To receive the quarterly Local Plan response to government.
The Chair asked Stephen Miles to present.
Stephen Miles; when the council resolved to withdrew the local plan in April, they agreed to keep the government up to date with the progress on the new Local Plan for the district. The council will therefore be writing to Ministry on a quarterly basis. The paper presented is a drafted comment for government for your note and comment.
Cllr. Light raised a point on the wording of paragraph 9 " at cabinet on 9th July the Council agreed"..She suggested it should read "the Cabinet agreed"… The addendum was agreed by the group.
Cllr. Reeve asked the meaning of the acronym "MHCLG", he otherwise approved the wording.
Stephen Miles confirmed the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government.
Cllr. Bagnall suggested under the mitigating actions in the risk analysis it said "quarterly updates to MHCLG will provide the government confidence the council are working towards a new Local Plan". He suggested re-wording the statement as it would be the content of the update that would provide confidence.
Stephen Miles agreed this comment.
The Chair made some suggestions for the group to consider.
In the context of paragraph 8, between the 2 sentences he suggested adding the following wording or similar, "it should be noted that members did not accept the review teams recommendation that the members group should be small and held in private. This was considered to be unacceptable to both the members of the council who may wish to be involved in the process and more importantly to members of the public, to whom the council are committed to being open and transparent".
The group supported this insertion.
The Chair asked for clarification on paragraph 9, would be appropriate to replace the word process with " the Local Plan Leadership Groups recommendations to Cabinet"
Cllr. Bagnall remarked that the description was in line with the diagram and the proposed wording would change the context.
The group concluded that there was no need to change the wording in paragraph 9.
The Chair suggested at the end of the letter the proposed wording, "The Council wishes to emphasize that in producing the local plan it is currently totally committed to achieving the government's specified target adoption date for the Local Plan of the end of December 2023".
Cllr Light asked what happened if we don't meet the deadline.
Stephen Miles cautioned against committing to a date. Officers were currently working on the local development scheme for the Local Plan supported by a project plan to ensure the timetable being proposed is realistic.
He proposed giving the government an update of schedule in the next update after the council had looked at the timetable in more detail.
The Chair was wary if the council did not put forward a date, the following correspondence may still not give a proposed date of submission. He didn't think this was the right message to put across being non-committal.
Cllr. Bagnall challenged Stephen Miles regarding the government deadline date. Must set off with a clear deadline to meet the date of Dec 2023 and work backwards to make the project plan timeline fit. If it meant adding resources to meet the deadlines then it should be considered.
Cllr. Caton agreed with Cllr. Bagnall comments. He asked if the council were in danger of being inconsistent with the forecasts of the Peer Review Group if we aim for Dec 2023.
The Chair said he is aware the scheduled would be likely to slip, however he would rather the Council committed to a date.
Cllr Pavitt highlighted that in order to adopt the Local Plan in Dec 2023, it would need to be submitted at the end of 2022, giving the council approximately 2 years to get a plan together. He asked if this was possible. The Cllr. assumed that the Council would be submitting the Local Plan in Dec 2023 not adopting it. He said he was unsure of how to communicate with the ministry and what the best approach was.
Cllr Reeve was in favour of committing to the target. Then see the plan and challenge it later.
Cllr. Merifield felt it was gambling with the Local Plan. The Cllr. asked if senior officers had consulted with MHCLG.
Stephen Miles had spoken to the ministry with no specific timetable as the Council has no timetable.
Cllr. Pavitt suggested going with the target of Dec 2023 and then go back to the ministry when it is clear that we won't meet that date.
Cllr. Freeman supported Cllr. Bagnall's proposal of working backwards from the target date. A hard deadline focuses the mind and creates ways of doing things quickly. "failing to plan is planning to fail". The government changes deadline dates as routine.
Cllr. Bagnall said until there is a project plan timeline to review, there is no date we can provide.
Stephen Miles confirmed that there would be draft documentation submitted to the next group meeting. He that officer are working on a project plan to inform the timetable and they aim to be as ambitious as possible to meet the governments deadline as much as possible. Initial indications show that it will not be possible which is why he warned against committing to the adoption date of Dec 2023.
The council were advised by the Peer Review Team to follow the timetable of Selby Borough Council's timetable. One way to make the process shorter would be to remove the cut on of the stages of consultation. Going straight to the Reg 18 consultation would achieve this, however it's not a good solution as the council needs to engage with the districts communities in order to feed into the Local Plan work.
The reason why no date has been given in the draft letter is there is still no evidence that the deadline date can be met. He agreed with Cllr. Pavitt comment that if we want to adopt the local plan in Dec 2023, it would need to be submitted
in Dec. 2022. the REG 19 publication period would have to be in late summer, early autumn. Reg 18 would be the year before that.
Cllr. Merifield highlighted that some of the consultation periods were during holiday periods last time and this was not received well as it appeared that it was deliberate.
The Chair responded that public consultation may well be in July and August, however if there is slippage in the timetable it would mean the consultation would have moved.
The Group supported the adding the target date of Dec. 2023 to the quarterly Local Plan response to government.
Stephen Miles There is a proposed date of next meeting 18th August 7pm. Aiming to bring draft Local Development Scheme, Statement of Community Involvement and Project Initiation Document, which includes the timetable for the Local Plan.
Cllr. Freeman noted his apologies for the next meeting.
Cllr. Pavitt asked for the sustainability appraisal document to be shared well in advance due to its size for acceptable consideration. He said the website for the Local Plan needed to be made far more accessible and user friendly.
Cllr. Evans supported this proposal and raised this issue with officers. Search ability was a real issue on the current website. Highlighted that Braintree councils site was easier to navigate. Consultations will have to be dealt with in a different way due to the current circumstances.
Cllr. Caton asked if call for sites would be part of the local development paper.
Stephen Miles said the call for sites would be scheduled so that the information is available for the Council to assess the sites to feed into the preferred options for REG 18 Local Plan. This stage needed to be early on in the initial issues and options consultation work.
Cllr Reeve asked if the next Local Plan Leadership Group meeting could be sooner than the 18th.
Stephen Miles said the documents would not be ready for an earlier schedule.
Cllr. Bagnall asked for a map of the district that outlined existing infrastructure to get an insight into what the district looks like and what the needs are, including all the larger retail and business parks.
Stephen Miles agreed to share an infrastructure map with the group.
Cllr. Pavitt asked where the strategic thinking would come from before we accept the sites that are being offered for development. He said that an evaluation of job needs should be made and then the housing requirement would follow.
Stephen Miles said the second all member workshop with the Peer Review Team on Monday 3rd August would discuss spatial strategy. Initially at a high level, it is to encourage members to start considering this issue. The previous Local Plan had areas of search which was the Councils attempt to proactively identify potential where development might be more appropriate. There were areas identified for new communities and around exiting settlements. This approach could be used again. In carrying out this work early on in the process it is important not to promote this approach as a "done deal" to communities, the message would need to be managed.
Cllr. Tayler supported Cllr. Pavitt's comments and highlighted the importance of strategic cooperation with cross boundary partners to gain insight into job locations and infrastructure plans to make an informed decision on the location of new growth in the district.
The Chair brought the meeting to a close and thanked all participants for their contribution.
Meeting ended. 21:30