Portland Neighbourhood Plan
A public referendum on the Portland Neighbourhood Plan is due to take place on Thursday 6 May 2021. Further details regarding the referendum are below.
The Portland Neighbourhood Plan was submitted to Dorset Council for examination in Nov 2019. At the examination, an independent examiner reviewed the plan and made recommendations in accordance with the 2011 Localism Act and related regulations. In particular, the examiner considered whether the plan meets certain basic conditions, satisfies legal requirements, and identifies an appropriate area for a referendum.
The basic conditions, which are set out in the legislation, are intended to ensure that neighbourhood plans are compatible with their wider context. The plan must:
- have regard to national planning policies and advice contained in guidance issued by the Secretary of State;
- contribute to achieving sustainable development;
- be in general conformity with the strategic policies of the development plan for the area (West Dorset, Weymouth & Portland Local Plan); and,
- be compatible with EU obligations and human rights requirements
If the neighbourhood plan is supported by a local referendum, it will become part of the development plan for Dorset and its policies will be used to make decisions on relevant planning applications in Portland alongside other appropriate policies within the remainder of the development plan.
Dorset Council has agreed with the findings of the Examiner’s Report and has agreed that a referendum should take place on Thursday 6 May 2021. Documents relating to the referendum are listed below:
Decision to proceed to referendum
Following the successful examination of the Portland Neighbourhood Plan, Dorset Council agreed to enable
the plan, as amended to proceed to referendum. The Council released a Decision Statement to this effect.
Regulations linked to the Coronavirus Act 2020 mean that no elections or referendums can take place until 6 May 2021. This includes neighbourhood planning referendums. The measures will mean that neighbourhood plans may come into force later than they would have done. With this in mind the Government has updated current planning guidance to set out that neighbourhood plans awaiting referendums can be given significant weight in decision-making.
Portland Neighbourhood Plan Referendum Draft (as proposed and amended as a result of the examination) and the accompanying Maps book 1 and book 2 can now be given significant weight in decision-making.
Neighbourhood Plan Examination
An independent examiner Mary O'Rourke was appointed to examine the Portland Neighbourhood Plan. The independent examiner's report was released on 21 January 2020 with the recommendation that the Portland Neighbourhood Plan should, subject to modification, proceed to referendum.
The examiner wrote to us and Portland Town Council on the 7 November 2019 to clarify several initial procedural matters. On 22 November 2019 Dorset Council and Portland Town Council received a letter from the examiner to ask a number of questions. On 25 November 2019 we supplied the examiner with a hard copy of the Shoreline Management Plan summary leaflet requested by question six. We wrote back to the examiner on 5 December 2019 in response to the remaining questions.
Portland Town Council also wrote back on 5 December 2019 and provided the following documents in support of their response.
On 21 January 2020 the examiner wrote to Dorset Council and Portland Town Council to issue her examination report. The report recommends that the Portland Neighbourhood Plan should, subject to modification, proceed to referendum.
As part of her examination of the plan, the examiner had to consider whether the plan meets certain basic conditions and satisfies legal requirements.
The basic conditions are set out in the legislation, and are intended to ensure that neighbourhood plans fit within their wider context. The plan must:-
- have regard to national planning policies and guidance
- contribute to achieving sustainable development
- be in general conformity with the strategic policies of the development plan ie the West Dorset, Weymouth & Portland Adopted Local Plan
- be compatible with European Union law and human rights obligations
- not breach the requirements of Chapter 8 of Part 6 of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017
The examiner provided a review of the plan and made recommendations in accordance with the 2011 Localism Act and related regulations.
If the neighbourhood plan is supported by a local referendum, it will be used to make decisions on planning applications.
Consultation on the Submitted Plan
As the local planning authority, the council is required to consult on the plan proposals before the examination takes place. The consultation process ran from 15 August 2019 until 9 October 2019. This was an opportunity for individuals and organisations to raise concerns they had about the plan with regard to the content and how it was prepared. An independent examiner was appointed and any concerns were passed on to them for consideration as part of the examination process. A summary of the comments was forwarded to the town council and will be published on the website.
The Portland Neighbourhood Plan is available to read together with the supporting documents which are as follows:
Dorset Council, the competent authority responsible for undertaking a Habitats Regulation Assessment (HRA) of the neighbourhood plan, produced a HRA in June 2019. The HRA uses information from a report by AECOM, produced in December 2018 on behalf of Portland Town Council, and was submitted with the plan. An addendum to update the HRA was produced in July 2019 following a consultation response from Natural England. The HRA and its addendum conclude that the neighbourhood plan will not adversely affect the integrity of a European site (designated areas of exceptional ecological importance) providing a number of recommended changes are made to the plan. Policies in the neighbourhood plan were amended to reflect the recommendations of the HRA before the plan was submitted. The further change required by the addendum has been agreed with the neighbourhood plan group as set out in this email. The examiner will consider the HRA and addendum, including the recommended changes, as part of their examination of the plan.
The plan and the supporting documents can also be viewed on the Portland Neighbourhood Plan website. A hard copy of the Portland Neighbourhood Plan is available to view at Dorset Council Offices, South Walks House, Dorchester.