Skip To Content

Consultation: Issues for the new Local Plan Issues Paper

This consultation aimed to:

  • identify all of the topics which the new local plan should cover
  • highlight the information we will collect (the evidence base) to help us decide what the policy in that area should say
  • set out some of the issues and changes we may need to consider

During the course of the consultation we discussed the local plan with a wide variety of individuals, businesses, parish councils, interest groups and agencies, all with an interest in shaping Dartmoor's future. Thank you to all those who took the time to comment. Over the coming weeks we will be reviewing the responses.

View the whole document here: Consultation: Issues for the Local Plan

This consultation closed on Friday 13 January 2017

You can email us at: forwardplanning@dartmoor.gov.uk or write to us at:

Forward Planning
Dartmoor National Park Authority, Parke, Bovey Tracey, Devon TQ13 9JQ
Or call us on: 01626 832093
You can also follow us on Twitter @DartmoorPlan or facebook/DartmoorPlan

Data Protection: This information is controlled by Dartmoor National Park Authority as data controller in accordance with the data protection principles in the Data Protection Act 1998. The purposes for collecting this data are to assist us in the preparation of the Dartmoor National Park Local Plan. The above purposes may require public disclosure of any data received by Dartmoor National Park Authority in the consultation responses in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Completed responses will also be used in discussion with consultees, but the contact information will be detached.  If you have any concerns regarding the processing of your data, please contact the Forward Planning Team.

▼ Introduction

We know that people care passionately about Dartmoor, that you think its landscape, wildlife and rich history should be protected.We know that people who live on Dartmoor value how special it is, but also need to live in good quality, affordable homes, to make changes to their homes, and to live in communities with shops, services and facilities which make them a vibrant and sustainable place to live.We know that Dartmoor’s businesses are all different, that they are important to communities, want to grow, and need our support and encouragement to do so.We understand how farming shapes and manages our landscape, and the value of tourism to the National Park. The local plan will need to balance all of these things, and many more. It is the first stop when we make a decision on your planning application or your neighbours’, a local business you use, or a piece of land in your local area. That is why we need your help.

This consultation is a starting point for discussion around development on Dartmoor, and we would like to hear your views.

Remember, it’s important to tell us what you think works well, and what you like, as well as what you think we could change. Do not feel you need to respond to all of the suggested Talking Points set out below, focus on your area of interest or knowledge, or tell us what you feel needs changing, or should stay the same.

You might like to consider the following general questions:

  • Have we identified the right issues?
  • Have we missed anything?
  • Will the information we are collecting tell us what we need to know?
  • What are your views on current policy, and the decisions it leads to?
  • What might we need to change, what shouldn’t we change?

The new local plan will be the starting point of all decisions on planning applications in Dartmoor National Park.

The new local plan will replace three current plans; the Core Strategy, the Development Management and Delivery Plan, and the Minerals local plan with a single document. When making a decision on a planning application, we must consider:

  • The Local plan
  • Government policy and advice (the National Planning Policy Framework, and Planning Practice Guidance)
  • Other relevant issues or ‘material considerations’ such as the planning history of a site, highway safety, loss of light, or environmental health

The way we must prepare our local plan is carefully regulated (by the Town and Country Planning Regulations 2012).Although there is some flexibility in how we go about it, we must prepare formal draft documents before the plan is ‘submitted’ to be examined by an independent inspector. We set out the timetable for writing the local plan in our Local Development Scheme. How you can be involved in the process is explained in Planning, Having Your Say (our 2015 Statement of Community Involvement). Planning for a National Park is different from districts and boroughs. Firstly, we also need to cover minerals and waste policies in our local plan. This would normally be the responsibility of the county council. Secondly, we have our own purposes, and specific policy and guidance which describe the ‘great weight’ which must be given to National Park designation when making planning decisions.

The purposes of National Park designation under the Environment Act 1995 are to: “conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the National Park”, and “promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the National Park by the public”

We also have a responsibility to: “seek to foster the economic and social well-being of local communities within the National Park"

There is also a National Park Management Plan: ‘Your Dartmoor’. The Management Plan helps partnership working by co-ordinating other plans and strategies to deliver a long term vision for Dartmoor. It describes what the ‘special qualities’ of Dartmoor are, and how we conserve them, provide opportunities for people to enjoy Dartmoor, and look after the communities in this living, working landscape.The Local Plan, and our planning decisions, is an important way in which that long term vision for Dartmoor is delivered.

▼ TOPIC 1 – Strategy and Planning Applications

The new local plan will need to have a ‘Vision’; a description of what we want Dartmoor to be in 20 years’ time. The policies of the local plan set out how we get there.

A key part of this is the ‘spatial strategy’ which describes where different types of development are acceptable in different areas of the National Park.The current local plan aims for most new development, such as housing and new business premises, to go in the 8 largest towns and villages.

These towns and villages are: Ashburton, Buckfastleigh, Chagford, Horrabridge, Moretonhampstead, Princetown, South Brent and Yelverton.

There is then more of a focus on local needs housing and expansion of existing businesses in 34 smaller villages: Belstone, Bittaford, Bridford, Buckfast, Cheriton Bishop (Cheriton Cross), Christow, Cornwood, Dean/Dean Prior, Dousland, Drewsteignton, Dunsford, Hennock, Holne, Ilsington, Liverton, Lustleigh, Lydford, Manaton, Mary Tavy, Meavy, North Bovey, North Brentor, Peter Tavy, Postbridge, Scoriton, Shaugh Prior, Sourton, South Tawton, South Zeal, Sticklepath, Throwleigh,Walkhampton, Whiddon Down, and Widecombe-in-the-Moor.

Outside of these towns and villages opportunities for new development are more limited, and focussed on farming activities and other development which needs to be in the open countryside. Over the last 10 years 57% of new housing has been built in Local Centres, 26% in Rural Settlements and 17% in open countryside.

These settlements were selected on the basis of whether they have certain services and facilities available; such as a shop, school, health centre, or a bus service. Many communities welcome some housing development, which helps to keep these services running. Some smaller villages, which may have more limited services, may still be sustainable places to live. Whilst there is higher than average home working on Dartmoor, people are now less likely to have a job in the same place as they live, and most (89.4% of households on Dartmoor) are already dependent on a car.

The local plan will also set out policies which guide some of the more detailed issues around planning applications, such as: good design (including sustainable and modern design); Amenity (maintaining an area as a pleasant place to be); Hazards (such as unstable or contaminated land); Flooding (protecting new development, and ensuring it does not cause flooding elsewhere).

Good design should be at the heart of all new development in the National Park. Although development should fit in with its surrounding environment, Dartmoor should not just see ‘replica’ design, or development which is aimed just at blending in.The new local plan might do more to encourage high quality finish and materials. It could welcome innovation and modern design which we can be proud to see on Dartmoor.

What issues does this topic cover?

  • National Park purposes and special qualities
  • Settlement strategy
  • Presumption in favour of sustainable development
  • Major development
  • Amenity
  • Design
  • Hazardous development and sites
  • Flood risk

For a list of policies, see appendix, or visit: www.dartmoor.gov.uk/planning

What information or evidence do we need for this topic?

  • Community services and facilities information (during 2016)
  • Landscape Character Assessment 2010 (to be reviewed)
  • Planning application data and analysis
  • Sustainability Appraisal (from 2017 onwards)
  • Strategic Flood Risk Assessment 2010 (to be reviewed)
▼ TOPIC 2 - Environment

Dartmoor’s natural environment is one of the main reasons it is a National Park. Understanding Dartmoor’s landscape, habitats, and wildlife is crucial so that we can protect those ‘special qualities’ from harm, and improve them wherever we can.

Many of the natural environment policies in the local plan are around protection, managing change, and opportunities for enhancement.

We must also consider how we can lessen or ‘mitigate’ our contribution to climate change, and how development could be more resilient, for example to increased flooding.

Dartmoor’s landscape, tranquillity and dark night skies are under pressure from new development both inside and outside the National Park. The network of habitats on Dartmoor including rivers, hedgerows, moorland, and woodland is home to important wildlife of national and international importance. 28% of Dartmoor is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Dartmoor also provides 45% of South West Water’s fresh drinking water, and its blanket bogs not only store water, but also carbon, meaning Dartmoor plays an important role in reducing climate change.

There are 1,079 Scheduled Monuments on Dartmoor. The rich collection of archaeological features and landscapes can be found not just on the high moor, but in and around Dartmoor’s towns and villages, where it may be more at risk from the impact of new development. The historic centres of many of those villages and towns tell an important story about Dartmoor’s history, and are popular destinations for visitors. We need to ensure the historic buildings on Dartmoor, which includes 2,565 listed buildings, are conserved for future generations to enjoy. We need to understand where they may need to be adapted, improved or converted so they have a viable future, and balance this against the impact on the building and its surroundings.

What issues does this topic cover?

  • Climate change
  • Habitats and wildlife
  • Enhancing wildlife
  • Tranquillity, setting and hedge banks
  • Archaeology
  • Historic buildings
  • Conservation areas

For a list of policies, see appendix, or visit: www.dartmoor.gov.uk/planning

What information or evidence do we need for this topic?

