Agenda item

Local Plan Preferred Directions (Agenda Item 12)

Report of the Executive Member for Growth.

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Growth introduced the report.  He updated Members on changes that had been made to the documents including the use of pastel shades; all maps would be included in the documents when they were sent out for consultation; and, the documents reflected the rural nature of Breckland District.

 

The Planning Policy Team Manager thanked Members for their input into the documents, which were now ready for consultation with stakeholders and the public.  The report provided Members with a detailed outline of how the Local Plan had been set out. 

 

The purpose of the Preferred Directions Consultation was to outline the Council’s preferred policy direction on strategic issues, its preferred development management policies and the range of emerging site options.

 

A key area was Strategic policy which was based on the level of growth and represented a reduction from the current Core Strategy target of 780 dwellings per year to 597.  68% of growth remained directed towards Thetford and Attleborough and a number of settlements had also become Local Service Centres.  A Settlement Boundary review of the rural settlements currently with Settlement Boundaries would be carried out as part of the process at later stages.

 

The Emerging Site Options document (Appendix 2) contained maps of the site options in the settlements identified as the proposed development hierarchy including Local Service Centres. Following a request from the Executive Member an assurance was given by the Policy Team Leader that the maps would be reviewed and the rural maps included before the document went out to consultation.

 

It was proposed that the Affordable Housing target would be 36% which reflected information provided from the Strategic Housing Market Assessment.  However the final figure would be subject to a viability assessment and would be reported to the Local Plan Working Group.

 

The Development Management Policies had been reviewed and updated against the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework and would remain flexible.

 

Parking standards had been incorporated as requested by the Executive Member and incorporated into the principles of Housing Policy where the issues of off-street parking provision would be addressed during the application process.

 

A Technical Standard Policy had been introduced with a requirement for 5% of properties to include disabled access and adaptability to properties in order to evoke a requirement in Building regulations through the Local Plan; however this percentage remained flexible and recommendation could change following the consultation and further evidence.

 

Updated maps of Swaffham and Dereham had been circulated to Members and would be included in the consultation documents.

 

It was proposed that a six-week consultation process would commence on 11 January – 22 February 2016.  A communications plan was in the process of being developed and Members would be informed in due course.

 

Councillor Bambridge asked if there would be public meetings within Breckland to discuss the proposals.  In addition he asked if the developments would include affordable housing and not just social rented housing.  The Chairman said that the communications plan would be discussed at the next Overview and Scrutiny meeting.  The Planning Policy Team Leader said the policies covered the rural economic aspect and it was recognised that a proportion of growth would come through that route.

 

Councillor Cowen raised concerns about the communications of the consultation process and felt that Members should see it before it was released. The Chairman emphasised that no decisions had been made.

 

Councillor Cowen went on to say that the definition of Agricultural workers should be re-considered as it was now a highly skilled job and this needed to be looked at.  He also said that Settlement Boundaries defined the character of a village and therefore serious consideration was needed before they were reviewed.

 

Councillor Borrett said this was an enormous piece of work which would shape Breckland for the future.  Residents would have an interest in it and he hoped that everyone would engage in the consultation.  He was pleased to see some small scale developments in some villages and felt it responded to Parish Council needs in that they could be involved in the development of their villages.

 

Councillor Joel advised there were three areas of affordable housing but this needed to include starter homes.  He said it was very important for the rural areas to consult, and asked that Parish Councils received printed copies of the Local Plan as some would not have or be able to access it online.  The Chairman said he would expect to see this added in the Communications Plan.

 

Councillor Darby said the documents focussed on the development of the A11; however Members should not lose sight of developing in and around the A47.

 

Councillor Matthews was interested in building houses for the future, and said that she had learned of new homes being developed in Necton which had space to build a lift in the property.  She asked if it was down to the developers to do this, or could the Council make this a requirement.

 

Councillor Duigan asked for a glossary to be added to the Appendix 2 document.  He also asked if the numbers included those that had already been allocated.  The Planning Policy Team Leader said the allocation table included a residual number as well as the total number of commitments already made.

 

Councillor Claussen asked if the document would hold weight if applications should go to appeal.  The Chairman said that Members should be aware that the Council were required to develop a Local Plan by the end of 2016.

 

Councillor Jermy asked if the section on retail and Town Centres included proposals to support town centres and control out of town retail development.  It was confirmed that the policy introduced a lower threshold that the NPPF for an impact assessment requirement in relation to Thetford and was intended to support town centres.

 

Councillor Cowen felt the developers should seriously consider homes for life when marketing the development.  He suggested that developers should also ensure that houses included access to all utilities including broadband.  He was aware changes would be coming from Government regarding affordable housing and asked how the Local Plan would change to reflect this.  The Planning Policy Team Manager said the policy had been written in a way to allow hooks to reflect any changes that would come from National Policy, which was due April 2016.

 

The Chairman added that work was underway with developers to look at making access to Broadband standard within the properties.

 

Councillor Jolly was concerned to see additional development in areas where amenities were oversubscribed, and therefore no longer sustainable.  Education and Health were not a District function but she asked how Breckland could address the issue of oversubscribed services.  She was glad to see there was an influence on parking as this had become an issue within villages.

 

The Planning Policy Team Leader said it was a balancing act to manage expectations.  It was expected that infrastructure providers would input into the plan and he would report back to the Local Plan Working Group the outcome.  The Director of Planning & Business Manager added that as the Local Plan progressed an infrastructure delivery plan would seek to identify areas of infrastructure requirements and therefore would seek developer contributions in order to improve infrastructure development.

 

Councillor Cowen expressed concern particularly with health care services.  He said the surgery catchment areas were not the same as planning boundaries, and he felt this would create serious congestion at Doctors surgeries.  The Health Service was not a statutory consultee within the planning service, and he said more development would create serious pressure on the health services.  He was keen to encourage lobbying of MP’s that boundaries were changed to ensure that all residents gained access to primary services.

 

OPTIONS

1.    The Cabinet to approve the Local Plan Preferred Direction Development Plan documents and Sustainability Appraisals for six weeks’ public consultation;

 

2.    The Cabinet to approve the Local Plan Preferred Direction Development Plan documents and Sustainability Appraisals for six weeks’ public consultation in principle and to authorise the Strategic Planning Manager and Portfolio Holder to  make any necessary minor corrections, factual updates, formatting changes and other non-material changes that are identified prior to the publication of the Preferred Directions Changes consultation;

 

3.    The Cabinet do not approve to publish the Local Plan Preferred Direction Development Plan documents and Sustainability Appraisals for public consultation.

 

REASONS FOR RECOMMENDATION

The development of the single Local Plan is a complex, iterative and interrelated process which must also confirm to the legislative parameters.  The Preferred Directions document represents a suitable stage in which to progress the Local Plan through the scheduled regulation 18 consultation in line with the anticipated time line required in order to ensure the plan is adopted by the end of 2016.

 

RESOLVED that the Local Plan Preferred Direction Development Plan Documents and Sustainability Appraisals be approved for six weeks’ public consultation in principle and to authorise the Strategic Planning Manager and Portfolio Holder to make any necessary minor corrections, factual updates, formatting changes and other non-material changes that are identified prior to the publication of the Preferred Directions Changes consultation.

Supporting documents: