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Flintshire County Council Unitary Development Plan 2000-2015
Adopted 28th September 2011

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1 Introduction

The Unitary Development Plan - Ensuring a Sustainable Future for Flintshire

1.1

Flintshire occupies a unique border location in the North East corner of Wales, serving as the gateway to North Wales, and performing a central role in the operation of the sub-region. Characterised by diversity, Flintshire boasts a significant and prosperous industrial heartland, a thriving pattern of settlements supporting a growing population, an effective transport network, and a broad range of landscapes, environments, habitats and species, some of internationally recognised importance.

1.2

With such diversity comes significant and potentially conflicting pressures - for growth, expansion and development on the one hand, and for conservation, protection and enhancement on the other. The Planning System and in particular the Flintshire Unitary Development Plan (UDP), has a key role to play in facilitating the correct balance to ensure that where development takes place, it is carried out in a sustainable manner which maximises the nature and quality of the development, and minimises the negative impact it has.

1.3

The UDP provides both the strategic and detailed framework for land use planning in the County up to the year 2015. It is an important document that will help shape Flintshire’s future in a physical and environmental sense, as well as influencing it in economic and social terms.


The Planning Framework in Flintshire

1.4

This document is the ‘adopted’ version of the Unitary Development Plan for Flintshire for the 15 year period 2000 to 2015. The aim of the Plan is to provide a framework for making rational and consistent decisions on planning applications, and to guide development to appropriate locations. The preparation of the Plan has allowed local people, businesses and others with an interest in the County, an opportunity to shape the communities and environment of the future. It identifies land for new housing, employment, retailing and other forms of development and sets out general policies to control new development, changes in the use of land or buildings, and to protect the environment from insensitive change. The Plan also sets out the basis to bring about sustainable development.

1.5 The Plan has been drawn up in the light of national and regional planning policy and the policies of other key public bodies such as the Environment Agency and the Countryside Council for Wales. It also takes into consideration other plans and strategies produced by the Council including the Countryside Strategy, Local Transport Plan, Biodiversity Action Plan, Regeneration Strategy, Local Housing Strategy, and is consistent with the Council’s Community Strategy.

1.6 The purpose of town and country planning is summarised in para 1.2.1 of Planning Policy Wales (February 2011): “The planning system regulates the development and use of land in the public interest. It should reconcile the needs of development and conservation, securing economy, efficiency and amenity in the use of land, and protecting natural resources and the historic environment. A well functioning planning system is fundamental for sustainable development.”

1.7 Under the Local Government (Wales) Act 1994, each local planning authority in Wales was required to prepare a Unitary Development Plan (UDP) for its administrative area. This requirement is crucial to the present ‘plan led’ planning system as explained in para 3.1.2 of Planning Policy Wales (February 2011) UDP’s “should provide a firm basis for rational and consistent decisions on planning applications and appeals. Section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 requires that, if regard is to be had to the development plan for the purposes of any determination to be made under the Planning Acts, the determination must be made in accordance with the plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise. Conversely, applications that are not in accordance with relevant policies in the plan should not be allowed unless material considerations justify the grant of planning permission.” The Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 requires each authority in Wales to prepare a Local Development Plan (LDP) for its area. However, under transistional arrangements, the Council has progressed the UDP to adoption, prior to commencing work on an LDP.

1.8 For most people, involvement with the planning system happens when they submit a planning application, or seek to object to a planning application. However, given that such planning applications will be determined on the basis of the UDP, it is important to be aware of the policies and proposals in the UDP.

 

Existing Development Plans in Flintshire

1.9 Prior to local government reorganisation in April 1996, a two tier system of development plans was in operation. County Councils prepared Structure Plans which were strategic in nature, whereas District or Borough Councils produced more detailed Local Plans. The adopted UDP replaces the following development plans in Flintshire:

Plan Title
#

Plan Period
#

Status
#

Clwyd County Council

Structure Plan First Alteration

1986 - 1996

Adopted 1991

Structure Plan Second Alteration (Flintshire Edition)

1996 - 2011

Deposit draft ((April 1995) and Proposed Changes (Jan 1996) stages undertaken by CCC and following local government reorganisation were approved by Flintshire County Council as an informal document for use in development control in January 1997.

Delyn Borough Council

Delyn Local Plan

1986-1996

Adopted 1993

North Flintshire Local Plan

1996 - 2006

Informal draft review of Delyn Local Plan which was the subject of two rounds of public consultation before being approved by Flintshire County Council for use in development control in November 1998.

