Developer warns of “loss of momentum” with Local Plan delay

A four-year wait for Sheffield’s Local Plan will create uncertainty and cause schemes to lose momentum, says one of the city’s leading experts.

Friday, 15th November 2019, 2:21 pm
Updated Friday, 15th November 2019, 5:54 pm
Rob Crolla, the director of Coda Planning

The long-awaited plan – the blueprint for how the city will be developed – won’t be completed and published until September 2023.

Rob Crolla, the director of Coda Planning, says the delay has caused dismay in the development industry and could cause “a policy vacuum”.

“Securing planning permission is a central and crucial part of the development process – without planning permission there is no ability to build,” Rob explained.

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“It is, therefore, seen as a big risk element in the delivery of any scheme and developers want certainty that any proposal which they commit time and funds to will be granted consent.

“Planning decisions should be made in accordance with the development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise.

“It is imperative that the development plan is adopted and up to date so developers know where they stand in relation to planning risk before committing to a scheme.”

Developers needed to feel a sense of certainty, Rob said. At the moment, this was lacking in Sheffield, he added.

And he warned that the problem would only increase as time progressed without an up to date plan in place.

“The current plan consists of the saved policies of the Sheffield Unitary Development Plan, adopted in 1998, and the Sheffield Core Strategy, adopted in 2009.

“That means we are relying on some policies which are over 20 years old, with the most up to date being 10 years old.

“In addition, the accompanying document to the Core Strategy – the City Policies and Sites DPD – was abandoned in 2013, some five years ago and no new allocations document has emerged since.

“Councils are required to undertake regular reviews of development plan documents to ensure they accord with National Planning Policy.”

Coda submits more planning applications to the council than any other planning consultancy.

“This policy vacuum will lead to further uncertainty and loss of momentum in Sheffield, as the driver of the Sheffield City Region, and the wider economy,” said Rob.

“We have built up a good working relationship with council officers and members at Sheffield Council and we would wish this to continue.

“We recognise the challenges that the council is facing in resourcing a programme that can deliver a robust plan quickly and effectively which provides this certainty.

“If there is any way the development industry can assist in securing this additional resource we would be more than happy to engage in the process.”

Council officers say the plan has been delayed because of government policies. There will also need to be extensive consultation on a draft plan, plus recommendations from inspectors, before a final version can be drawn up.

Once published, the plan will cover the period 2023-2038.