To consider the Addendum of Focussed Changes to the Local Plan Regulation 19 Pre-Submission document.
Members considered a report setting out further detail around an addendum of focussed changes to the Regulation 19 Local Plan.
The Chairman invited the Planning Policy Team Leader to introduce the report.
The Planning Policy Team Leader said the report recommended an Addendum of Focused Changes to the Regulation 19 Local Plan. The Addendum contained changes to the plan covering three different issues. In summary the issues were the elevated level of risk around the delivery of West of Braintree Garden Community following the letters from the Inspector at the North Essex Authorities examination, and the measures the Council would take if there were delivery issues around this site; the strategic policies for the purposes of Neighbourhood Planning; and further detail on the policy protection of European protected sites.
The Planning Policy Team Leader highlighted briefly the changes relating to West of Braintree. He said officers recommended the plan should reflect an elevated level of risk around the delivery of this site, but were not recommending removing the site from the plan and allocating alternative sites in its place. It was still considered a sustainable location for major development with a reasonable prospect of delivery on the site.
The Planning Policy Team Leader continued to speak to the report. He said it was also recommended that if at a point in the future it became apparent West of Braintree was significantly delayed or was not deliverable, and that restricted the Council’s ability to meet its housing requirements, then an early review of the Local Plan should be taken.
At the request of the Chairman, the Director – Public Services gave an outline of the QC’s advice which the Council had obtained, and on which the focussed changes were based.
The Chairman said he was aware that Stebbing Parish Council representatives were present at this meeting, and that they had met with the Planning Policy Team Leader, and had found the explanation of Counsel’s advice on West of Braintree to be helpful.
The Planning Policy Team Leader said a paper had been tabled with an additional amendment to SP5, including reference to developers entering into a ‘Quality and Collaboration Partnership’ if there was a privately led arrangement.
He said in addition to the Addendum of Focussed Changes the report also noted the publication of two updates to the evidence base. The first was an update to the Spatial Strategy Background Paper, to build upon the document that had been published in June. The second was a review of the employment policies in the Regulation 19 Local Plan. The review of employment policies included a number of suggested amendments to the plan. Officers were not recommending these changes were incorporated, as they did not go to the soundness of the plan and would dilute the focus of the document.
At the request of the Chairman, the Planning Policy Team Leader explained why it was not possible to incorporate the new household projections into an update of the SHMA and Local Plan and then submit on or before 24 January. He explained that if the Council submitted after 24 January, the District’s housing requirement would either be the same as it is now, or it could potentially rise. If the Council were to submit after 24 January it would be bound by the standardised methodology, which currently calculated to 13,900 homes in the district, practically the same requirement as the current requirement.
Councillor Barker said in view of the Inspector’s letter, the contingency approach recommended was a pragmatic way forward. The Council would be likely to have to accept that at least some modifications were necessary.
At the request of the Chairman, the Planning Policy Team Leader explained that the Spatial Strategy Background Paper pulled together the development of the Local Plan. As such, it collated much existing evidence base in order to explain the strategy in the plan. It therefore included historic information, where the situation had now moved on. Regarding Mr Gregory’s reference to access to NUGC from Cow Lane, he suspected the inclusion of such historic information was the case here.
The Chairman said these were relatively small changes to reflect the developing situation at the North Essex Authorities examination. He then read out the recommendation, which was duly carried as follows.
The Planning Policy Working Group is a working group, not a decision-making body. A report to the full Council meeting on 9 October 2018 has been published. This includes a recommendation that the Addendum of Focussed Changes be published in accordance with the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012. RESOLVED that officers report to full Council the comments of the Planning Policy Working Group as set out in the draft Minutes of this meeting.
The meeting ended at 8.15pm.
Summary of Statement of Neil Gregory
Mr Gregory spoke in relation to the following points:
- papers were only made available on Monday. It is undemocratic to have only three days to read lengthy papers;
- it is not clear whether West of Braintree is “on hold” or not;
- it appears that the update of the Spatial Strategy Background Paper is not available for comment; it also contains errors, e.g. North Uttlesford Garden Community access from Cow Lane and good access for walking and cycling for North Uttlesford Garden Community;
- changes to the Objectively Assessed Housing Need mean that this is a chance to pause and reflect, which would be prudent and democratic;
- there has been considerable overspend on the Local Plan.