Alyn & Deeside District Council

Alyn & Deeside Local Plan

1993 - 2003

Adopted April 2003

1.10 Now that the UDP is formally adopted, it is the development plan for the purposes of Section 54A (i.e. the primary consideration in the determination of planning applications being the development plan). The UDP replaces the previous adopted development plans i.e. Clwyd Structure Plan First Alteration, Delyn Local Plan, and the Alyn & Deeside Local Plan, as well as the ‘informally approved’ plans.


Flintshire’s Spatial Context

1.11 Flintshire, located in the north eastern corner of Wales is one of the six unitary authorities covering North Wales, and the largest in population (148,600). Due to its border location with England, it is affected by the socio - economic activities of the North West region, which has the second largest population in England outside the South East. Urban development is concentrated in the coastal areas on the Dee Estuary, which has traditionally been a location for industrial development. With the expansion of Deeside Industrial Park, the County has become a significant focus for sub-regional employment generation. Away from the urbanised coastal strip, the County is predominantly rural in nature with a dispersed settlement pattern of market towns and village communities situated in attractive rolling countryside. Having regard to the unique location of Flintshire the Plan’s preparation has had regard to both Regional Planning Guidance for North Wales and for the North West of England.

 

The UDP Production Process

1.12 The preparation of a UDP is governed by planning law and regulations which determine the various stages and procedures to be followed. The preparation process can be split into the following distinct stages:

1.13 Consultation Draft - Before the Plan is placed on deposit the local planning authority must undertake a period of pre-deposit consultation. Regulations require the local planning authority to consult certain bodies. However the way in which the consultation is carried out, the matter of who else is consulted and the amount of publicity given to its proposals is for the authority to decide. The Council prepared a pre-deposit consultation draft UDP which took the form of a strategic issues document rather than a detailed plan with proposals maps. The objective was to seek broad consensus on the issues, strategy and way forward as a basis for drawing up detailed policies and proposals, rather than objections focusing on site specific proposals. The Plan was widely publicised for a 6 week period commencing in May 2000, and full details of the arrangements for publicity and consultation are set out in a separate background paper ‘Statement of pre-deposit publicity and consultation’.

1.14 Following the pre-deposit draft consultation exercise, the representations made on the Plan were reported to the Council’s Development Plans Panel on 11 April 2001. The report contained a summary of each representation, response and recommendations as to whether the Plan should change. A detailed version of the Plan was drawn up including policies and proposals and agreed by the Council on 27th May 2003 to be placed on public deposit.

1.15 Deposit Draft - The Plan was placed on ‘deposit’ for a 6 week period between 29th September and 10th November 2003 to enable members of the public, statutory consultees and all others who had an interest in the Plan, to make written representations of objection or support. In excess of 17,000 representations of objection and support from some 7,000 representees were submitted and considered by the Council at a series of Development Plans Panels. A report was prepared for the Council’s Executive on 3rd October 2006 to determine the Council’s response on each of the objections submitted and an accompanying list of Proposed Changes. These were approved by County Council on 17th October 2006.

1.16 Proposed Changes - Those objections which the Council agreed with, resulted in changes being made to the Plan which are known as Proposed Changes or Pre-Inquiry changes. Although not a statutory plan making stage, the Council published its Proposed Changes for public consultation for a 6 week period between 3rd November and 15th December 2006 to enable representations to be lodged. The Council only accepted representations that related to the Proposed Changes themselves and not to the contents of the original Deposit Plan. Proposed Changes allowed for the ‘conditional’ withdrawal of objections by the original objector but also resulted in counter objections. The Council’s responses to the representations submitted and list of Further Proposed Changes were reported to Executive on 15th May and approved by County Council 22nd May 2007. The Council made available the Further Proposed Changes for consultation during May, June and July.

1.17 Public Local Inquiry - The public local inquiry was conducted by two independent Inspectors appointed by the National Assembly for Wales. The Inquiry was opened on 18th September 2007 and oral sessions were held until 19th December 2007. The Inquiry was formally closed on 4th August 2008 following completion of all written representation Proofs. Objections presented orally at the Inquiry or through written representations, carried the same weight. The Inspector then prepared a report which was issued to the Council on 15th May 2009 containing a recommendation on each objection. The Council made the Inspector’s Report publicly available on 26th May 2009 following checking for errors, omissions and points of clarification. Although the Council is under no legal obligation to accept the Inspector’s recommendation, it must provide clear reasoning why the Inspector’s recommendation is not accepted. The Council’s Statement of its Decisions and Reasons on the Inspector’s Report and accompanying list of Proposed Modifications was reported to a Special Executive on 14th July 2009 and approved by County Council on 14th July 2009.

1.18 Proposed Modifications - Those Proposed Changes carried through to the final version of the Plan, or the Inspector’s recommendations which resulted in additional changes to the Plan, were grouped together as ‘Proposed Modifications’ which were placed on public deposit for a further 6 week consultation period between 21st September 2009 and 2nd November 2009. At this stage, representations could only relate to the Proposed Modifications themselves and not to the contents of the original Deposit Plan. The Council’s responses to the Proposed Modifications representations were reported to Executive and approved by Council on 9th March 2010. The Council resolved to approve the Plan in principle but had remaining concerns about a number of housing allocations and policies whereby it was agreed that Members could make submissions to the Head of Planning setting out their (and the community’s) concerns. A Development Plans Panel was set up and considered written submissions from 16 Members. The recommendations of the Panel were reported to and accepted by Full Council on 11th November 2010 with the effect that the housing allocations at Ash Lane, Mancot and West of Wrexham Road, Abermorddu were to be revoked and the housing allocation at South of Retail park, Broughton be limited to 25 dwellings per hectare.

1.19 Further Statement of Decisions and Further Proposed Modifications – The Council published further ‘focused’ changes relating to the three sites in the form of a Further Statement of Decisions on the Inspector’s Report and Further Proposed Modifications for a six week consultation period commencing 28th January 2011 and ending 11th March 2011. A report setting out the representations received and Officers response was reported to and accepted by a Development Plans Panel and was subsequently approved by Council at its meeting on 28th September 2011.

1.20 Adoption – The Council adopted the Plan at its meeting on 28th September 2011 and the Plan became operative on that date. A Notice of Adoption was published on 13th October 2011 advising that any aggrieved person had 6 weeks from that date with which to apply to the High Court to have the Plan or parts of the Plan quashed. No such legal challenges were made.

 

A collective vision for Flintshire - making it a better place

1.21 Flintshire County Council’s key priorities for its area are set out in the Annual Improvement Plan. A central theme of these priorities is that of sustainable development, which is development that satisfies present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Four key objectives set out how such a balance will be achieved:

1.22 The land use planning system has a key role to play in ensuring a sustainable future, and the production of the UDP is an important expression of how this will be achieved.

1.23 The UDP will also work hand in hand with other corporate plans and strategies to achieve sustainable outcomes. Many of these strategies share a common sustainability agenda, and equally all have a role and relationship to the Council’s emerging Community Strategy. Some of these key strategies include (see figure 1.):

1.24 Together with these complementary strategies, the UDP will strive to deliver a series of common principles:

Figure 1

1.25 Flintshire’s Community Strategy which was approved in June 2004 aims to develop an agreed vision between a partnership of public service providers and the community of Flintshire for the period 2004 to 2020. The approved strategy is a ‘live’ document involving rolling 4 year action plans to deliver the service priorities agreed as well as an annual review and reporting back to the community and partners. The strategy seeks to bring about a number of key themes: learning and creative communities; healthy and caring communities; active communities; safe communities and thriving and modern communities, through the application of a number of core principles which are sustainability, social inclusion, equal opportunity and Welsh language.

1.26 The UDP like all other corporate plans and strategies, will have a role to play in supporting and delivering the Community Strategy. The UDP however, will have a specific spatial role in relation to the Community Strategy, as the majority of physical change and development that takes place within Flintshire’s communities, is either as a direct result of proposals in the UDP, or is guided and controlled by its policies.

1.27 The strategic aims of the UDP encompass a broad range of social, economic, and environmental issues relating to Flintshire’s communities, and these are compatible with the Community Strategy themes. Sustainability and social inclusion are two of the four main themes that underpin the UDP, and which go to the heart of the Plan and its policies.

1.28 The UDP process has involveed the community at a number of key stages particularly through its consultation strategy, and the public inquiry into the Plan. The successful development and implementation of the Community Strategy will only be achieved by effective engagement with the community, and the UDP’s involvement with the community in its development, will be fed into the Community Strategy engagement process.

