Woodnesborough is a small village near Sandwich in East Kent.
- When Hume Planning Consultancy was instructed by the landowner, the site had no planning status. The land was located beyond the adopted local plan village boundary and therefore the site's potential had to be examined in the context of a number of restrictive policies that applied to the "countryside".
- When first instructed, the land was not the LPA's preferred location for future development and a competing site at the eastern end of the village had significantly greater planning status having been allocated for housing and community uses in Dover's draft 2008 Site Allocation Document. Furthermore, the client's land scored poorly in the LPA's Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (known as the SHLAA) because of a number of technical concerns and a perception that the site represented an important "village gap".
- Hume Planning undertook extensive promotional activity which included resolving access, transport, water, infrastructure, landscape, heritage ecological and tree matters.
- A "planning application led" approach was considered justified because of;
1. the urgent need to deliver the new community hall and the support of the Parish Council to deliver the community building;
2. it was evident that the technical constraints could be overcome;
3. the delay to the programming of the LDF review process.
- It was also necessary to promote the site in parallel to the application, which later resulted in the land being allocated in the emerging Dover's Land Allocation Document as a replacement to the earlier preferred site. The promotional LDF work and the advancing position of the LAD document eventually allowed officers to support the application for a residential scheme for 24 houses on a greenfield site which will also deliver a new community hall and land for the Parish Council some 18 months before the Land Allocations Document was finally approved in January 2015.
- This project is a good example of the advantages of collaboration with local decision makers at grass roots level to understand the aspirations of the community and then to find ways of delivering the facility in a timely fashion in advance of the local plan timetable.
- This scheme took some time to achieve permission but does show that a combination of a flexible applicant, willing to tailor proposals to meet the individual needs of the community, a strong and visionary Parish Council and the constructive approach of the LPA can accelerate the delivery of beneficial development where the local plan process has been delayed.
- The adjacent photo shows the community building taking shape in early 2015. This building must be completed before the first occupation of the residential development which has also recently commenced.