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We helped Purbeck District Council to lay the foundations for a better future for its residents before becoming part of a new local authority, drawing up plans to maintain the area’s distinctive character while supporting sustainable growth.

In April 2019, Purbeck District Council (PDC) became part of a new Dorset Council. Before it ceased to exist, members wanted to create a strong Local Development Plan (LDP) to hand on to Dorset Council that covered its strategic objectives, plans for how it had intended to use land in the area and its policies for managing development.

PDC faced several challenges in drafting the document. The tight timescale driven by local government reorganisation was challenging but this was exacerbated by the staff’s limited experienced resource. Some communities (including some town and parish councils within the district) were particularly motivated and opposed to change, especially in the form of new housing. There was also governmental pressure in the form of changes to the NPPF introducing the standard method for calculating housing need and the Housing Delivery Test. There were also significant infrastructure constraints and pinch points for PDC, such as managing the flow of summer visitors to the area and the rise of second homes. The council needed to address these challenges with an appropriate policy response that protects the local landscape.

Capita’s Associate Director together with Principal Planners from the North East and Northern Ireland development planning teams shared responsibility for all aspects of the Plan’s preparation with the PDC officers. Our Associate Director became PDC’s interim planning policy manager for more than a year before its incorporation into Dorset Council. Our experienced staff worked closely with councillors, neighbouring authorities, statutory consultees, and senior officers through the plan development from public consultation, evidence review, drafting the plan, publication through to submission.

The final vision and policies aimed to strike a balance between conserving PDC’s distinctive environment, cultural heritage and settlements while supporting sustainable growth. This meant responding to local residents’ housing and employment needs by providing an appropriate mix of housing (including affordable housing) and promoting a prosperous and diverse local economy.

Between February and October 2018, we reviewed all the evidence gathered alongside the consultation proposals and responses to them to provide critical friend analysis. This helped us provide advice on policy formation to place the plan in the best position for adoption.

The success of meeting this submission target date lay in the project plan that was implemented through effective communication between our team and PDC employees.  As a result, we exceeded the target delivery expectations set at the beginning of the project and submitted the plan for examination in January 2019 — two months ahead of schedule.

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