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Dorset Heathlands Planning Framework

Local Planning Authorities in south east Dorset have produced a planning framework to manage pressures on sensitive heathlands resulting from development.

The local authorities whose areas contain lowland heath protected by international designations have produced the the following document for their protection:

The framework has been in place since December 2006, and its purpose is to ensure that there is no net increase in urban pressures on the heaths as a result of additional residential development between 400 metres and five kilometres of heathland. The framework and accompanying  appendix (pdf, 259kb) (opens in a new window) demonstrate how harm to the protected heathlands can be avoided based upon a range of measures and sets out a mechanism to be applied cross boundary by the relevant local authorities. Following various public consultations during October 2006, December 2010, February 2012 and January 2015, the document was agreed by the councils of Bournemouth, Christchurch, East Dorset, Poole and Purbeck which lie within the five kilometre zone from the protected heathlands.

An overview map of the 400 metres to five kilometre zone is contained within the document.   Natural England (opens in a new window) provide maps showing the more detailed 400 metre zone around the protected heathland sites. Further evidence reports have also been prepared to support the document's preparation.

Adoption of the Dorset Heathlands Planning Framework 2015-2020

The Local Authorities of Bournemouth, Poole and Purbeck have adopted the Dorset Heathlands Planning Framework 2015-2020 Supplementary Planning Document, which took effect on 19 January 2016. Christchurch and East Dorset have also adopted the document, with it taking effect on 3 January 2017.

Consultation on the Dorset Heathlands Planning Framework 2015-2020

The Local Authorities of Bournemouth, Christchurch, East Dorset, Purbeck, Poole and Dorset County Council produced for consultation an updated planning framework. This consultation ran for 6 weeks until the 18 February 2015. The consultation document is still available to view:

The Borough of Poole (opens in a new window) co-ordinated the consultation arrangements on behalf of the local authorities.

Unilateral planning obligations - Christchurch and East Dorset

In order to fund the measures set out in the Heathland Planning Framework, residential developments are required to pay a contribution for each dwelling granted planning permission. For Christchurch and East Dorset, the contribution is currently £241 per house and £164 per flat (Index Linked). There is also an administration fee of five per cent of these sums, subject to a minimum of £75 and a maximum of £1,000. This contribution is in addition to the Community Infrastructure Levy.

Those applying for planning permission should provide an agreement to make the payment before the development starts. This agreement is known as a unilateral undertaking and should be submitted with the planning application. A version has been prepared that can be applied to planning applications either in Christchurch or East Dorset Councils:

In order that it is completed and executed correctly, you will almost certainly need legal advice. When submitting the document to us you will need to provide evidence of who owns the property and whether there are others with an interest in it, for example, a mortgage lender. For most properties this will be an up to date official copy of the register of title from the Land Registry. The evidence of title required is the same as if you were selling the property. Unless and until an agreement in the correct form is executed and agreed by us, planning permission cannot be issued.

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