Consultation opens on controversial St Ives neighbourhood development plan

Out-Law News | 18 Nov 2014 | 2:25 pm | 1 min. read

A public consultation has opened on the pre-submission draft of the neighbourhood development plan (NDP) for St Ives in Cornwall, which has proposed a policy preventing the construction of second homes in the parish.

The draft St Ives area NDP (97-page / 1.6 MB PDF), which is intended to guide development in the parish until 2030, has proposed that planning permission be allowed for 300 new homes in the plan period, of which "50% will be affordable housing and approximately 50% will be open market principal residence housing". According to the draft NDP, "new open market housing without a restriction to ensure its occupation as a full time principal residence (occupied for at least 270 days per year) will not be permitted". 

The document said the principal residence policy was designed to protect the parish from social decline. It said that “25% [of] housing stock in St Ives parish has no full-time resident” and that “once more than 20% of local housing stock is tied up in the holiday industry, ongoing research suggests that social infrastructure declines rapidly”. 

"Young people and families struggle to stay in the area, the people moving in tend to be retired and local wages fall far behind the price that outside bidders can pay for property," said the NDP. "Providing principal residence housing in order to re-balance the equation and bring the percentage of holiday homes into a manageable range is therefore a primary concern for the future". 

Planning minister Brandon Lewis last week raised doubts about the legality and enforceability of the principal residence policy. "National planning policy is clear that councils should plan for a mix of housing and any planning conditions must be reasonable and enforceable," said Lewis. "Trying to control private ownership via the planning system will require intrusive inspectors to monitor the usage of every home and state surveillance of every property." 

A neighbourhood plan containing a similar principal residence policy was adopted by a Devon council last year. The neighbourhood plan for Lynton and Lynmouth (30-page / 1.8 MB PDF), within the Exmoor National Park, said that "open market housing without a restriction to ensure its occupation as a full time principal residence will not be permitted".

In his examination report (18-page / 188 KB PDF), inspector Graham Self had questioned how the enforcement of the policy would be achieved and whether its enforcement could give rise to "at least the potential of conflict with human rights legislation (particularly the right to peaceful enjoyment of a home)". However, the inspector had decided that such enforcement issues had "been rare elsewhere in the [Exmoor] National Park", and that the plan's housing policies were "capable of being implemented in conformity with human rights obligations, and meet all the other basic conditions". 

The consultation is open until 2 January.