Agenda item

Local Plan Issues & Options Document (Agenda Item 15)

Report by the Executive Member for Assets & Strategic Development.

 

Due to their size, the Issues and Options document and the Interim Sustainability Appraisal document are only available electronically.

 

Cabinet Members will be provided with an updated copy of the Issues and Options document.

 

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Assets & Strategic Development presented the report.  The recommendation had been modified by the information in the Agenda Supplement due to concerns raised by a member of the public in Attleborough and a requirement to improve consistency with the Attleborough Link Road report.

 

He asked Members to approve the publication of the document for public consultation and stressed that it was not a Policy.  It covered a range of issues and options and was not site specific, but it did included a call for local landowners to submit sites for inclusion.

 

If approved the consultation would commence on 17 November 2014 and run for eight weeks, two weeks longer than required to allow for Christmas.

 

All town and parish councils would be sent a hard copy of the document by 1 November and would be invited to a briefing in Dereham on 17 November.

 

The Planning Policy Team Leader then gave further information on the document which he reiterated was not a Site Specific or Policy document.  It was a high level consultation giving an opportunity to the widest possible number of stakeholders to consider and provide comments.  It would give members of the public the opportunity to ensure that all relevant issues were explored and addressed.

 

An updated evidence base had been used including emerging evidence from the Local Plan Working Group.  There had been significant Member input.  It built on the previous work done in Attleborough including the Link Road options.  The Agenda Supplement contained revised information to update that.

 

The document offered flexible options and requested feed back.  Going forward the consultation would follow the guidelines set out in the Statement of Community Involvement.

 

Councillor Claussen raised concerns that the Gypsy & Traveller information was very one sided and ignored guidance on consulting with the settled community.  The latest Government document clearly said that both sides must be consulted.

 

The Chairman said that it was up to residents and members to modify the document through their comments and the Executive Member for Assets & Strategic Development confirmed that changes would be incorporated in the Preferred Options Document.  The document asked questions and if the feedback indicated that they were the wrong questions they would be changed but those changes would be evidence based.  The document was much more Breckland friendly than the last one and gave the Council a chance to create a thriving and more sustainable rural community.

 

Councillor Cowen agreed that the document asked more open questions.  He thought that the table on page 136 (of the document not the agenda) was very informative.  He thought it was important to get the message across to people that the District was not unsustainable.  All communities had to travel by car due to inadequate public transport but that did not make a village unsustainable, so no areas should be excluded from additional development.

 

Referring to the Housing Land Supply he said that a lot of small amounts of housing were needed to address the shortfall and the areas with the necessary power, water and drainage to provide that were villages.  Without additional development they would decline.

 

He questioned the supposition that most people based in rural areas were in agricultural employment.  He did not think that was the case; there were many small businesses in rural communities.

 

The Executive Member for Finance agreed that small development was needed in rural communities and she noted that often the lack of a footpath made such applications unsustainable in planning terms.  However, many villages did not have footpaths and that should not preclude development.

 

The Executive Member for Democratic Services & Public Protection agreed that it was an issue to be addressed and sustainability needed to be ‘Breckland based’.  He hoped that the local press would publicise the consultation as it would only work if a majority of people commented upon it.

 

The Executive Member for Planning, Building Control and Housing agreed.  She said that all Councillors had been invited to the meetings to provide input to the document and now it needed public input.  She asked Members to push that news out to everyone.

 

The Chairman advised that there would be a press release if the document was approved but the Council would not rely solely on the press to promote it.  All Ward Members would be responsible for ensuring that their communities were aware of it.

 

The Executive Member for Assets & Strategic Development confirmed the proposed dates for drop-in sessions for town and parish councils as follows:

 

            Attleborough  Town Hall                   4 December 2014

            Dereham Memorial Hall                   20 November 2014

            Swaffham Assembly Rooms           24 November 2014

            Thetford Guildhall                              29 November 2014

            Watton Queens Hall                          27 November 2014

 

Those dates were in addition to the briefing session for town and parish councils to be held in Dereham on 17 November 2014.

 

Options

 

(1)               to approve the Local Plan Issues and Options paper and the interim Sustainability Appraisal for eight weeks’ public consultation

(2)               to approve the Local Plan Issues and Options paper and the interim Sustainability Appraisal for eight weeks’ public consultation in principle and to authorise the Deputy Planning Manager to make any necessary minor corrections, factual updates, formatting changes and other non-material changes that are identified prior to the publication of the Issues and Options consultation;

(3)               not to approve to publish the Issues and Options paper and the interim Sustainability Appraisal for public consultation.

 

Reasons for Recommendation(s)

 

It is recommended that the Council endorse Option 2.  To move the Local Plan forward, it is important that the public opinions are sought on time for the next stage of work.  This Issues and Options paper contains important strategic considerations, which should be tested widely before any subsequent strategies are set.

 

RESOLVED to:

 

(1)               approve the Local Plan Issues and Options paper, as amended by the Agenda Supplement for Item 15, and the interim Sustainability Appraisal for eight weeks’ public consultation; and

(2)               authorise the Deputy Planning Manager to make any necessary minor corrections, factual updates, formatting changes and other non-material changes that are identified prior to the publication of the Issues and Options Consultation, including changes brought about by the decision made on the Attleborough Link Road option.

Supporting documents: