Agenda item

Adoption of the Thetford Area Action Plan (Agenda Item 6)

Report of the Assistant Director of Commissioning.

 

Due to its size, this report, together with Appendix A and Appendix B will be sent out as a supplement to the agenda.

 

Please note that Appendix C - the Sustainability Appraisal report, Appendix D – the Habitats Regulations Assessment, Appendix E –  the updated Policies Map, Appendix F – Minor Modifications (including Sustainability Appraisal of these minor modifications) and Appendix G – the Commitments Paper will only be available electronically and can be viewed on the website once the agenda has been published.

 

 

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Assets & Strategic Development introduced the report.  The Plan had been submitted before the implementation of the Localism Act and the National Planning Framework and if approved by Council would be adopted under the new planning regulations.

 

The TAAP was the culmination of a process that had begun in 2008 and had been subject to four rounds of public consultation and Examination in Public by an independent Government Inspector in March 2012.  The Government Inspector had heard submissions from various parties questioning the area action plan.  Some of the issues of concern included the lack of a town centre masterplan, the potential for the creation of a two-centre town and the moving of the bus interchange to the proposed Minstergate site.

 

Another representation centred on the lack of land allocated for development to the south east of the town.  That was due to the imposition of the 1500m buffer zone to protect Stone Curlews.  The Inspector had agreed with the Council’s precautionary approach and concluded that the single direction for expansion to the north was justified.

 

The precautionary principle had contributed to a reduction in housing numbers planned for through the TAAP from 6,500 to 5,000 dwellings.  An approach the Inspector concluded was justified.  Mitigation measures were being investigated to understand how development could proceed in the buffer zone without causing harm to the nesting sites of the Stone Curlew.  It was noted that the Woodlark and Nightjar had a separate 400m buffer zone.

 

With regard to the Thetford Town Centre Masterplan, a team had been appointed to carry out the work, which would take approximately six months.

 

The potential for creation of the two centre town had been assessed by the Inspector and he had stated that the other policies in the TAAP, taken together, convinced him that the northern extension to the town would not operate as a separate entity.

 

Moving the bus interchange had been the subject of much debate and criticism, however the Inspector had concluded that, on balance, it would seem to be a better solution for the regeneration of the town centre.

 

The Executive Member concluded by thanking the team of Phil Mileham, Natalie Beal, Jamie Smith and Sarah Robertson from Capita, under the direction of David Spencer, for their diligence and hard work in producing the document and he commended the Plan to Members.

 

Mr Jermy, speaking as a Thetford Member was concerned.  He welcomed growth and opportunities but they needed to be meticulously planned and he believed that the Plan would do little to improve residents’ lives.  The peripheral development would affect the town centre and create a two tier Thetford.  He could not support the Plan.

 

Mr Lamb clarified the position of the Town Council which he said was investigating the feasibility of challenging the Plan.  No decision had yet been made and he would therefore be abstaining from the vote.

 

Mr Kybird noted that the Plan was a Policy document not a delivery plan and would need sources of finance to make it deliverable.

 

The Leader of the Council encouraged the Town, District and County Councillors to work together to give the community what it needed for the best outcome for the Town.

 

The Chairman of the Overview & Scrutiny Commission was disturbed that some of the District Councillors were not supporting the Plan which had been thoroughly worked through.  Without growth for Thetford he believed that the town would be bypassed.

 

Mr Borrett echoed those comments and said that no other town in the District had received the amount of time, effort and consultation that Thetford had.

 

Mr Clark was concerned that education needed to be considered and without the necessary Infrastructure at an early stage there would be no place for the school children generated from the development.

 

RESOLVED to adopt the Thetford Area Action Plan DPD, including the minor modifications and the main modification recommended in the Inspector’s Report.

Supporting documents: