To receive a verbal update on the Local Plan.
Natalie Blaken (Interim Planning Policy Manager) provided an update on the Local Plan and reminded members of the process and consultation that had occurred to date, culminating in the Inspector’s advice in August 2019. The Local Plan had reached an advanced stage and had significant weight for planning decisions and appeals. The Council has carried out further work to address the comments made by the Inspector in August 2021, when she advised what was required to make the Local Plan sound.
There was one round of statutory consultation on the main modifications. It was important to note that the main modifications did not change the spatial data. The Council were working with the Inspector to produce a schedule of the main modifications, this would be published with supporting documents on the Local Plan website and be made available at local libraries and the Council Offices. The statutory consultation period of six weeks, which should start the week commencing 5 July 2021, had been extended to mid-September to account for the holiday period. A briefing had been arranged for all members on 28 June 2021, everyone on the consultation database would be contacted, there would be a developers’ forum and Town and Parish Councils would be briefed. All the responses would be provided to the Inspector for consideration before she produced her final report and recommendation. The Local Plan could then be adopted by the Council, if it chose to make the main modifications recommended by the Inspector.
Cllr Lion what asked what was expected to come out of the consultation. He was advised that the focus would be, if the main modifications were appropriate and sound. Three groups of responses were anticipated: developers and landowners; Statutory Consultees and Parish and Town Councils; and a large volume of public responses.
Cllr Janet Whitehouse suggested that written reports were required for scrutiny and asked why officers could attend by zoom and members couldn’t. The Service Director for Planning Development, Nigel Richardson, advised that a verbal information report was provided as dates for consultation had just been agreed and that working practices in relation to Covid safety and the distance the officer needed to travel had led to the decision to present in a virtual manner. The Chairman confirmed that he had accepted this verbal update but that future reports to the Committee would be written.
Cllr Bassett asked what would happen when the local plan had been adopted, as sites allocations, offices of national statistics, and housing and employment data would all be 10 years old. Would an early review be planned and what would be the ongoing process. The Committee were advised that when the Local Plan was adopted it would be a statutory development plan and decision must be taken in accordance with that plan unless there were material considerations. At this time there was no indication that the Inspector would require an early review, but this could be in Inspector’s final report, although clear reasons for the review would be required. The Local Plan had been developed using previous guidance, if the process was started again new guidance would be applied, however the development plan stands until it is changed. The plan would move to the delivery and implementation phase.
Cllr Lion asked if there would be a published implementation plan, N Blaken advised that there was a housing implementation strategy. There would be corporate working and work would be carried out with developers and Qualis to implement the Local Plan.
Members of the Committee discussed several scenarios that related to changes in permitted development rights, and they were advised in summary that as no planning application was required these would sit outside the development plan.
The update on the Local Plan was noted by the Committee.