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John, I think your last paragraph is very pertinent. Some LPAs and developers appear a bit slow to grasp that a NP is fundamentally NOT the same thing as a Local Plan. It follows a different, simpler process and there is a lot more scope for local variation, indeed that is an inherent part of the process. With ours its probably fair to say there was some initial frostiness with the LPA, particularly when they wanted us to use a specific, complex methodology for housing apportionment which they had developed (in draft for the next stage of their LP process) for Key Service Villages (which ours was). As mentioned, I’m a planner myself and did not agree with the approach they were suggesting, so we stuck to our guns and followed a much simpler population based “apportionment”. After some debate they ended up agreeing with us, recognising that there was nothing in the Local Plan which specified the approach to be used and that local variation was quite acceptable. Our approach also made the whole process simpler and quicker for us. From that point on we were on the same wavelength and they were very supportive. I think it just took a little while for them to adapt to the variations inherent in the NP process and to see it as a help rather than a threat.
When it came to Examination, one of the housing developers also fell into the trap of thinking of our NP as if it were a Local Plan, complaining we hadn’t done this, that and the other and trying to rubbish our approach to housing allocation. We pointed out that their objections just proved they did not understand the difference between a NP and a LP. Thankfully the Examiner (Nigel McGurk no less) agreed with our approach and found the document and our methodology sound.