Agenda item

Breckland Local Plan Pre-Submission Publication Document (Agenda item 11)

Report of Councillor Gordon Bambridge, Executive Member for Growth.

 

Members are reminded that following the recent Cabinet and Overview & Scrutiny Commission meetings amended versions of appendices A and H are included on the agenda; all remaining documents were as previously distributed at the aforementioned meetings.

 

NB: Due to its size, Appendix A is attached as a supplementary agenda and will be available in electronic form only and will not be printed.

Minutes:

Councillor Bambridge, the Executive Member for Growth presented the report and echoed the comments made by the Leader under agenda item 5.  A great deal of work had been carried out by the Planning Policy Team over the last 8 years which had intensified during the past 18 months.

 

The Director of Planning & Building Control and the Strategic Planning Manager were in attendance. The report highlighted a number of changes since the last ‘Regulation 18’ consultation.

 

Alex Chrusciak, the Director of Planning & Building Control explained that the Local Plan presented within the report had been subject to significant consultation during its preparation and had been shaped by 29 meetings of the Local Plan Working Group which included meetings held at venues across the District. 

 

Members were taken through the key points of the report (see sections 1.5 to 1.32 of the report). A particular point that Members were asked to note was the increase in housing need equating to 14,900 to 15,300 new homes over the Plan period.  The Director of Planning & Building Control was confident that the Council could meet this requirement and explained the housing trajectory stepped approach methodology that was considered to be appropriate for Breckland having regard  to the urban extensions being planned.

 

The emerging Local Plan, if approved, would be published for a period of 6 weeks not as wide-ranging consultation document but as a pre-submission publication; in other words, a final check to establish whether the Plan was sound.  Paragraph 182 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) set out the tests of soundness and these were read aloud by the Director of Planning & Building Control (see paragraph 1.27 of the report).

 

Councillor Gilbert congratulated the Planning Policy Team for the immense amount of hard work and fully endorsed the stepped approach but asked how confident Officers were that this approach was deliverable.  Members were informed that sufficient allocations had been set as part of the Council’s trajectory but did not prevent earlier delivery.  Councillor Bambridge pointed out that the Council should be providing housing for people who lived in the District. 

 

Councillor Jermy echoed the comments made by all concerned and thanked the Chairman of the Overview & Scrutiny Commission and the Strategic Planning Manager for responding to the questions that he had previously sent; however, he wanted to know if the affordable housing data was up to date and whether it reflected the need.  He also wanted it confirmed that the numbers of affordable housing were being delivered and was reaching the target set.  The Director of Planning & Building Control highlighted the fact that this had been one of the key changes in the Local Plan due to the fact that in the current Core Strategy the 40% affordable housing figure had been unobtainable.  A viability test had been carried out and it had been found that a level of 20% was viable but the Plan had been set at 25%; more could be secured but a balance had to be reached as the Council did not want to stifle development.  Councillor Bambridge concurred with the above comments. 

 

Councillor Webb, as a Member of the Local Plan Working Group, re-iterated all that had been said and congratulated Councillor Bambridge for his chairmanship of those meetings as he had listened and, where justified changes had been made.  She conveyed her thanks to the Officers too. 

 

Councillor Borrett challenged Councillor Jermy’s aforementioned point in relation to affordable housing.  He explained that Breckland had lower unemployment and a growing economy and he did not deny that there was a demand but the Council had to have a deliverable percentage otherwise the five year housing land supply would not be met and the Local Plan would mean nothing and Breckland would up with less affordable homes.

 

Councillor Robert Richmond also thanked the Planning Policy Team - their hard work had been recognised; however, he had been asked to raise a question on the quality of design.  Councillor Bambridge advised that a supplementary planning document would be prepared to support the Design Policy that was already included in the Local Plan.  Such supplementary documents would be brought through the committee process and all would have an opportunity to input into it. The Director of Planning & Building Control advised that these documents added meat to the bones to policies GEN02 and COMM01 of the Local Plan.

 

Councillor Wilkinson felt that a 25% affordable housing target was reasonable but asked about housing for the elderly of which there was a great shortage.  Such housing was being promoted by the Local Government Association and therefore should be incorporated.  Councillor Bambridge explained that as a Council improvements to those areas were already being looked at but were not included in the Local Plan. 

 

Councillor Jermy responded to the comments made by Councillor Borrett and pointed out people on low wages could not afford rent, a mortgage or a deposit.

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1.    the Regulation 19 Pre-Submission Local Plan, Sustainability Appraisal and Habitats Regulations Assessment be endorsed for a six week publication period;

 

2.    following statutory public consultation, delegated powers be given to the Strategic Planning Manager in consultation with the Leader and Executive Member for Growth to submit the Local Plan, subject to any minor modifications, for examination provided that no substantive objections have been submitted;

 

3.    delegated authority be given to the Strategic Planning Manager in consultation with the Leader and Executive Member for Growth to make minor modifications and amendments to the draft Local Plan prior to commencement of the Statutory Public Consultation; and

 

4.      delegated authority be given to the Strategic Planning Manager in consultation with the Leader and Executive Member for Growth to agree amendments to the Local Plan arising during the Examination in Public.

Supporting documents: