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Apologies for Absence and Declarations of Interest
To receive any apologies for absence and declarations of interest.
Apologies were received from Councillors Coote, Driscoll, Jones, Lavelle and De Vries.
To consider the minutes of the previous meeting.
The minutes of the Scrutiny Committee (Local Plan) meeting held on 23 June 2021 were approved.
Councillor Pavitt said that he had undertaken a Water Survey in response to an urgent need to better understand the water supply and related issues in the district. This had initially been suggested by Councillor Criscione as a Task and Finish Group for the Committee. Councillor Pavitt said that new houses were being built but the sewage infrastructure had not been upgraded for 30 to 40 years and problems were arising, for example sewage flooding into the rivers. He said there was a need to review the processes and mitigate these impacts by ensuring that future planning applications were properly and appropriately conditioned. He recommended that the Committee asked Officers to take the draft from the Task and Finish Group and submit a reworked document to the Committee next month.
The Committee thanked Councillor Pavitt for his work and supported the Water Survey and his recommendation. Councillor Evans agreed and said that the last Strategic Infrastructure Delivery Group (SIDG) meeting had covered water related matters but unfortunately Councillor Pavitt had not been free to attend.
The Chair read out a statement from Mr Ketteridge, who asked that the 16 larger sites that were being considered through the call to sites, within the Local Plan, were named. He said it was important for transparency to have the involvement of the Town and Parish Council’s at an early stage.
Councillor Evans said that these would be identified shortly but it was not possible to make them known at this stage.
The Local Plan and New Communities Manager said that a report would be taken to the Local Plan Leadership Group (LPLG) meeting in the next couple of weeks.
The Chair said that the sites needed to be named and that it was undemocratic to be having discussions without the knowledge of residents and Town and Parish Councils.
Councillor Sell agreed and said that Parishes were required to sign a confidentiality agreement and therefore there could be no issue. He said there was a lot of concern within the community and residents had a right to know which sites were potentially being considered.
The Local Plan and New Communities Manager understood the concerns expressed but said that no decisions had been taken on sites they were working with developers on a without prejudice basis to the assessment of sites, and he said that not all sites would make it to the next stage.
In response to a question from Councillor Sell about when sites would be finalised, the Local Plan and New Communities Manager said that there was a defined process and a potential site selection would be produced for the November LPLG meeting. The final sites would not be known until the draft Local Plan was decided upon early in the New Year.
The Chair said he was disappointed with the lack of transparency he said the disclosure of the sites should include early discussions with developers but needed to also involve local residents.
Councillor Evans said that democratic input ... view the full minutes text for item SC3
To consider the Local Plan Quarter 2 Project Management.
The Local Plan Project Manager gave an overview of the report and highlighted the following: -
Councillor Le Count asked if there was enough resource available to evaluate each of the 299 sites within the timeframe. The Local Plan Project Manager said that the consultants were looking at the factual evaluation in parallel with the Officer’s own assessments. These would then published in October to be shared with the Town and Parish Councils and Developers, he said that they would be able to keep to the timetable.
In response to questions from Councillor LeCount, Councillor Evans said that although the net zero carbon status was ambitious, it would be achieved through the policies within the Local Plan and advice from Consultants on best practice. This would then be reiterated continuously throughout the Local Plan process. The developers in the process would also need to pay attention to green issues and it would adversely affect their application if they did not. There would also be discussions with the Planning Development team, who would ultimately use these policies to direct developers to achieve net zero carbon status. The timescales were included in the Local Plan.
Further to a question from Councillor Sell the Director of Public Services said that the review of Planning Development and the resignation of the Assistant Director – Planning would not impact on the Local Plan timetable.
In response to a question from Councillor Sell, the Director of Public Services said there should be a very clear policy on affordable housing however there must always be discretion and scope for other material considerations that might justify a change to the policy. He agreed with Councillor Isham that any departure from the policy must clearly document what other considerations were made.
The Chair summarised the discussion, he said it was a superb and clear document, which showed that the process was under rigorous control. He asked that all the stakeholders be listed under bullet point 6 of the letter.
The Committee unanimously approved the report and the letter.
To consider Regulation 18 Local Plan Governance.
The Local Plan Project Manager said that the supplementary ‘Preferred Options Timetable’ aimed to make the report clearer. There were two proposed changes which would take more time but this would be made up later in the process. The first was to have an additional LPLG meeting in November to receive the report and set out the reasonable alternatives in order to meet the Council’s objectives. In February there would be four extra briefing sessions and a site visit day for the larger sites for the LPLG members to make sure that they were properly informed.
The Committee agreed unanimously with the report.
To consider the New Communities Collaboration Partnership.
The Local Plan Project Manager explained the report’s objectives and described the proposed partnership approach for larger developments in the Local Plan. He asked for Member’s feedback.
Councillor Sell said that this was the third attempt by the Council to deliver a Local Plan, he said it would inevitably upset some people. He said it was crucial that the Council could demonstrate that it was evidence led. He was encouraged by the report and had no issues.
Councillor Isham said that good progress had been made. He asked if there could be a reference document, providing examples and a guide for best practice, quality and great design which would also act as a checklist for the future. He said this was an opportunity for the Council to be a beacon of good quality and lasting affordable housing.
Councillor LeCount said he was still concerned about the target for net zero carbon and would like some more detail.
The Local Plan Project Manager said there was a parallel workstream which was considering examples of high quality design. He said it was the intention that this process was aspirational and encouraged good development in the district.
The Chair said he supported the approach he said it was a good document that brought together all aspects in a coherent whole. He asked if the role of the Town and Parish Councils could be made clearer as there was a great deal of knowledge and experience of the local area available.
The Local Plan Project Manager said that the Community Stakeholder Forums gave residents a proactive role in the process.
Councillor Evans said this flowed from the previous Local Plan and discussions with developers through the statement of common grounds.
The Committee accepted the report unanimously.
The meeting ended at 8.33pm.