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Update on Management Plan Revisions

Pete Thomas

From the previous discussion about Gallia Court planning application:

It’s also worth remembering that the Plan is still in its initial form (2008) and inevitably does not cover every eventuality that could arise. SCC is supposed to carry out a Conservation Area Appraisal every five years, but if it has done so, it does not seem to have suggested revisions to the Plan.

I believe this is best discussed in a separate thread so here it is.

We mentioned at the last AGM back in Jan 2020 that OTRA has been busy updating the C.A.M.P (Character Appraisal and Management Plan). We needed to remove out of date information, contact details, typos etc. but also wanted to clarify and simplify it in places. Some of the changes have been listed here. As John Marshall mentioned at the AGM, our suggested revisions were practically finalised and ready to be presented to the council, which we did in February when I met with our new (almost) full time conservation officer, Jon Willetts:
  • He seemed keen to be hands on, visit the Triangle and meet up with both the conservation committee and subsequently the residents (possibly at the proposed street party). For obvious reasons, this couldn't happen in 2020.
  • The council was unlikely to revise the C.A.M.P. in its current printed form. This was due partly to budget I imagine, but also because planning policy at both national and local level was about to change significantly. However I believe the work we did was not wasted and we now have some other options (see below re: website)
His view on conservation is that it is no longer about "preserving in aspic", but about sensitively managing change for modern needs. Indeed since 2008 a lot has changed, especially in regard to technology such as solar panels, electric vehicle charging points, demand for security CCTV cameras etc.

His comments on the C.A.M.P. are interesting. I think he was very impressed with the breadth of content and attention to detail but believed it was too formal (legalese/academic language). Also as far as layout is concerned it is not so easy for residents to quickly find relevant information. He would like to see more interactive media for this type of communication. (This is the current fashion, e.g. the planning portal interactive house).

He liked the summary advice page re: when planning permission is needed. (This is basically the same information we give in the yellow summary leaflet which accompanies the plan).

In addition we have followed his other suggestions and have been developing the OTRA website to take them into account - you can see the new site pages under the conservation tab above.
This is very much a work in progress and all comments are welcome. (Around this time we would probably have been having our AGM/social but sadly that is not going to happen yet as you can imagine. However we are happy to take questions and suggestions on this forum.

This raises a more general misconception, that the Management Plan is something that OTRA imposes on residents, potentially against their will. The Management Plan is a Southampton City Council document that they (should) use when preparing or evaluating planning applications. Occasionally, residents will disagree with the Council’s interpretation of the Plan and wish to make their own views known, but ideally this shouldn’t happen very often.

It is true there have been misconceptions about the role of OTRA in the operation of the Management Plan. We are sometimes asked about what OTRA allows (or not). OTRA can neither allow nor prohibit. I believe OTRA's role is advisory, both to residents and to the council. In fact another thing Jon Willetts mentions about the C.A.M.P. was that it should avoid negative language such as ...will be resisted...

OTRA may or may not influence planning decisions. We can draw planning officers' attention to the plan, but cannot dictate what any outcome will be, especially if some aspects are open to interpretation. (Something we ideally should be thinking about in regard to future revisions)

I like to think we are always following our objective (as mentioned in the constitution) to promote and safeguard the interests of the residents - and we should be aware that the Management Plan can introduce competing priorities to those of individual residents, particularly when residents wish to make disabilty related enabling modifications to their property. Gallia Court might have been one of these; in conversation, the SCC property programme manager said that in choosing coloured panels to replace the existing glass ones, the council had been mindful of the needs of partially-sighted residents.