The Preparation of Area Plans
The Department of Infrastructure is required under Section 2 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1999 to prepare the Island Development Plan. This is made up of the Strategic Plan and one or more Area Plans. The Strategic Plan covers the whole of the Island and sets out a broad long term vision for development. The current Strategic Plan was published in July 2007 and has a plan period up to 2016. The Strategic Plan is unlikely to be substantially revised until 2011 when new census data will become available. The Department will also produce a number of Area Plans which will contain more site specific proposals. It is envisaged that four Area Plans will be produced covering the South, East, North and West of the Island. Until the Area Plan has been published the existing adopted Local Plans and the 1982 Order, read in conjunction with the Strategic Plan and any relevant Planning Policy Statements and Planning Circulars will be the policy framework against which planning applications will be determined.
The Development Plan System - what is it for?
- contribute to the achievement of sustainable development;
- bring issues before local people and provide opportunities for them to identify issues and participate in the process;
- guide and promote development, such as housing, retail, employment and community facilities to where and when it is needed;
- protect existing assets such as recreation areas, wildlife and buildings of special interest;
- improve the quality of the physical environment;
- give a degree of certainty to landowners, developers and the public as to the likely future pattern and location of development.
Overall, plans will aim to balance different and possibly conflicting demands on the land and the environment. As a result, the plan-making process can lead to difficult and contentious decisions being made.
The Isle of Man Strategic Plan - what does it contain?
The Strategic Plan contains the Strategic Aim which is consistent with the aim and objectives of the 2006-2009 Government Plan. This is to plan for the efficient and effective provision of services and infrastructure and to direct and control development and the use of land to meet the community's needs, having regard to the principles of sustainability whilst at the same time preserving, protecting and improving the quality of the environment, having particular regard to our uniquely Manx natural, wildlife, cultural and built heritage.
The Plan also contains a Spatial Strategy for the Island. The purpose of this is to illustrate the current development pattern across the whole of the Island and to set out a vision for future development. It is in this section of the Plan that the broad allocation for the distribution of new housing is given. There is also included in this section a Key Diagram, the aim of which is to illustrate diagrammatically where development is located and how these are linked as well as the main gateways into the Island.
The Plan then gives a series of general policies against which all development proposals will be assessed before a decision is made. It also sets out a series of more detailed Island wide policies which are organised on a thematic basis covering the environment, housing, business and tourism, sport recreation, open space and community facilities, transport, infrastructure and utilities and minerals, energy and waste.
How does the Strategic Plan influence the Area Plan?
The Strategic Plan sets out the broad policy framework and also sets out the distribution of housing. The proposals in the Area Plan will be in general conformity with the policies in the Strategic Plan, but those policies will not generally be repeated.
What will be included in the Area Plan?
The Area Plan will include the following information:-
- Written Statement - This will build on the vision set out in the Strategic Plan, in particular the Island Spactial Strategy. It will give a description of the area covered by the plan and set out a more detailed long term vision for that area. It will include a broad indication of the locations for land use such as housing, employment, retail and other uses. It will also include Site Specific Proposals which will allocate land for specific uses, such as housing and employment. It may identify the criteria for the control of development on specific sites, ie details of any specific criteria related to development of that site, such as design and access requirements. Sites will be identified on a robust and credible assessment of the suitability, availability and accessibility of land for particular uses or mix of uses. Any allocations made in this section will be clearly linked to the Proposals Map.
- Proposals Map - The Proposals Map will illustrate the policies contained within the Development Plan, for example, it will identify areas of protection such as Areas of Ecological Importance or Interest, conservation areas, green gaps, and wildlife sites. It will illustrate the location of sites for specific uses such as housing, employment, retail and community facilities.
Central to the Strategic Aim is the concept of sustainable development. Proposals in the Area Plan will therefore be made having regard to the principles of sustainability.
What the Development Plan cannot do
Firstly, although the Development Plans are the main consideration in deciding planning applications, they cannot require that development takes place and cannot guarantee what land will be used for in the future.
Secondly, the Development Plans can only deal with spatial issues, or how land is used, as defined in the legislation. For example, they can deal with the provision of open space, but not its management. Also, they cannot address all Government services, eg refuse collection, or prevent competition between businesses.
What provides the planning framework until the Area Plan is in place?
The Strategic Plan contains broad policies which cover the whole of the Island. All development will be assessed against these policies. For more site specific guidance, existing Local Plans, and in those areas where there is no adopted plan, the 1982 Order, will continue to provide relevant guidance for decision makers.
How to get involved effectively
Keep informed and get prepared
Make sure that the Department has your up-to-date contact details to ensure that when announcements are made, you are informed.
All new information will be put onto the Department website so make sure that you check this regularly.
Obtain and read the Strategic Plan, this will give the overall policy context for the Area Plans.
Get involved early
The consultation programme has been developed so that the opportunity to influence the plan is towards the beginning of the process. Early involvement is really important if you want to suggest alternative sites/proposals and/or policies, since they will need to be the subject of proper assessment and consultation, which would be impractical if left until the last minute.
Making formal written comments or representations
To assist in the development of comments and representations you could follow the checklist below:
- Clearly identify the policy/proposal you are objecting to or supporting, using the reference given in the plan;
- Say why you are objecting/supporting, and if you want to see a policy or proposal changed, say how and put forward your own alternative and the reasons for it;
- Keep your comments as simple as possible and organise them in a logical order;
- Concentrate on the planning issues involved;
- If objecting to certain aspects of a proposal it is important to stress where you agree with the Department so attention can be focused on issues of conflict. Try to show that you have understood, yet still disagree with the Department's position;
- If possible, identify support for your ideas and comments in the Strategic Plan, other Area Plans, other parts of the Draft Plan or in other planning documents;
- Refer to local issues and concerns, but try to relate them to the main planning issues. Your local knowledge is invaluable, but try not to get side tracked onto non-material, temporary or non-planning issues - noise and disturbance during construction and property values are typical areas to avoid.
Remember planning is here to serve the public interest. All Planning Documents are public documents and any comments you make on a planning document will be public information and will be available to be viewed by others.
If you've got any further questions or queries about the planning process on the Isle of Man then please contact the planning department via the dedicated email address firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 01624 685950.