Friday, 17 June 2016

Inspector has rejected calls for “eco-community” to be removed from Local Plan

Regular readers of this blog will know that I have been a persistent opponent of the so-called “eco-community” proposed for West Carclaze and Baal, and that I spoke against it at the recent Examination in Public (EiP).

The Inspector from the EiP has just released his “Schedule of Post Hearing Changes for Consultation,” and I am disappointed to report that he has rejected calls for the “eco-community” to be removed from Local Plan.

The process has however, over recent months, led to the addition of more text around the nature of the developments. The relevant sections are as follows, with the specific text added by the Inspector in the very last few days shown in bold.

Policy 2 supports a “mixed use development to deliver the eco-community at West Carclaze / Baal and Par Docks, to help deliver an exemplar development that provides a showcase for sustainable, greener, low carbon living.”

Paragraph 1.31 states that the “eco-communities at West Carclaze, Baal and Par Docks will be identified in the Cornwall Site Allocations Development Plan Document and Neighbourhood Plans. The standards expected for the proposed eco communities are set out in Policy 3 and guidance will be provided in the Site Allocations DPD” but “the Council will monitor the delivery of the eco-community sites to ensure delivery. If proposals have failed to progress sufficiently towards delivery within two years of adoption of the Local Plan this area of the Plan will be reviewed to consider redistribution of the housing apportionment for the area.”

Policy 3 meanwhile specifies “the provision of eco-communities at West Carclaze/Baal and Par Docks with an indicative overall scale of about 1,500 and 500 dwellings respectively. The final scale and capacity of these proposals should be confirmed through the Site Allocations Plan.

“The proposals should be led by a masterplan and design code that will set out the framework for the development, and reflect the aspiration for environmental quality, including the delivery of all of the following alongside the other policies of this plan:

- 30% affordable housing and 5% self and/or custom build housing;
- Improved access to public transport and non-car travel modes.

"And for the West Carclaze/Baal sites:

- Provision of employment space, Carluddon technology park and space for further economic growth;
- The provision of a new local centre to include facilities for health, neighbourhood shopping ,community facilities and a new primary school ;
- Strategic scale open space with public access and trails linking into existing networks as part of green infrastructure improvements;
- The retention of the Sky Tip and other distinctive landscape features as part of the green infrastructure of the site; 
- Demonstrate high levels of energy efficiency in the fabric of buildings on the site;
- Strategic Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems to reduce flood risk on and beyond the site;
- Meeting all of the regulated energy requirements of the development from renewable and low carbon sources on or near to the site;
- Provision of low carbon heat via a heat network with consideration given to sourcing that heat from geothermal resources within the vicinity of the site; and

"Sites for the eco-communities will be identified through the Site Allocations DPD."

Though the Inspector has supported the provision of 2,000 new properties within the “eco-communities” (1,500 at West Carclaze & Baal, and 500 at Par Docks), he has also taken the view that within the Plan period only 1,200 units are likely to be delivered (namely 900 at West Carclaze & Baal, and 500 at Par Docks).

The 300 housing units that he has removed from the “eco-community” allocation have been reassigned to the St Austell Community Network Area.

It will be a while before I fully get my head around the implications of the caveats added to the "eco-communities" policies by the Inspector, specifically with regard to the Site Allocations DPD and the two-year timetable for progress, but I will post again with an update in the near-future.

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