Agenda item

The National Planning Policy Framework and the Current LDF Policies (Agenda Item 7)

Report of the Executive Member for Assets & Strategic Development.

Minutes:

The Planning Policy Team Leader and the Planning Policy Officer presented the report.

 

Following the introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in 2012 a twelve month transitional period had been allowed for dealing with planning applications.  During that time, full weight could be given to any approved Local Plan.  That transitional period ended in March 2013.

 

It was now necessary to assess all the Council’s planning policies for conformity with the NPPF and if there was any conflict, to assess if the policy should still carry weight.  The two main documents to be considered were the Core Strategy Policies and the Site Specifics Policies.

 

The Thetford Area Action Plan (TAAP) had been adopted after the introduction of the NPPF and the Planning Inspector had confirmed that it was in conformity.  Its Policies therefore continued to carry full weight.

 

Appendix A to the report set out the assessment of Policies within the Core Strategy and Appendix D did the same for Policies within the Site Specifics document.   All Policies in both documents were considered to be conforming or part conforming to the NPPF.

 

Attention was drawn to a couple of Policies in particular.  Policy CP1 was only part conforming as the NPPF required the Council to have a full five year housing land supply.  Growth location was OK but numbers were not.

 

There was a slight change to Affordable Housing Sites Policy, which no longer required the whole site to be for affordable housing.

 

The removal of Planning Policy Guidance and Statements left gaps in the current Policies, which needed to be addressed.  One such gap was in relation to rural workers.

 

A large amount of technical advice had also been left out of the NPPF and the Government was reviewing the best way to reproduce that advice and the outcome of that review was awaited.

 

Cabinet had considered the way forward and recommended a Local Plan for the whole district.  All Core Strategy Policies and land allocations would be reviewed and until then all the Policies would remain in place.

 

Councillor Lamb asked how firm the TAAP was and was advised that the TAAP could be given full weight in the decision making process.  Members could still take a balanced view on proposals.  In future the TAAP would be morphed into the wider Local Plan and there might be a need to update some policies due to increased growth to the north of the town.

 

Councillor Lamb asked why Policy DC17 was only partly conforming and the Planning Manager explained that under the NPPF the demolition of historic buildings was permitted in certain cases.  The Council’s policy did not allow for demolition of historic buildings and therefore it did not conform to the NPPF.

 

Councillor Bambridge asked if it would be easier to permit new dwellings outside Settlement Boundaries in future and was advised that the process would be largely the same.  A case would still need to be made.

 

Councillor Claussen asked for the gap in the housing land supply to be explained as the Council were regularly approving new developments.  It was explained that the five year supply could only include developments that would be built within that time.  Many of the large developments approved by the Council had phased development and so could not be counted towards the five year supply.  Also, each year that the Council under delivered on its housing target, it added to the residual supply need, creating a five year supply circle.  The new Local Plan would look closely at the numbers required.

 

Councillor Spencer asked about ‘exceptional’ houses and it was noted that to meet the requirements of that policy the design had to be exceptional in a National context and very few such houses came forward.

 

The Chairman asked if CP2 sites were still concentrated in the south of the District and was advised that they were, and work was underway by the Council’s Housing Team which would inform future proposals.

 

The Chairman thanked the Officers for a very good report.  The report was noted.

 

Supporting documents: