To consider the summary of responses received to the Regulation 18 Draft Local Plan and the areas where further work and consideration are required.
The Working Group considered a report noting responses received to the regulation 18 draft Local Plan.
The Chairman thanked officers of the Council for their work distilling nearly 6000 comments into the report. He said this work was a key part of the Local Plan development process. The representations had to be considered for the consultation to be meaningful. This was the second of four rounds of consideration of the draft plan consultation. Further studies had been initiated out of the consideration of responses so far. The third stage was when responses to the representations made during the consultation would come back to a future meeting of the working group, and the fourth stage was when the regulation 19 Local Plan was put together.
In response to the statement from Ken McDonald, the Planning Policy Team Leader said the Council had arrived at its Total Housing Need figure through evidence from the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA). The SHMA would be the documents examined by the inspector of the Local Plan to ensure it was robust. If the Housing Need figure was calculated using different trend years, the level of need would be different. However the SHMA, the NPPF and the NPPG had advised that household projections published by the Department for Communities and Local Government should provide the starting estimate for overall housing need, and that the objectively assessed need set out in the published SHMAs were the best figures to be using. Government guidance and professional advice was also that these were the figures which should be consulted on. The Council had published an Employment Needs paper in October. In this paper, a preferred scenario included 4 major drivers of additional job growth above the moderated baseline. One of these drivers was growth at Stansted Airport, which resulted in the figure being adjusted by 6750 jobs.
The Chairman said recent visits by an inspector had indicated the numbers being used for the draft plan were appropriate, and that Uttlesford District Council should be mindful of this. There had been a lot of consideration of these numbers. However, the inspector said the Council should also bear in mind the recent government consultation the right homes in the right places.
In response to the statement by Councillor Hargreaves, the Chairman said concerns regarding water provision were not unique to Uttlesford. A key piece of work for the Local Plan was an update to the water study, which was currently in progress. The government had committed to building one million homes and while it would be guided by the Environment Agency, it would want to look for solutions to water problems.
The Planning Policy Team Leader said the Council had met with the water providers in the area to initiate an update to the Council’s water cycle study. The Council was seeking to address the issue and were awaiting the results of the study.
The Planning Policy Team Leader said the covering report set out the summary of representations to the consultation, and gave an outline of how the report was structured. Proposed responses to the representations would be brought to the working group at a later date.
The Planning Policy Team Leader said the Council had received an email from Elsenham Parish Council which said its consultation response had been summarised slightly inaccurately in the report. An updated summary of the report had been circulated with the agreement of Elsenham Parish Council. Members noted this change to the report.
In response to a question from the Chairman, the Planning Policy Team Leader said other work had been commissioned in response to representations received. This included an update to the Transport Study. Discussions had taken place with South Cambridgeshire District Council and Cambridgeshire County Council to make sure the evidence base reflected concerns about traffic that could be generated by a new settlement in the north of Uttlesford. Part of the work being completed by the Planning Policy team was supporting work for a bid to upgrade the A505. The Chairman said this sort of joined up work with other councils was very important. It was the Council’s responsibility to mitigate any extra pressure which might be created by new settlements.
The Planning Policy Team Leader said that in response to representations submitted to the Council, work had been commissioned to provide information about the impact of potential garden community sites on archaeology. A full Historic Impact Assessment was also being completed and could be finished in the next few months. Representatives of the Council had also met with Sport England to discuss a new sports and playing facilities strategy. This would possibly take up to 12 months to complete. Sport England had said it would not object to further iterations of the Local Plan if it was involved in study and the drafting of policy.
In response to a question from Councillor Lodge, the Planning Policy Team Leader said the phrase ‘no mitigation measures or recommendations are proposed’, which was used throughout the report, was intended to mean that no mitigation was suggested at this stage, as the Council was not yet proposing responses to representations. At future working groups, recommended responses would be brought along with appropriate mitigation.
Councillor Lodge said that even though there would be no responses to the commentsmade during the consultation at this stage, it was important that people know the Council was intending to respond the representations made.
The Chairman reiterated that responses to consultation submissions will be proposed at a future meeting of the working group and put online. The Planning Policy Team Leader said responses would be provided by policy.
In response to a question from Councillor Mills, the Planning Policy Team Leader said the Infrastructure Delivery Plan update would look at all forms of infrastructure and how they were needed to meet development needs in the draft plan. The updated Infrastructure Delivery Plan was being produced by Troy Planning, but was not expected until towards the end of the period for gathering the evidence base, because other evidence was needed to feed into it.
Ken McDonald and Councillor Hargreaves spoke on this item. A copy of both statements are appended to these minutes