The first public Dorset Local Plan Consultation closed yesterday (15/03/2021).
So what happens now?
Council officers will now analyse the replies and this will advise (not necessarily change) the contents of the draft Local Plan.
When Does this Process End?
The new local plan must be in place by December 2023. Before this happens it must be revised and go to another public consultation. After that it will be submitted to the Secretary of State. Currently the Secretary of State is Priti Patel. She will appoint an inspector from the Planning Inspectorate to carry out an independent public examination of the plan. This examination must be complete and the Local Plan in place before December 2023.
During this examination there will be the opportunity to criticize (either negatively or positively) aspects of the plan as well as aspects of the plan process. There will written submissions and (almost certainly) public hearings where individuals and interested groups will be allowed to address the Inspector and his/her team.
What there is still to do
So what do the residents of Ferndown, West Parley and Dorset need to do now?
The sheer inertia within a large council like Dorset will mean that every change to the draft Local Plan will have to be pushed forward against a tide of opposition. Every small change to the wording, let alone policy changes, will be resisted. No change will be made with enthusiasm.
So in order to exert the maximum pressure on the council we all must continue to highlight the issues within this Local Plan that we are concerned about. We must (at every opportunity) bring up these issues with our council representatives.
Tell your Councillors about how appalling you find it that the council is planning to build green belt. Tell them how shocked you are that Special Character Areas are being secretly done away with.
We must not stay silent and rely on Dorset Council to do the right thing. There is a risk that if we just dutifully stand down like obedient citizens then the examination of responses we have made so far will be treated simply as a paper-work exercise.
It is also a time where we we see what metal our local Councillors are made of.
Those Councillors (for Ferndown & West Parley) Are:
If you are elsewhere in Dorset you will find your Councillor on THIS page
The second consultation is going to be months away. Getting things changed through that second consultation will be even harder than in the first. So every pressure we can exert now in support of our responses to the first draft will pay dividends.
There appears to be no public target timetable within Dorset Council for this plan, or at least none that the author has found. So we must stay vigilant and ensure that the next milestone does not end up (like the last one) losing a significant amount of the allotted consultation time due to poor publicity from the council.
Register to receive Planning Policy email updates
Put the onus on the council to keep you informed. Register today with them to be on the planning policy development email list.
You can do this on THIS Dorset Council link.
Although it says “take the survey”, it is not a survey. Neither is it expired. It is an email registration and appears to work.