The Planning Policy Team prepares Development Plan Documents (known as Local Plans). These are documents which set out the strategic priorities for development of the borough, including land allocations and policies which cover issues such as housing, employment, community, environment and heritage. These planning policies are used by the council when determining planning applications or enforcing unauthorised development.
At present these policies are contained within a package of Adopted Development Plan Documents that cover all planning issues and also guides where and what kind of development will take place locally in the next 15 years or so through site allocations. These will be replaced by the emerging Local Plan to 2030.
In March 2012, the Government published the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which replaced all Planning Policy Statements (PPS) and Planning Policy Guidance (PPG).
It was been designed to stimulate growth and promote sustainable development and make the planning system less complex and more accessible. Subsequently, a number of Planning Policy Guidance documents have been published to support the NPPF.
The government require local authorities to interpret and apply the NPPF policies locally, and as such the council has prepared the New Local Plan to 2030 to meet these requirements. This Local Plan is in the form of one document that will cover the whole borough, and will replace the package of documents currently adopted (with the exception of Chilmington Green AAP).
The Local Plan 2030 was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in December 2017 and the public hearing sessions for the Examination in Public were held between April and June 2018. More details can be found by visiting Local Plan to 2030.
Visit the Communities and Local Government website for further information about the NPPF and national planning system.
The Planning Policy team can provide advice on pre-allocation Local Plan site discussions, and offer planning policy guidance. More information can be found at Planning Policy Advice.
A Neighbourhood Plan covers a geographic area and can be taken forward by town and parish councils or 'neighbourhood forums'. It will be the role of the local planning authority to agree who should be the neighbourhood.
A Neighbourhood Plan, if approved, becomes part of the statutory development plan for that area and will be used in determining planning applications. Several parishes in Ashford have started the process and two have been adopted as of mid 2018. See Neighbourhood Plans for more information.
The Policy Team also monitor the production of the plans they produce, and the policies contained within them, in a report called the Authority Monitoring Reports. This report also provides information on the demographic structure, the growth of housing and employment and covers issues such as transport, environment, community facilities, duty to co-operate and public consultation.
Every six months or so the the Policy Team produces a Development Update that provides the latest information on planning applications and approvals on major development taking place in Ashford.