Frequently Asked Questions (Issues and Options Consultation)
Why is the Council updating the Local Plan, and why do we need one?
The current Melton Local Plan 2011-36 was adopted in October 2018. Government legislation requires local councils to review their Local Plan at least every five years, the purpose of the review being to assess whether any of the policies of the local plan need to be revised. In our case, the formal Review was considered by Council in September 2023, and found that a number of the policies needed changing. The Council has therefore started the Local Plan Update by writing an Issues and Options Report for consultation, and you are invited to comment on it.
Decisions on development should be made in accordance with a Local Plan. It is an essential statement of the local planning policies for deciding planning applications. Without an up-to-date Local Plan, planning applications would be dealt with on a more ad-hoc basis and the results would be less joined-up and poorer overall. In any case, the government requires that Local Plans are prepared and has the powers to “step in” and take over if they are not produced.
What exactly is being consulted on?
The Issues and Options Consultation Document sets out the Council’s preferred options and/or key issues for updating the vision, objectives and 32 out of 44 of the currently adopted policies. This includes:
Strategic policies for housing development, but not updating the Borough’s housing requirement
Housing policies such as mix, space standards, affordable housing and self-build
Employment and retail policies such as employment development, town centre regeneration and tourism
Environmental policies such as biodiversity, open space, climate change, flooding and design
Infrastructure policies such as transport, parking and broadband
The Sustainability Appraisal Draft Scoping Report accompanies this and sets out the assessment method that the Council proposes to use to assess the sustainability credentials of the proposed update.
What will happen after the consultation?
After the consultation on the Issues and Options report is completed, the approximate timetable is:
Consider the comments received – January to March 2024
Write the Local Plan Update ready for Council consideration – April to July 2024
Consult on the Submission Local Plan (Regulation 19) – September to October 2024
Submit the Local Plan for formal Examination by a Planning Inspector – May 2025
More information can be found in Council’s Local Development Scheme.
Who do I ask about progress on the Melton Mowbray Distributor Road?
Whilst the Melton Local Plan Update includes policies (in particular policies SS3 and SS5) to support the delivery of the Melton Mowbray Distributor Road as part of the wider strategic development of the town, Leicestershire County Council is the Highways Authority with responsibility for the scheme. Latest news and contact details are available on the County Council website.
Why is it called Issues and Options and how is it different from a Draft Local Plan?
The report sets out the issues being considered, and then includes potential alternative options for how to deal with those issues. Hence Issues and Options. For example, for policy EN2, Biodiversity and Geodiversity, the paper looks at three possible ways to improve the policy and explains what the Council thinks are the pros and cons of each option. This way, people can tell us what they think should happen earlier in the policy-writing process. In contrast, a Draft Plan would be more specific and would generally set out a single new version of each policy, asking for comments.
What is the difference between the Local Plan Review and the Local Plan Update?
This is new phrasing because of a change in the law a few years ago. A Local Plan Review (also known as a Local Plan 5-year Review) is when a Council assesses its existing Local Plan and decides whether the plan is still effective and appropriate or whether it needs to be changed. This Review must be done at least every five years. If the Review finds that the Local Plan needs to be changed, this initiates a separate and much longer process to revise or update the Local Plan. The council carried out its Local Plan Review in September 2023 which found that some of the policies need to be changed. You can read the full documents relating to this decision here. This is the first consultation stage of the Local Plan Update.
Where can I see the evidence being used for the Issues and Options Report?
The Council publishes evidence here as it is produced. Any new evidence will be published on this webpage as the Local Plan Update progresses. Some of the evidence used for the adopted Melton Local Plan 2011 – 2036 is still relevant and is available on the webpage.
Will the Issues and Options Report affect my neighbour’s planning application, or mine?
The contents of the Issues and Options Report are highly unlikely to have any impact on decisions about a planning application within the next couple of years, including any planning applications that have already been made. This is for two reasons. Firstly, the Issues and Options Report does not contain any detailed policy changes. Secondly, this is only the first consultation in the Local Plan Update process, and therefore we are still at a very early stage. Later stages of the Local Plan may have a greater influence. Once it is adopted (that is, it has reached its final stage) in a few years’ time the Update will replace large parts of the existing Local Plan and will then have a high level of influence on planning applications that are being considered at that time.
What is the National Planning Policy Framework? What about the Planning Practice Guidance?
These are written by the Government and include formal policies and guidance on planning matters which must be taken into account when Local Plans are written and when planning applications are being decided upon. You can read the National Planning Policy Framework and the Planning Practice Guidance.
Is the Council consulting on anything else at the same time?
The Council is consulting on a new Climate Change Strategy at the same time. The consultation on the Climate Change Strategy and on the Local Plan Issues and Options are separate and cover different, even if related, subject matters. If you are interested in commenting on both consultations, ensure that you do so separately. The link to the Climate Change Strategy consultation webpage will be available in the main Melton Borough Council consultation page.
What is this “Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report”?
This report is the first step in preparing a Sustainability Appraisal of the Local Plan Update. The Sustainability Appraisal (SA for short) will consider the overall impacts of the revised policies on society, the economy and the environment to help maximise the sustainability benefits of the Local Plan Update. It is a legal requirement to prepare it. The Scoping Report contains information about the area and proposes an assessment method to use and is open to comments from anyone who is interested.
Why does it take so long to update a Local Plan?
There are legal requirements set out in Planning Acts and Regulations which prescribe how a Local Plan is to be written. This includes consultation requirements and the need to have the plan considered by an independent Planning Inspector. The timetable for preparation is set out in the Council’s Local Development Scheme.
How much employment land do we need?
At this Issues and Options stage, this is not certain as the Council needs to update its employment land requirement evidence. Once the Council has new evidence on the demand and need for new employment development the Local Plan will be able to take that into account and, if necessary, allocate new sites. The evidence will be published on the website when it is complete.
How much housing land do we need?
The Council has considered this matter carefully and has come to the view that there is no need to change the Local Plan’s overall housing target or add any new housing sites as allocations in the Local Plan Update. You can find the full reasons given in the Local Plan Review document against policy SS2, which concludes that no update to this policy is needed. In summary, there has been limited change to the overall housing need since the Local Plan was adopted, the target allows for enough unmet housing need from other Leicestershire authorities, and housing delivery plus existing undeveloped housing sites give a lot of headroom to provide flexibility to the Council going forward.
Can I submit a site for development?
It is possible that additional or replacement sites for employment uses such as business, industry and warehousing will be allocated in the Local Plan. The Council would welcome contact from potential developers or landowners of such sites. However, the Council is not seeking proposals for housing sites as the Local Plan Update does not cover housing need or allocations.
The Council has assessed the existing adopted Local Plan and has decided that no additional housing allocations are required as part of this update. Therefore, the Local Plan Update will not be considering or consulting on additional housing allocations.
How does the Local Plan Update consider health, education, transport, leisure and other facilities and infrastructure?
The Local Plan contains policies to ensure that development includes appropriate facilities and infrastructure – examples include Policy EN7 on open space provision, Policy EN12 on drainage and Policy IN4 on broadband. You can comment on the options for various infrastructure related policies in the Issues and Options report.
What do Regulation 18 and Regulation 19 mean?
These are technical terms for the two different stages of Local Plan preparation a Council must undertake before it submits a Local Plan to be examined by an independent Planning Inspector. “Regulation 18” is effectively the first compulsory consultation that is required – Melton Borough Council has decided to carry out this stage now. “Regulation 19” is the second required consultation on the draft plan they the Council intends to submit for consideration of an independent Planning Inspector – Melton Borough Council will do this in late 2024.
What does a “sound” local plan mean?
“Sound” means generally appropriate. In terms of planning, Local Plans are sound if they meet the tests contained in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which are that they are:
(a) Positively prepared – providing a strategy which, as a minimum, seeks to meet the area’s objectively assessed needs; and is informed by agreements with other authorities, so that unmet need from neighbouring areas is accommodated where it is practical to do so and is consistent with achieving sustainable development;
(b) Justified – an appropriate strategy, taking into account the reasonable alternatives, and based on proportionate evidence;
(c) Effective – deliverable over the plan period, and based on effective joint working on cross-boundary strategic matters that have been dealt with rather than deferred, as evidenced by the statement of common ground; and
(d) Consistent with national policy – enabling the delivery of sustainable development in accordance with the policies in this Framework and other statements of national planning policy, where relevant.
The role of the independent Planning Inspector is to decide whether a Local Plan submitted to them is sound.
What is a Statement of Common Ground?
This is a document which contains agreements between key organisations (including Councils) about planning matters which affect more then just one Council area. They often relate to the amount and broad locations of new homes and employment development as well as significant items of infrastructure.
Does this consultation impact my planning application?
This consultation will not impact anyone current planning application that is pending consideration nor does it change any determined planning applications