Over the last two days there has been the statutory hearing into the Hyndburn Borough Development Management DPD, a key part of the Hyndburn Local Plan. Hearings are one of the rituals of town planning and part of the slow process of drawing up the statutory development plan.
Hyndburn Council already has its Core Strategy in place which, as the name implies, is about broad strategy and direction. Beneath this sits the Development Plan Document or DPD, which contains the detailed policies, guidance notes and plans, so it’s a pretty important (and big) document. Hyndburn also has the Accrington Area Action Plan which is a detailed bespoke plan for the town.
My bit involved the DPD’s heritage and design policies and the need to justify the various changes we were putting forward. These were mainly about that part of Hyndburn’s rich heritage that is not officially recognised in designations like listed buildings and scheduled monuments. The borough has a lots of buildings and sites not officially recognised so the DPD includes policies to protect them from harmful developments.
The hearing is a reminder that historic buildings and archaeology are firmly part of the town planning system in the UK, which is part of the wider democratic process. Hearings used to be very formal, sometimes with barristers, but have have become more engaging in recent times. Nevertheless, the tradition remains for the inspector to sit in the middle with a table of planning officers on one side facing a table of consultants and/or members of the public on the other. The inspector engages both sets of people in the discussion of the policies and issues and tries to draw out agreement among the parties or to advise how policies should be changed.
I’m pleased to say that everything in our DPD got through with helpful minor changes hear and there. 😊