Saving The Donkey Field At Seaview since 2008
Save the Donkey Field – The Story from 2008 Residents, neighbours and other concerned parties have been actively campaigning to Save the Donkey Field since 2008. The group is now an unincorporated association under the title ‘savethedonkeyfield.co.uk’. A copy of the constitution is available here. The group believes that the green meadows form an important space between Seaview and Nettlestone and should not be built on. In 2008 speculation was rife about the production of the next Island Plan for the forthcoming ten years. The specific concern was that the Donkey Field would be put forward for development and included in the forthcoming plan. In the event it was not put forward. However the threat clearly remained and monitoring has continued to the present day. Although scheduled for 2010, the Island Plan was not actually adopted until 2012. It is the 2012 Island Plan that remains in force, albeit a draft of the next Island Plan was issued in early 2019 for consultation (see below). There has been a fundamental shift. The 2012 Island Plan did not identify Nettlestone and Seaview as growth areas. That has changed. The draft Island Plan for 2019 designates Nettlestone and Seaview as development areas. Housing targets have been imposed as a result of central Government algorithms. Those targets do not represent Island or local needs and, from the number and location of sites now subject to planning applications, it is feared that the green fields will disappear and housing development will be allowed to sprawl from Ryde to Bembridge. Save the Donkey Field must be seen in that context. There is a process here which appears somewhat opaque and confusing and, in important respects, is controversial.
- Government sets an overarching policy – The current Government policy in formulation is to generate house building by a reform of the planning process and a determination of need in any given location by way of an algorithm.
- The Island MP, Bob Seely, has been very vocal in his criticism of this approach which had led to targets being imposed on the Island which are wholly unrealistic and unsuited to its needs. He led a critical debate in the House of Commons on 8 October 2020 against the imposition of housing by algorithm, a report of which can been found at ‘Supporting Bob Seely MP’s housebuilding allocation campaign’.
- The Local Authority produce a draft plan – An Island Plan is produced which seeks to implement the Government policy in the context of local needs, limitations and circumstances. This currently is in draft form, it purports to recognise local housing needs (albeit imposed by central Government) and sets out how to satisfy that need. It is put out for public consultation and is subject to approval by Government appointed inspectors. As explained above, the draft Island Plan, if implemented, identifies Nettlestone and Seaview as growth areas for development.
- Call for Sites and SHLAA – For the purposes of producing the draft Island Plan, potential development sites need to be identified. The Local Authority does so by initiating a ‘Call For Sites’ process by which site-owners or developers submit (in standard form) a site for consideration. Those sites are reviewed by the local Authority under a process called the Strategic Local Housing Availability Assessment (SLHAA). This is a preliminary sifting process and is not a planning application as such. It determines whether development of the site is consistent with current policy, whether it is “deliverable” and, if so, how many houses and in what timescale. SHLAAs are produced relatively frequently. A list of the SHLAAs and other relevant processes since 2007 is set out below:
- April 2007 GVA IoW Housing Market Assessment.
- Aug 2008 GVA SHLAA.
- Oct 2008 GVA Addendum to 2007 document.
- Oct 2010 SHLAA published.
- April 2011 SHLAA published.
- January 2012 SHLAA published.
- April 2013 SHLAA Update published.
- April 2014 SHLAA Update published.
- Sept 2014 SHLAA Update published.
- April 2015 SHLAA Update published.
- Nov 2018 SHLAA published – Not labelled an Update.
- The SHLAA published in November 2018 – The 2018 SHLAA confirms that the Donkey Field (IPS104) and the adjacent field (IPS125) have been submitted under the Call for Sites process and that the SHLAA has determined both sites were individually deliverable and developable. The Draft Island Plan proposes that the Donkey Field and the adjacent field are available for and should be designated for development for up to 25 houses (see reference HA073).
In 2008, the group commissioned a report by David Long BA (Hons) P&D MA RTPI of The Christopher Scott Practice, Planning Consultants, and submitted it to the IoW Council setting out why the Donkey Field and the adjacent field were unsuitable for development. You can view the report here. The 2008 report examines the suitability of the land for housing development from a strategic perspective based on the Core Strategy in place at that time. It also examines the issues that will arise or are likely to arise in respect of the deliverability of any housing development. Those issues, both strategic and practical, will need to be re-appraised and updated in light of any planning application that is submitted and, further, in light of the policies reflected in the Island Plan when it is eventually finalised. It is believed that all of the points made will remain relevant. The 2008 report was re-submitted in March 2015 with an updated letter confirming its validity in light of the threat posed by increasing demands by central Government for local authorities to provide development sites. It was re-submitted in 2019 as part of the consultation on the 2019 draft Island Plan. We await the results of the consultation. As a result of our review of documents received from the Council under a recent Freedom of Information request, we have significant reservations about the accuracy of one of the submissions which accompanied one of the sites submitted to the SHLAA process. We are pursuing this line of enquiry. We have also learned that pre-planning application advice has been provided by the Council to Eton College and their agents. We have asked for copies of the advice but have been told it is confidential. For a precis of recent events concerning the Donkey Field which seem to anticipate a planning application please see our Newsletter page.