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Ashtead Community Vision Planning and the art of the possible The key test that will be applied to the Ashtead NDP is whether (in Government speak) it provides, “a practical framework within which decisions on planning applications can be made with a high degree of predictability and efficiency”.

Writing planning policies – the heart of the Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) – is ultimately where the Ashtead Neighbourhood Development Forum needs to get to in order to put forward an NDP to Mole Valley District Council MVDC) and Ashtead residents for adoption. It is therefore worth getting to understand what the NDP can and can’t achieve so that we can start to manage expectations. This is particularly important for Ashtead because the reality is that there is very little land available for development, unless of course, MVDC propose a change to Ashtead’s Green Belt Boundary in their forthcoming review, which would then allow more development. So while my colleagues at Ashtead Community Vision (ACV) continue with their Doomsday book for Ashtead – the pulling together of base evidence in their Baseline Sustainability Appraisal - their thoughts also now turn to what we’re going to recommend to the wider world. But dear reader don’t get overly excited as I’m not in a position to reveal which way things will go – at least not at this point – as we’re not ready. However, what I can hope to impart is what could be the art of the possible – or not.

As pointed out there’s little point in an NDP addressing policies already satisfactorily covered by MVDC, rather it needs to fill in any gaps or deficiencies – something local residents are well positioned to do given their local interests and knowledge. Specifically, NDPs are aimed at those developments that need planning permission and there are other limits to its influence. For example, an NDP cannot influence minerals or waste issues and it MUST have regard to National Planning Policy such as that for the Green Belt. There are other specific limits on NDPs. For example you cannot require MVDC to make designations on things like tree preservation orders or listing assets for community value. Conservation orders cannot be extended nor compulsory purchase orders made. That said, the NDP can help support the justification for exercising any of these powers but will not be able to compel MVDC to use them. The key then to the 'art of the possible' is to understand that it can “only influence development which requires a planning application”. To further understand that I would suggest looking to the literature widely available on the internet. My top tip for those interested would be to download, “Writing planning policies” by expert Tony Burton. It can be found at:- http://mycommunityrights.org.uk.

For further information concerning the Ashtead NDP, either go to the website at: www.ashteadcommunityvision.org.uk or email The first point to make is that NDPs do carry ashteadcommunityvision@gmail.com. You can significant legal weight when decisions on also find us on Facebook and Twitter planning applications are made as the plan will be part of the broader MVDC planning policy and @AshteadCV . so it is central to planning decisions in our area. John Morgan


Profile for Ashtead Leatherhead

Ashtead & leatherhead November 2014  

Issue 109, November 2014. Never underestimate the importance of community.

Ashtead & leatherhead November 2014  

Issue 109, November 2014. Never underestimate the importance of community.