 

About this Plan

1.29 The Plan comprises two documents, the written statement and the proposals map:

1.30 Written Statement - The written statement comprises a strategic ‘Part I’ which contains the Plan’s aims, strategy and strategic land use policies. This broad framework provides the basis for the detailed policies and site specific proposals set out in ‘Part II’ of the Plan. Part II of the Plan is split into a series of topic based chapters. For each chapter there is a general summary of the Plan’s strategy, the policy issues, and relevant national and regional planning guidance. Each chapter is preceded by a table outlining the monitoring framework as it applies to the particular topic. This framework outlines which strategic aims most closely relate to the topic, a set of policy objectives which are translated into the list of policies for the particular topic, and a series of policy indicators to monitor the Plan’s implementation. Nine strategic targets have been defined, covering key areas of the Plan. Targets are not specified for all topics, but indicators cover all areas of the Plan to allow for monitoring and management of the Plan’s implementation, and will inform subsequent Plan reviews.

1.31 Each chapter contains a number of policies which are laid out as follows:

1.32 The cross referencing of key policies elsewhere in the Plan will be restricted to those which are absolutely necessary in order to gain a full understanding of the issues related to the proposed development. Many other more general policies or detailed development control type policies will also be relevant but are omitted in order to avoid unnecessary repetition. It must be stressed that the Plan is to be read as a whole and policies not considered in isolation.

1.33 Many of the policies in the Plan contain several criteria which development proposals will need to satisfy if they are to be acceptable in planning policy terms. In cases where all of the criteria must be met, the final criteria will be prefixed with the word ‘and’. In policies where a range of alternatives are offered, and only one criteria needs to be met then each criteria is prefixed by the word ‘or’.

1.34 Proposals Map - Many of the Plan’s policies relate to geographical areas such as green barriers and landscape designations. Other policies relate to specific properties such as those contained in principal shopping frontages. The Plan’s proposals will relate to the allocation of specific sites or land for development such as housing, employment or infrastructure developments such as road improvements. These designations or allocations are shown on a map base to reflect how they appear ‘on the ground’. The Proposals Map is contained in a separate book and comprises the following:

 

Strategic Environmental Assessment & Sustainability Appraisal

1.35 The appraisal of strategies, policies and proposals is now part and parcel of the Plan making process. ‘Sustainability appraisal’ acknowledges that sustainability is about more than simply the environment, but also about resources, the economy, and social and cultural considerations which all contribute to quality and way of life.

1.36 The main purpose of the appraisal is to ensure that the Plan works towards bringing about sustainable development by adopting a more holistic approach. However, the Plan cannot by itself bring about a sustainable way of life, it can only seek to lay the foundations through its land use planning powers. The framework provided by the Plan must be backed up by the actions of other public agencies, businesses and the public at large.

1.37 The Plan’s appraisal has closely followed the guidance contained in the Welsh Assembly Government’s Good Practice Guide. It has involved the following key stages:

1.38 During the consideration of deposit representations, it became clear to the Council that the Plan was unable to be adopted before the requirements of the EU Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive came into force in July 2006. In order to meet the requirement of the Directive for a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the Plan, the Council employed specialist consultants to undertake a ‘retrospective’ SEA, which was combined with a review and update of the earlier Sustainability Appraisal (SA). The aim of SEA is to ‘provide for a high level of protection of the environment and to contribute to the integration of environmental considerations into the preparation and adoption of plans and programmes with a view to promoting sustainable development’ (Article 1 SEA Directive).

1.39 The combined SEA / SA was published in an environmental report ‘Sustainability Report’ and resulted in numerous improvements to the Plan which were fed into the publication of the Pre-Inquiry Proposed Changes. The SEA / SA was updated and again resulted in further amendments to the Plan in the form of Further Proposed Changes. The consultants also undertook a Screening of the Plan in respect of Reg 48 of the Conservation (Natural Habitats…) Regs 1994 to determine whether the Plan would have significant adverse effects on any Ramsar and Natura 2000 sites. The publication of the adopted Plan is accompanied by a Post Adoption Statement, summarising the SEA/SA process. All documents relating to the SEA / SA and Screening are available separately.

 

Contacts

1.40 Any queries related to the Plan should be directed to the UDP helpline either by e-mail to developmentplans@flintshire.gov.uk or by telephone on 01352 703212.

Planning Strategy Section,
Environment Directorate,
Flintshire County Council,
County Hall,
Mold,
CH7 6NF

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