Braybrooke Parish Council response to clarification questions
Independent Examination of Braybrooke Neighbourhood Plan - Examiner’s questions for Braybrooke Parish Council
1. Is the Parish Council satisfied that the Neighbourhood Plan does not breach Human Rights (within the meaning of the Human Rights Act 1998)?
The Parish Council is not aware of any issues arising from the Neighbourhood Plan that affect Human Rights within the meaning of the Human Rights Act 1998. No consultee has raised any concerns.
2. Policy H1: How is it intended to ensure that the works to the granary store are carried out and completed? How is the “northern section of Top Orchard” to be defined? Are the requirements for public access/funding for seating for community use likely to meet the necessary legal tests (NPPF, paragraph 57)? The agents for the landowners state that the site can accommodate one three-bedroomed and one four-bedroomed dwelling. Please comment.
The retention and restoration of the granary store (which at present is no more than a wooden skeleton) was a suggestion by the present landowner which the NDP team wished to support. Although part of the historic buildings associated with the (Grade II listed) Old Rectory next door, it is outside the curtilage defined by Historic England so not subject to listed building protection. We would expect to see its restoration as a planning condition with the developer required to make detailed proposals for acceptance by the Local Planning Authority.
The Northern Section of the Old Orchard is that part north of a prominent protected tree in the centre of the site. The NNC (Kettering Area) Local Plan, at policy BRA2, provides for “an area of open space in the northern part of the site to protect the setting of the Old Rectory”. The NDP policy reinforces this but, on the advice of the planning authority and in line with that Plan, does not seek to define the boundary of the open area more precisely, in order not to fetter the ability of an applicant to design suitable access points for traffic.
We believe these conditions should pass the legal tests of “necessary to make the development acceptable in planning terms; directly related to the development; and fairly and reasonably related in scale and kind to the development”. The landowner’s agents have indicated an intention that the Top Yard and Top Orchard site be developed as a single development. This makes the long term protection of the open space even more important for the acceptability of the development in planning terms. Public access will contribute to ensuring that, and to protecting a setting that should be visible to the public. Braybrooke village has a very limited amount of public space, and this condition is intended to go a small way to redress that.
The landowner’s agent does of course wish for commercial reasons to maximise the development. However Braybrooke has, as is shown in the Housing Needs analysis (Appendix 3 to the NDP), much more than its share of houses of 4 or more bedrooms; and a need for smaller houses. The NDP team was anxious to avoid further, inevitably speculative, building of large houses. The analysis also shows a need for affordable housing, but we accepted that the brownfield nature of the site – requiring the clearance of undergrowth, decaying machinery and a concrete raft - means it would not be economic to build affordable housing units on it. The result is undeniably a compromise, but one that the landowner and his agent have indicated they find acceptable.
3. Policy H5 d): What is meant by the “level of service provision within the Parish”? What does this requirement entail?
Braybrooke Parish is characterised by its peaceful rural nature. It has limited services – no school, no shops, no health facilities, only a pub, a village hall, a church, a Baptist chapel and occasional mobile vendors. The village is fortunate (by rural standards) to have an hourly bus service but residents rely mainly on motor vehicles for normal services. This requirement goes to protect that environment by ensuring that windfall development is small in scale, militating against any large or dense development that would increase the traffic in surrounding roads, or cause bustle and noise in the village.
4. Policy ENV 1: Please identify any sites that are in private ownership, either wholly or in part. Have the owners of any such sites been specifically consulted on the Parish Council’s proposals for Local Green Space designation? Have there been objections to the proposed designation from owners? If so, please provide details and comment thereon.
All of the identified local green spaces are wholly in private ownership. The Plan itself (para 7.70) and the Consultation Statement (para 6.1 fourth tiret) record that when individual owners were consulted orally while the Plan was being drawn up, all supported the designation. All have since had ample opportunity to indicate any reservations, and none has done so. It may be seen as showing their full engagement in the Plan’s development that some did object to a proposal to include their properties in a “local listing” (Consultation Statement para 6.1 first tiret) and their objection was accepted.
5. Policy ENV 4: Other than those shown on Figure 8, how are notable trees etc going to be identified?
One of the purposes of a tree survey as prescribed in ENV 4 is to identify notable trees. These are trees that might be proposed for protection (Tree Preservation Order) “because of their intrinsic beauty, the special contribution they make to the landscape or street scene, or because of some other special quality, such as rarity or historic significance” (NNC website). Unfortunately the register of protected trees in Braybrooke is in need of revision so there is no currently accurate register of notable trees. The Parish Council will therefore assess each development proposal and undertake a non-technical site check for candidate notable trees as part of its response to planning applications once the NP has been made.
6. Policy ENV 5: Is this policy intended to apply to all proposals (even the most minor development) in all locations within the Parish? What are the “known” and “potential bat habitat areas”; also, the “sensitive areas”?
“Known” bat habitat areas are those where bats have been detected, and “potential” habitat areas are those of a type that supports bats. “Sensitive” areas are those providing roosting sites (as opposed to foraging).
To avoid biodiversity net loss, bat protection policy does need to be applied at small scale: one inappropriate light can prevent bats from hunting, one tree might be the only roost site in the Plan Area for a particular species, one roof-space the only breeding site. Figure 9 is intended to provide focus for the policy (Figure 9 identifies the known and sensitive areas, and national legislation covers the need to accommodate potential areas). National best practice is that all development proposals, in settlements and in open countryside, (except, e.g., porches that do not affect roofs, trees, etc) should take the precautionary approach inherent in ENV 5.
Independent Examination of Braybrooke Neighbourhood Plan
7. Policy ENV 6: Is it intended to safeguard all habitats and species of whatever description?
The intention of ENV 6 was to protect (at appropriate levels) all species and habitats adversely affected by any development in the Plan Area (i.e. not just those identified and mapped in ENV 3, 4 and 5).
The policy was originally drafted thus:
“Policy ENV 6 Biodiversity and habitat connectivity
All new development proposals will be expected to safeguard habitats and species, including those of local significance, by planning for biodiversity net gain. If significant harm to biodiversity cannot be avoided (through relocating to an alternative site with less harmful impacts), adequately mitigated, or compensated for, planning permission should be refused, in conformity with paragraph 180 of the National Planning Policy Framework 2021 and following the objectives of the biodiversity net gain (metric 3.0 and small sites) methodology.
Development proposals should not adversely affect the habitat connectivity provided by the wildlife corridors identified in Figure 10.”
In its response to the Regulation 14 consultation, NNC provided the amended draft, arguing that wording that repeats NNPF para 180 and the Environment Bill (as it then was) should be removed. That however had the effect of removing reference to the biodiversity methodology in the Environment Act, which provides the missing guidance on what is an appropriate level of protection and how to balance different aspects.
We would be more than content to see the original wording reinstated.
8. Policy ENV 11: Is “external lighting” intended to include features lit by internal illumination? Will it be possible for all types of lighting to be directed downwards with a beam angle below 70 degrees? Does not the requirement for no significant adverse effects cover details like this? Will “current best practice for bats” cover other nocturnal wildlife or are there additional best practice sources to which the Parish Council would wish to refer?
Logically, internal lighting that illuminates the exterior must count as external illumination.
The guidance and regulations for lighting and bats are appropriate for nocturnal wildlife generally, but the lower reliance on darkness for hunting by owls, nocturnal terrestrial mammals etc. means there are no other quotable best-practice guidelines that we are aware of.
Policy ENV 11 follows the best-practice guidance provided by the sources referenced in para 7.116 and 117. The policy cannot absolutely preclude use of non-compliant lighting because (as a non-statutory policy) its scope is limited by the expectation that a planning consent decision will be made by balancing the merits of the development against the interests of the bats.
9. Policy ENV 12: What are the “climate change targets” and the “locally applicable flood mitigation strategies and infrastructure” that will need to be referenced under the first paragraph of the policy? How is “a location susceptible to flooding” to be defined? Does this include all the zones and areas shown on Figure 19? Is it the intention that, even for a single dwelling or an agricultural barn, all the bullet points in the policy shall apply (for example, the requirement for a hydrological study and a Surface Water Drainage Strategy)?
“Climate change targets” include existing national targets (“Net Zero”) and any future regional or local targets that may be adopted.
The River Jordan has a flood mitigation barrier operated by the Environment Agency with overflow into the hollows in the castle site. Before this was built (1980s) the river regularly flooded areas of the village. Additionally, proposals for new floodwater management infrastructure, including re-profiling and re-wilding sections of the river and its tributaries, are likely to emerge and will need to be protected to the extent that they are intended to mitigate flooding.
Yes, Fig 19 shows the areas susceptible to flooding, as defined by the Environment Agency.
The requirement for surveys, strategies etc should be proportionate to the development proposed.
10. Policy CF1 – fundraising and volunteering: How is this going to be evaluated realistically in any viability assessment? Is the policy intended to apply to playing fields? If so, please comment on the representations of Sport England.
Economic viability in this sense would be assessed by testing the willingness and ability of commercial or voluntary bodies to own and operate the facility, in the same way that Assets of Community Value are tested during a moratorium (Localism Act 2011 section 94). We are content for a similar time period to be applied (6 months) if this helps to make the policy easier to evaluate for planning determinations.
The only playing field in the Plan area is the Braybrooke cricket ground, which is covered by Policy ENV1 and not Policy CF1. Therefore Sport England is not objecting.
11. Policy PC 1: Is it only proposals and improvements that will support all businesses/ households that will be supported? What if a proposal supports some but not all properties in the Parish?
The intention of the policy would be better achieved by removing the word “all”, so it will read ‘Proposals to provide improved access to faster broadband for businesses and households …’
12. Policy BE3: What is meant by subservient building materials?
The condition is intended to say that where an extension or small free-standing building is proposed so that a dwelling can be used for work, its location, size, mass, and appearance (“facing material used”) must not dominate the original dwelling.
13. Policy BE4 – conversion of commercial buildings: What is the thinking behind the inclusion of commercial buildings in this policy?
This wording is intended to include equestrian structures and buildings that are already partly in commercial use as a result of previous diversification projects.
14. Policy BE5: Is there any significance in referring to proposals “within Braybrooke parish”? Will not the policy apply to the whole of the neighbourhood area / parish?
No significance: these words are otiose since the NDP area and Braybrooke Parish are synonymous.