(Epping Forest District Council) To report to the Committee on the current position of the new Local Plan for the Epping Forest District.
The Planning Services Director gave an update on the Local Plan. He advised that the consultation on the Main Modifications to the emerging Local Plan had closed Thursday 23 September 2021.
All of the consultation documentation had been available on the Council’s website and in hard copy if required. Both, the District Members and Local Town and Parish had received online presentations and developer briefing sessions had been hosted on the Main Modifications. The next steps were for Council officers to produce a summary report, as requested by the Planning Inspector with full representations to be published the Council’s website. Following this, the Planning Inspector would then determine whether the Local Plan was sound and produce a report to outline her recommendations. Finally, if the Planning Inspector found the Local Plan sound, the Council would put forward a recommendation to Council to adopt the Local Plan.
It was noted that the summary would be completed within the next couple of weeks.
The Committee asked the following questions;
· When was it expected that the Local Plan would be adopted? The Planning Services Director advised that the summary representation would be completed in the next couple of weeks, with representations uploaded to the website and submitted to the Planning Inspector for determination. It was anticipated that a report would be submitted to Council in December 2021 or early January 2022.
· Is the Planning Inspector being replaced? The Planning Services Director advised that the Planning Inspector was due to go on maternity leave in November, although a more Senior Inspector who was familiar with EFDC Local Plan would be taking over.
· What happens if the Planning Inspector finds the Local Plan unsound? The Planning Services Director that it would delay the Local Plan, although officers were confident that the Local Plan would be sound.
· Would the Planning Inspector receive a copy of all the representations or just a summary? The Planning Services Director advised that any representation over 300 words had to be summarised by officers and all other representations under would be submitted as written. All copies of the full representations would be uploaded to the Council website and available for viewing by the public and Planning Inspector.
The Committee members commented on the amount of work they had put into making representations on behalf of their Parish and Town Council and had concerns about EFDC officers summarising their representations. The Planning Services Director clarified that the representations over 300 words would be summarised although there would not a restriction on the number of words for the summary.
· Would it be possible for the Town and Parish Councils to view the summary before it was submitted to the Planning Inspector? The Planning Services Director advised that the Planning Inspector had request the summaries and it would not be wise to delay the process any longer than necessary. He would speak to the relevant team, to see whether there was anyway in which the summaries could be viewed before they were submitted. County Councillor S Kane advised that all the full comments from Town and Parish Council would be available online and to the Planning Inspector as well as the summaries.
* The following information was received from the Planning Policy Team.
“Clarification in respect of collation of Local plan Main Modifications Representations
The Main Modifications Consultation on the emerging Epping Forest District Local Plan closed on 23 September 2021.
The appointed Local Plan Inspectors, as part of the continuing Examination process, will consider all representations made on the proposed Main Modifications and the evidence presented throughout the duration of the Examination. For the avoidance of doubt, the Council will provide complete and full copies of all duly made representations on the Main Modifications to the Inspectors. This will include all supporting documents provided by representors.
Representations will have been redacted to remove any sensitive information (e.g. personal information, offensive and discriminative comments towards groups or individuals).
The Council will provide, in addition, for the Inspectors’ reference:
A document with responses ordered by Main Modification, by supporting document and by ‘other’ in cases where no Main Modification or supporting document is specified. For the purposes of this document, the Council has agreed with the Inspectors that the Council will summarise responses to questions 6 and 7 where the response exceeds 300 words. Question 6 asks why do you consider the Main Modification and/or supporting document is not legally compliant or is unsound and Question 7 asks the representor to set out what change(s) are considered necessary to make the Main Modification and/or supporting document legally compliant or sound. As agreed with the Inspectors, within any representations to a Main Modification/ supporting document/ ‘other’ where a response to question 6 or 7 exceeds 300 words it will be summarised to no more than 300 words. Responses that are summarised for the purpose of this document will be clearly stated as such with ‘Council Officer has summarised’ at the beginning. The document will also make clear how the reader can access the full representations.
An Excel document ordered by Representor to see what Main Modifications/ supporting documents/ ‘other’ each representor has commented upon.
An Excel document ordered by Main Modification/ supporting document/ ‘other’ to see the totality of responses for example, to a particular Main Modification.
The above additional documents are to be provided to the Inspectors alongside all full representations to assist in the process of reviewing all representations made. The Inspector will consider all representations in full.
The full representations, as well as the additional 3 documents outlined above, will be available on the Local Plan Examination Website and therefore accessible to all.
The Council has shared this note with Inspector Phillips and she has agreed to its contents.”