- Objective and Interaction of Stakeholders
3.1 Community Interest/Group
There is often a lack of communication between those involved in decision making and those directly affected by new development (Parker, 2014). As a local planning authority, it is essential to take into consideration the views and opinions of the local community (Parker and Doak, 2012). It is important to understand that the term community does not necessarily mean a set of homogenous, like-minded people (Parker et al, 2019). There is often differing views and opinions about the impact of a potential development (Parker and Doak, 2012). Community engagement in a local plan is a statutory requirement. As part of regulation 18 of local plan regulations, 2012, local communities, businesses and other interest parties must be involved in the initial consulting stages (Parker, 2014).
As we know there is an emerging neighbourhood plan, however, it is only at drafting stage, thus there is no neighbourhood plan in place for this application. As an LPA we may wish to produce a Local Plan to address the needs and opportunities within the area (Plain English Guide to the Planning System, 2015). The local plan must be consistent with the statement of community involvement, which as the LPA we produce, to outline the community engagement and consultation throughout the planning process.
The interaction with the community needs to be an ongoing process and not just a ‘tick box’ exercise. By listening to the concerns of the local people it legitimises us as negotiating on behalf of the public (Hoch, 1994). When listening to the opinions of the local community, it is important we acknowledge whose needs are being catered for and prioritised. It is important to engage beyond the steering group and reach a wide range of people, not just residents, but businesses and those who work within the area too (Parker et al, 2019). It is crucial to maintain a good relationship with the community and provide them with institutional support (Parker et al, 2019).
As a main stakeholder we can assume several concerns may be present within the local community. From the development of the neighbourhood plan, we are aware the main concerns include enhancement of local services and affordable housing. Following the new development, residents may be concerned about house prices going up in the area. Planning obligations can be used to mitigate the impact of developments (Plain English Guide to the Planning System, 2015). As the LPA we may ask the developer to enter an obligation to provide affordable housing to benefit the community (Plain English Guide to the Planning System, 2015). However, it is to be noted as the LPA we have no power over house pricing.
3.1.1 Perception of LPA
Developer Interests (Healey et al 1995)
• Residential project will need attention to layout and future maintenance of the roads and pathways, access to main highway, purchasers maybe concerned with impact of scheme on traffic capacity (deterrent), and other infrastructure networks, and the design/maintenance of landscaping. Developer needs to assure future occupiers about current quality and future maintenance. This coincides with assurances from utilities/infrastructure agencies wanting reassurances about quality of provision, impact on the general capacity of the infrastructure system in question and about long term maintenance implications.
o Bolan (1983) – “a planner may be influenced by self-interest, professional interest, developer interest, local community interest, national interest, environmental interest and economic interest.”
The developer ought to be aware of the interested parties involved that would be seeking to influence the planner. On top of this, the developer would be prudent to pre-empt any conflicts of interest and deal with these accordingly.
o Hoch 1994 + Healey et al 1995:
Healey: “significant mechanism [exist] through which developer and planning authority express the balance of duties and obligations between them”.
Implying that there is a great deal of interaction between developer and planner
On top of this, Hock 1994 explains that much of this interaction will be based upon working out “with developers an exchange of public benefits and fees for the selective modification of regulations.” Hoch 1994
3.2.1 Perception of LPA
3.3 Conservation Group (Heritage)
When determining any proposals regarding Heritage Assets, the LPA must have regard to the “desirability of preserving the building or its setting or any features” of interest as per section 66 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. This requires the LPA to consider any harm caused to the identified assets.
Heritage Assets being protected within the planning process are monitored by Historic England, a statutory consultee, which also serves to advise governmental and local authorities regarding changes to the historic environment (Cullingworth, 2015). But there is also a “tradition” of voluntary/charitable institutions and local programmes being paramount to the “heritage sector” (Cullingworth, 2015).
The NPPF (2019) and the Planning Practice Guidance (2019) requires the input of those with “appropriate expertise” and relevant historic records to be consulted at a minimum, whilst providing the necessary tests for identifying harm (whether substantial or not) in relation to the public benefits of the proposal. With the significance of Heritage Assets being further expanded in the PPG (2019) to include features of archaeological, architectural and artistic, and/or of historic interest.
The expertise and feedback required for determining an application opens the platform for negotiations with not only statutory consultees but to other stakeholders who may value the assets in alternative ways, this ultimately constructs the “desirability” and “significance” of the asset.
Historic England uses an array of principles when managing the historic environment and this ‘management’ is reflective of contemporary attitudes towards conservation, where amalgamating heritage assets into the development/planning process serves to secure the future of the asset (Cullingworth, 2015; Historic England, 2008). Therefore, it is logical to assume that Historic England, a statutory interest group, would seek to secure the future of the heritage asset with as little detriment to the proposal as possible, in line with the principles outlined in their documents, which also serve to largely align with the NPPF (2019).
However, local non-statutory groups such as advisory committees, local amenity bodies and societies and the actors within them (such as architects, local historians, and museums) offer further insights into the significance of the asset (Mynor, 2017). The information of the non-statutory bodies (voluntary sector) can serve to inform the desired and significant characteristics of the asset which the advisory function of Historic England could not succinctly achieve alone. However, the LPA should fully be aware of the makeup of these groups potentially being representative of the middle class of community they emanate from and potentially being that of only the communities “active voices” (reflective of the current planning framework) (Cullingworth 2015, Parker and Street 2013, Gallent et al, 2013).
Therefore, dependent upon the non-statutory group the LPA interacts with the interests of a civic or conservation group can vary. In the case of heritage conservation the LPA can assume the representations received can inform the significance of the asset however, dependent on the organisations removal from the planning process and professional expertise – conservation groups can also express nimby or completely anti-developmental attitudes to the development (Mynor, 2017). It can therefore be assumed that the objectives of conservation groups would align with maintaining the identified heritage features of the site, but dependent upon the make up of these organisations, objectives may be more akin to achieving place making and maintaining existing community identity. The LPA will need to frame the proposal in this context and be observant in regards as to whether representations may concern the heritage asset in isolation or other concerns of the proposal (i.e. nimby views of any development whatsoever).
3.3.1 Perception of LPA
With “significance” and “desirability” being formed by the input of actors spanning across statutory, voluntary and professional organisations, the LPA should, whilst serving the community, address the points of significance raised. However, this is only one facet of the overall proposal and other benefits may outweigh harm to the Heritage Asset. This balancing of considerations is for the LPA or the Secretary of state to decide and not interest groups (Mynors, 2017). Therefore, the LPA has the ability to decide the outcome of development in relation to heritage concerns.. However, a principled approach and the discretionary nature of the planning system can allow the LPA to still act in the ‘public interest’ whilst having a large amount of flexibility in determining harm and public benefit.
This does not mean that all heritage concerns can be completely minimised as Historic England have the power to object to demolition/alteration of a listed building (PPG, 2019), and remove delegated authority from the LPA, giving the secretary of state the power to grant permission which can either cause delays to bringing any development forward or refused if, the LPAs reasoning is not sound when weighing considerations.
In summary, the LPA has a significant amount of power in terms of negotiating with these groups, as policy considerations allow the circumvention of their identified issues (if necessary). However, the LPA could be seen to not be acting in the community interest (with local groups being of the community) forging future adversarial relations if these views are not taken into account or the LPA is transparent in their overruling. Furthermore, the LPA could be perceived as weak or incompetent if the application were to be removed from its delegated authority and decided by other powers (such as the secretary of state via objections from Historic England).
3.4 Conservation Group (Ecology)
To understand the objectives of ecological conservationists (ECs); the LPA must understand the local needs of the community, have a strong grasp of the legislation, and an awareness of the policies implemented. This will allow the LPA to be more prepared. These objectives will be divided into two main headings: 1. understanding the significance of ECs and 2. noting their perception of the LPA through the policy and legislation that dictates their objectives. This will help determine how the LPA can successfully negotiate with the ECs.
As explained in the introduction, the LPA seeks to provide a common good (Fox-Rogers and Murphy, 2016) and this report understands successfully providing this means specifying a win-win scenario for all parties. To successfully synthesise an agreement over development plan A, the objectives of the ECs must be a priority. This is because the foundation of ecology represents sustainability and “the functioning of resources” (Leitao and Ahern, 2002, p66). Whereas, in contrast, planning considers its human use of those resources. This is important because the NPPF emphasises the importance of sustainable development within any development approval (reference). Therefore, Booth (1984) is correct to assume effective planning is improbable without ecological consideration. This report acknowledges that the Leitao and Ahern paper (2002) is nearly 20 years old which is why Ozdemir and Gungor’s (2019) work is consideration. Their work highlights the raised awareness of ecological planning within the European Commission. This delivers the European Green Capital Competition annually, thereby promoting environmental and ecological concerns. The above demonstrates the pivotal importance of the ECs’ objectives for the LPA entering negotiations.
Furthermore, the significance of the ECs’ objectives in relation to the LPA will be defined by its statutory authority. The ECs is powered by Natural England which was founded under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006. It is the government’s main advisor on England’s environment. It is important to note s2(1) of the 2006 act because it stresses the general purpose of Natural England is to preserve the land for future generations. This act further highlights the importance of securing biodiversity and s40(3) notes securing biodiversity includes “in relation to a living organism or type of habitat, restoring or enhancing a population or habitat.” Taking this into consideration, the LPA understands the need to make habitat conservation a priority when carrying out negotiations with the applicant. This will help the LPA understand the statutory authority of the ECs and highlights the governmental and legal importance placed upon them. Therefore, the LPA must take the ECs’ objectives seriously. (This might not be as essential, but we did establish that statutory authority was important when defining what objectives are important and which ones aren’t)
3.4.1 Perception of LPA
As highlighted in the introduction, there is an element of unknown when entering negotiations. This increases the difficulty to fully understand what the ECs’ perception of the LPA will be. The LPA are synthesisers and negotiation is multi-faceted. This means that the ECs will have objectives they need to prioritise.
Much of the objectives of the ecological conservationists will be conveyed through the NPPF and statutes. The NPPF states under paragraph 174 in relation to biodiversity and geodiversity, we should:
“a) identify, map and safeguard components of local wildlife-rich habitats and wider ecological networks, including the hierarchy of international, national and locally designated sites of importance for biodiversity.”
“b) promote the conservation, restoration and enhancement of priority habitats, ecological networks and the protection and recovery of priority species; and identify and pursue opportunities for securing measurable net gains for biodiversity.” The NPPF is an important document because it presents planning policy approved from central government, thereby highlighting the importance of ECs objectives. The objectives of the NPPF regarding ecological protection is further highlighted in paragraphs 175 and 176; where it is noted if the development provides unmitigated significant harm to biodiversity, “planning permission should be refused.”
It is likely the protection of the Thames Basin Healths Special Protection Area (SPA) will be of principle concern for the ECs. This is because the ensuing development could cause ecological harm to the SPA which is outstretched across the south east region. The SPA has highlighted concern about residential development with particular emphasis “on three rare species of birds which inhabit the heaths – nightjar, Dartford warbler and woodlark” (p1) and has stressed the matter of the bird’s protection. The European Union Birds Directive (2009/147/EC) Article 3(2) which references the “creation of protected areas”, and the European Union Directive on the Conservation of Habitats (92/42/EEC) have been the acts which have designated the SPA.
Statutes will help uncover the ECs’ objectives for Site A because the statutes often intertwine with policy. This will help the LPA have a more organised approach. The main piece of legislation is the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 s41. It states it is a criminal offense to damage a breeding site of a wild animal that comes under the European Protected Species. The Nightjar is of European Conservation Concern and is “protected under Annex 1 of the EU “birds” directive”. This bird is also protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and is amber under “the Birds of Conservation 4: the red list of birds”. The Dartford warbler and the Woodlark are also protected under the same two acts and are amber and green respectively under “the Birds of Conservation 4: the red list of birds”. These two acts help the LPA distinguish what the objectives of the ECs are, because it classifies their role under law. As such, this legislation has been taken further and is tied together under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. The legislation suggests the main objectives of the ECs is to protect wildlife and ensure disruptions are kept to a minimum. The LPA understands the statutes must be abided by. Also, applicants must put in place provisions to protect these birds.
To conclude this section, the literature identifies that even though the LPA will allow for the dwellings to be built, the importance of the objectives of the ECs cannot be understated. The ecological challenge from the proposed development is the most severe of all the challenges and must be treated with the upmost delicacy.
Hey guys! I’m just currently editing my section on ecology in this document. I’ve copied and pasted the new criteria we will be using into this document just for people’s reference. In addition to my work, I trust people will have written about the significance of statutory authority earlier on in the report. Also, we need to spend a small section of the lit review talking about the importance of understanding misinformation. Forester notes that misinformation is often commonplace in meetings. So it is important we reference this as a “so what” in relation to our work because that will make it easier for us to point out whether we are being misinformed in the meeting. It will also help in our own research on this very topic!
There is a small section on statutory authority I included which I highlighted in yellow. It may not be essential to our cause or we could include it and simply break it down. It’s up to you guys, it’s there to help!
I have also added my bit for negotiations in relation to the ecological conservationists. However, I am not going be focusing on this section for the time being.
It might be an idea to make a key just to let everybody know who contributed what. Cheers, Andrew