Agenda item

Local Plan Progress (Agenda item 9)

Report by the Planning Policy Team Leader.


The Planning Policy Team Leader provided Members with a summary of the report to enable discussion on the wider Local Plan vision and the setting of the Strategic Options that the Plan would seek to address.


The emerging vision and objectives had been developed reflecting the priorities and aspirations expressed by neighbourhoods, businesses and local organisations and had been built on the responses received through the stakeholder consultations and the Local Plan Working Group discussions.  It also reflected the supporting priorities established in Breckland Council’s 2015 Corporate Plan and reflected the requirements within the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).


Paragraph 1.6 outlined the key points received from consultations and paragraph 1.7 identified a number of commitments from the Corporate Plan.


The Planning Policy Team Leader said that he would like Members to discuss the strategic objectives on paragraph 1.11 of the report to establish if these reflected Members requests from previous meetings.


Councillor Duigan referred to page 23 of the agenda and asked the meaning of the word ‘self-containment’.  The Planning Policy Team Leader explained that from a strategic point of view, the emerging Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) identified most of Central Norfolk as the Housing Market Area (CNHMA).  By definition, a housing market area had a degree of self-containment whereby a high percentage of movement was between settlements.  This demonstrated that those settlements within the HMA functioned with a degree of linkage.  It would be misleading to refer to one settlement to be self-contained in strategic planning purposes.


Councillor Borrett asked if this CNHMA was available to view.  Members were informed that the Local Plan Working Group had been briefed on the emerging draft at an earlier meeting in March and that the report was available as a matter of record.


Councillor Borrett referred to the strategic vision within the report and did not disagree with any of it; however, some of the feedback he had been receiving from his community was in relation to the ‘dollops’ of development being built rather than just one or two dwellings as preferred.  He asked if there was something that could be added in the Plan for small growth such as one or two houses.


Members were informed that this approach had been included in the Issues & Options document and that this was an area the Local Plan would be developing.  There would be an opportunity to look at the approach to rural development at the September meeting.  Neighbourhood Plans could also do this, support rural development.  Councillor Borrett asked what about the villages that did not have a Neighbourhood Plan as this was about making it local and he asked the Executive Member, Councillor Charles Carter, to look into this.


Councillor Bambridge supported all what the aforementioned Member had said and felt that the villages had been let down by the previous Local Development Framework (LDF) and suggested that a Planning Inspectorate be invited to a future meeting to inform Members what should be included in a Local Plan.


The Chairman said she welcomed development and growth in villages as long as it was managed.


Councillor Linda Monument felt that those Members who were aware of the problems should consider what they would want to be built in a rural area and have for example, a one year policy with support from the whole village and Members should consider how this should be defined.  She had heard the phrase ‘beauty parade’ mentioned on several occasions, beauty, in her opinion, should not be mentioned as the word ‘beauty’ meant the land that no-one should be allowed to build on.  What it should be described as was the building of a catalogue of available places which were commercially viable and had been checked.  The Planning Policy Team Leader stated that these were referred as reasonable alternatives which did require an element of judgement.  He drew attention to a Neighbourhood Plan in Eden that had adopted an increment of rural development.  This Plan was readily available on the website.


Mr Atterwill asked if he could be supplied with a definitive timetable for this process which he felt would be very useful for parishes as it all sounded like a moveable feast. The Strategic Planning Manager appreciated everyone’s frustrations but this matter needed to be subject to discussion by this Group.  The Planning Policy Team Leader advised that their Service Delivery Plan was going to be discussed at a meeting following this Local Plan Working Group meeting and that once this had been agreed the LDS time line could be updated.  The Strategic Planning Manager informed the Group that the Local Development Scheme would be brought to the next meeting following which it could then be shared with the communities bearing in mind it would still be in draft.  Councillor Charles Carter could not see any reason why this draft timetable could not be circulated after the Service Delivery Plan meeting.  Councillor Borrett agreed, specific deadlines should be shared with the people who had to meet these deadlines.  If the Executive Member was comfortable with this approach, the Strategic Planning Manager said that the draft timetable would be issued by the end of the week. Members were reminded that the Planning Policy Team was aiming for consultation to take place at the end of this year guided by the Committee cycle.  There was still a great deal of evidence base still to come so there would be risks to the timeline.  The Chairman suggested that the timetable be issued stating that dates could be subject to change.


Councillor Borrett said that Members were very dependent on information from Officers and in terms of approach Members did not know that a completely different approach could be had in terms of sparsity. He felt that there was a specific issue with sparsity which were living communities and there needed to be something specific for Breckland.  The Council did not have the best solution to support such settlements and he was keen to put the parish councils in charge of this.  He would like to ‘park’ this with Officers and the Executive Member and bring something back to the next meeting.


The Planning Policy Team Leader stated that the seed had already been sown in the Issues and Options document which provided the hook for the Local Plan to develop policies in this area under question 65.  The Chairman agreed, it had already been mentioned under ‘clustering’ but felt that it should be mentioned again.


Councillor Wilkinson asked if there were consequences if parishes missed the deadlines.  Members were informed that the plan approach was an iterative approach and if any communities came forward, the Planning Policy Team would be happy to work with them as the Plan must be sound.  If any deadlines were missed then there would be further opportunities down the line.  Councillor Charles Carter felt that communication was key.


Mr Atterwill had concerns as to whether some Neighbourhood Plans would be fit for purpose.  The Planning Policy Team Leader explained that a Neighbourhood Plan had to conform to guidance and legislative processes to have weight and it also had to align with the Local Plan.  Mr Atterwill again asked the question about the information required for Swanton Morley in relation to how many houses and the land availability; however, this information would not be forthcoming as the detail was not yet available.  It was agreed that the Executive Member would continue to chase this matter.


The report was otherwise noted.



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