all backgarden land beyond the town centres and any development that was allowed would still be considerably restricted.

Officers advised that because this policy would conflict with the Core Planning Strategy which indicates that future housing growth will come from town centre areas the whole of the Site Development Policies DPD may fail to get Inspectorate approval. Following discussion amongst members it was agreed that this more restrictive policy was too risky and a policy that permitted an element of flexibility was more suitable. This allowed for garden sites that had little or no ecological value to be considered for development.

Some changes were proposed to the original policy for inclusion in the DPD to also include consideration of the contribution backgardens make towards mitigating climate change.

Development control officers had been invited to the meeting and were asked for their input on these proposed changes as they would be the ones making decisions based on the policy. The group was advised that they had concerns that the onus to prove the ecological value of the land fell to the council, which would involve additional work, and the definitions of ecological value and climate change mitigations could be expanded to clarify interpretation. Members requested that officers took these comments on board and should seek to provide more detail on these items. It was also requested by Cllr Hall that the requirement for development that is of high quality should be added and this was agreed.

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January 28, 2011 - Posted by | Meeting

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