The Examiner asked:
What is the justification for the Key Settlement Gap provided for in Policy HG5 and shown on Figure 2? I note that the gap is not included in the emerging Cheshire West and Chester Local Plan (Part Two).
The Steering team answered:
We are struggling to answer your question on the key settlement gap because the Steering Group understood that it was indeed the gap in the Local Plan (Part 2). In an earlier version of the Plan there was a different gap but we were advised, we are certain by CWaC, that it ought to be amended. We suggest that CWaC comments on this.
The gap is important. As we prepared the Plan, the possible development of land east of Tarporley Road, owned by Church Farm, came forward. Our survey work as a Steering Group showed that residents valued the views into open countryside. Consequently, it was clear to us that any development which was approved should be designed in such a way as to minimise the impact on the view looking east from Tarporley Road.
CWAC added the following:
The Qualifying Body have asked us to add some clarification around their response to question 4 in your letter dated 15 March 2019, regarding the proposed Key Settlement Gap between Tarvin and Oscroft.
The methodology for identifying and defining key settlement gaps is set out in Local Landscape Policy Review Part 2 – Key Settlement Gaps. The study proposed 9 candidate key settlement gaps for consideration through the Local Plan (Part Two) process, which included the Tarvin and Oscroft gap as shown in the neighbourhood plan.
The key purpose of Local Plan (Part Two) was to ensure sufficient land was brought forward to meet the needs identified in the Local Plan (Part One) and to identify local service centres as required by policy STRAT 8 of the Part One plan. The Landscape Policy review paper was prepared before Local Service Centres had been identified.
In line with the requirements of Local Plan (Part One) policy STRAT 5, the 5 candidate key settlement gaps that safeguard the character and individuality of the settlements that form the wider built up area of Northwich have been identified for inclusion in policy GBC 3 of the submitted Local Plan (Part Two).
Inclusion of the other 4 candidate key settlement gaps (including Tarvin and Oscroft) was considered as an alternative option at Preferred Approach stage but they were not considered to be justified based on the strategic approach in the Local Plan (Part One,) as Oscroft was not identified as a local service centre. Therefore it was not considered necessary to pursue a key settlement gap in this location through the Local Plan (Part Two) although it is not considered that this would prevent Neighbourhood Plans bringing forward equivalent designations where justified.
ED: I hope you understood the above?