  • Landscape Character Assessment (to be reviewed)
  • Conservation Area Appraisals
  • Planning application data and analysis
  • Dartmoor Historic Farmsteads Guidance
  • Natural Environment Topic Paper (to be completed in 2016/17)
  • Historic Environment Topic Paper (to be completed in 2016/17)
▼ TOPIC 3 - Housing

Housing is an important issue, not just for Dartmoor but nationally. The local plan must strike a balance between supporting thriving villages and towns, and conserving the National Park.

When thinking about the housing policies in the local plan, we need to understand the role Dartmoor plays in the wider ‘housing market area’, such as Exeter and Plymouth, how much housing is needed to meet the needs of Dartmoor communities, and where it should be built (see Topic 7).

In the last ten years 672 new houses were built on Dartmoor; 22% of these were affordable. Funding to deliver affordable housing does not exist in the same way it used to, though, and we will need to use more ‘cross subsidy’ (a mix of open market and affordable housing development) in the future.The type of affordable housing is also changing, with Government aiming to increase home ownership through ‘starter homes’, and increased opportunity for the ‘right to buy’, and as a result, we may see less new affordable housing to rent. Self-build has always been a route to new homes on Dartmoor; it could play more of a role in the future, given:

people generally stay longer in a home they have designed or built for themselves; self-build homes are often built to be more energy efficient; self-build can lead to more varied and better designed houses; it can be a more affordable way of getting the home you need.

The local plan should consider how to meet the needs for different types of housing.This is not just around traditional affordable housing, but also includes how we can:

  • keep younger working age people living on Dartmoor
  • support the needs of the gypsy and traveller community
  • help older people downsize, and live independently for longer
  • meet the needs of farmers, farm workers and other rural business.

The current local plan prioritises local need.The local plan describes what we mean by ‘local’, and this is used to decide who can live in an affordable home. Linked with Dartmoor’s historic buildings (Topic 2), and with farming, we also need to ensure that where historic barns are disused, we can find potential alternative uses.There is a balance to strike between giving important buildings a new use, keeping farms viable, protecting the character of the landscape and providing new homes in the most appropriate places.

What issues does this topic cover?

  • Towns and villages
  • Conversions
  • Extensions and alterations
  • Ancillary accommodation
  • Replacement houses
  • Agricultural and rural business workers
  • Gypsy and travellers

For a list of policies, see appendix, or visit: www.dartmoor.gov.uk/planning

What information or evidence do we need for this topic?

  • Strategic Housing Market Need Assessment
  • Housing and Employment Land Availability Assessment (to be completed in 2016/17)
  • Plan Viability Appraisal (to be completed in 2017)
  • Population and housing data and analysis (to be completed in 2016)
  • Landscape Sensitivity Study (to be completed in 2016/17)
  • Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment
  • Parish Housing Needs Assessments
▼ TOPIC 4 – Communities, Services and Infrastructure

Infrastructure Delivery Plan (to be reviewed)

District and County Council Green Infrastructure Plans

Open Space, Sport and Recreation Study (to be reviewed)

Plan Viability Appraisal (to be reviewed)

Dartmoor’s rural villages and towns need to have services and infrastructure which make sure they are sustainable, viable, thriving and healthy places to live.

We do not usually see major infrastructure projects coming forward on Dartmoor, though we will need to consider the availability of, and the need to improve, the following services and infrastructure in Dartmoor‘s communities:

  • Transport: roads, car parks, rail and bus;
  • Education: schools, school places and transport;
  • Health: Doctor’s surgeries, hospitals;
  • Communication: super fast broadband,mobile phone coverage;
  • Water: fresh water and waste water treatment, flood defence;
  • Sports and children’s play facilities;
  • ‘Green Infrastructure’ such as open space and footpaths;
  • Community facilities, such as village halls.

See also TOPIC 6 – Minerals, Waste and Renewable Energy.

We must be able to deliver what the local plan says, so it is important we understand how any new services and infrastructure would be paid for. Currently we ask developers for a financial contribution towards necessary infrastructure, such as schools and roads, on a site by site basis (‘Section 106 obligations’).This gives us the flexibility to look at community priorities, including affordable housing, case by case. With government advising that across the country, smaller sites may not be able to deliver affordable housing, the local plan review may consider again whether it is appropriate to set a standard charge which applies to every new home (a ‘Community Infrastructure Levy’) instead. This would pay a fixed amount of money towards a set list of infrastructure necessary in the area. This approach can provide more certainty around the contributions we expect, but can be less flexible, and may well impact on how much affordable housing could be built on some sites.

Dartmoor is a highly sensitive area, and can be under pressure from development outside the National Park. This might include development which has a visual or landscape impact, or housing which leads to more traffic on Dartmoor roads, or additional visitors to popular Dartmoor ‘honey pot’ sites. This can have an impact upon wildlife, or tranquillity, issues which are important to Dartmoor. The local plan covers only Dartmoor, not the area outside, but it is important to understand this ‘cross boundary’ issue.

What issues does this topic cover?

  • Infrastructure
  • Community services and facilities
  • Telecoms
  • Parking standards
  • Highways
  • Public rights of way

For a list of policies, see appendix, or visit: www.dartmoor.gov.uk/planning

What information or evidence do we need for this topic?

  • Infrastructure Delivery Plan (to be reviewed)
  • Open Space, Sport and Recreation Study (to be reviewed)
  • Plan Viability Appraisal (to be reviewed)
  • District and County Council Green Infrastructure Plans
▼ TOPIC 5 – Economy, Business and Leisure

The local plan should support Dartmoor’s thriving towns and villages which are ‘open for business’.

Dartmoor has a relatively strong economy for a rural area. It isn’t reliant on one specific business or sector, but has a fairly broad range of employment and activity. That said, on Dartmoor there is a high proportion of people working in agriculture (4.7%) and tourism (8.1%) related business.

It is important to understand both the workforce and the businesses on Dartmoor. With Exeter, Plymouth and a number of towns nearby, many people live in the National Park, but work elsewhere. Equally many people who work on Dartmoor can struggle to afford housing in the National Park, and so commute in from nearby towns and cities. It is important that we recognise that with easier access to transport and broadband, many people no longer work in the community in which they live. However it is also important that Dartmoor has a workforce for a range of jobs, and that Dartmoor’s population have opportunities to work close to where they live, or live close to where they work. It is also worth noting that a large number of people on Dartmoor (19%) are self-employed.

Agriculture is a critical sector for Dartmoor, and worth 9.2% (Valuing England’s National Park 2013) of turnover a year to the Dartmoor economy, compared to less than 1% for the UK as a whole. Farming has created much of the Dartmoor landscape, and good land management conserves and enhances habitats, wildlife and archaeology. Dartmoor’s farmsteads are also a key part of its landscape character. We therefore need to provide opportunities for farming to be sustainable, both in economic and environmental terms.

Tourism is a major part of Dartmoor’s economy, and relies heavily on Dartmoor’s special qualities, beautiful landscape and picturesque towns and villages. Around 2.31m people visit Dartmoor each year, spending around £139.5m (DNPA tourism statistics). Planning policy needs to carefully balance the protection of Dartmoor, with the need to respond to changing visitor trends and demands. Businesses on Dartmoor should be able to thrive, however they must do so in a way which protects Dartmoor’s special qualities; many of which are the reason businesses are located or choose to base themselves on Dartmoor in the first place.

What issues does this topic cover?

  • New business
  • Expansion of existing premises and sites
  • Signs and advertisements
  • Tourist accommodation
  • Visitor attractions
  • Visitor facilities and recreational development
  • Horse related development
  • Farm diversification

For a list of policies, see appendix, or visit: www.dartmoor.gov.uk/planning

What information or evidence do we need for this topic?

  • Economic Needs Assessment (to be completed in 2016/17)
  • Economic and employment profile (to be completed in 2016/17)
  • Tourism/Visitor data
▼ TOPIC 6 – Minerals, Waste and Energy

Dartmoor has long been used as a source of natural resources. The local plan must consider how this continues into the future, in a sustainable way. We have seen an increasing amount of our energy coming from renewable sources; around 3,905 GWh (RegenSW 2016) of electricity in the South West now comes from renewable sources.

Some of these, such as large wind and solar farms, would have a significant impact on Dartmoor’s landscape. Renewable energy is increasing on Dartmoor, but at a household, business and community level. In particular Dartmoor’s rivers have been identified as being a significant potential resource, provided this does not have an unacceptable impact upon wildlife. It is important that Dartmoor National Park plays its part in reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.

Dartmoor has historically been a source of mineral resources; quarrying of china clay, peat, building and aggregate stone (crushed rock), and metals such as tin, have shaped Dartmoor as we see it today. There are currently 3 active stone quarries on Dartmoor, and a china clay quarry. Whilst much of this mineral resource still exists, mining and quarrying can have a significant impact upon Dartmoor’s landscape, habitats, wildlife and historic environment, and government policy says that large scale quarrying should happen outside National Parks. Dartmoor has a number of existing quarries though, including for building stone, and there is a balance to be struck between extracting good quality stone for construction and building repairs, the economic benefits of quarrying, and the impact small quarries might have at a more local level.

The local plan will need to identify ‘safeguarding areas’ which identify where certain mineral deposits exist. These do not in any way mean that quarries would be granted permission, but allow us to consider carefully any new uses in that area which might mean we cannot get to the deposit, should we need to in the future. Similar to quarrying, government expects large scale waste processing and disposal to happen outside national parks. Dartmoor no longer has any commercial recycling plant or rubbish tips, however most communities have local collection facilities, and some have community run co-operatives which reuse and recycle waste.

What issues does this topic cover?

  • Renewable energy
  • New minerals workings, including extensions
  • Operating conditions and ROMPS
  • Mineral safeguarding
  • Waste disposal and recycling facilities

For a list of policies, see appendix, or visit: www.dartmoor.gov.uk/planning

What information or evidence do we need for this topic?

  • Minerals and Waste topic paper (to be completed in 2017)
  • Local Aggregate Assessment
▼ TOPIC 7 – Towns, Villages and Development Sites

The current local plan identifies or ‘allocates’ sites for housing, business use or redevelopment in most of Dartmoor’s largest villages and towns (the ‘local centres’).The new local plan should consider which are the best sites for future development.

The allocated sites in the current local plan provided enough land for around 435 houses. We allocated sites for a number of reasons:

  • These are larger sites in the larger towns and villages, where most of the development is expected to happen
  • It gives the community the earliest possible opportunity to influence where building happens
  • It shows landowners and developers where we and the community think housing should be built, giving local people some certainty
  • It gives us confidence that housing can be built where it is needed, and therefore
  • It makes it easier for us to say no to development in the wrong places

Where land is allocated it means its development would be acceptable. Applications for planning permission would still be needed, but the application would be to set out how it should be developed, not whether it should be developed.

Call for Sites

Whether we allocate sites or not, we need to assess whether there is enough land available to meet the identified housing and employment needs. We are carrying out a ‘Land Availability Assessment’ to identify land which is available for development.We then assess whether it could be developed, but it is for the local plan or a planning application, to decide whether it should.

The current local plan looks differently at sites which are either within, adjoining, or outside a town or village. To help understand this more clearly, Local Centres currently have settlement boundaries drawn around them. In the smaller villages we rely on ‘rural exception sites’, which delivered around 79 houses over the last 10 years. An exception site is a small site for housing on the edge of a village, which is only permitted because we know affordable housing is needed. Exception sites are aimed at just delivering affordable housing, but in order to pay for the affordable housing, we may need to allow for some market housing.

Recent Government guidance describes how small sites may not be able to deliver affordable housing. Using this ‘threshold’ on Dartmoor could make a big difference to housing delivery. Around 109 affordable houses were built on sites of 10 or less over the last ten years. The Government threshold says:

  • On sites of 5 houses or less affordable housing may not be appropriate
  • On sites of 6-10 houses, it may be appropriate only to take money towards affordable housing, to be built on another site (a ‘commuted sum contribution’)
  • On sites of 11 houses or more, affordable housing should be viable on site

This does not apply to exception sites. It does mean that if we allocate sites in the new local plan, we might still choose to allocate only larger sites which are more viable, and allow smaller housing schemes in the smaller villages to come forward as ‘exception sites’. Since the current local plan was written, we have also seen an increase in Neighbourhood Plans.

Neighbourhood Plans

A Neighbourhood Plan is written by the community; normally by a group specially set up by the Parish or Town Council. It contains planning policies especially for that area. Importantly a Neighbourhood Plan: Must be consistent with the strategic policies in the local plan; cannot provide for less development, only the same or more; could allocate sites. Some communities have also written other types of plan, such as Parish Plans or Village Design Statements. These do not have the same formal planning status as a Neighbourhood Plan (and can cover non-planning issues), but they are useful in setting out what a community might expect us to include in the local plan.

What information or evidence do we need for this topic?

  • Land Availability Assessment (LAA) (to be reviewed)
  • Landscape Character Assessment (to be reviewed)
  • Strategic Housing Market Need Assessment
  • Community services and facilities survey (during 2016)
  • Housing Needs Assessment (parish level)

For a list of policies, see appendix, or visit: www.dartmoor.gov.uk/planning

Page last updated: 20 Dec 2016
© Dartmoor National Park Authority | National Parks Portal | Terms and Conditions |