Agenda item

Local Plan Update and Direction (Agenda item 11)

Councillor Paul Claussen, Deputy Leader & Executive Member for Planning.


The reports (revised) and the Minutes from the Local Plan Working Group meeting held on 14 May 2020 are attached.


Councillor Paul Claussen, the Executive Member for Planning presented this item.


The report and the appendix from the Local Plan Working Group (LPWG) meeting held on 14 May 2020 and the Minutes from that meeting had been attached to the agenda. 


The salient points from the report were highlighted and the recommendations from the LPWG were explained and proposed accordingly.


Councillor Hewett, the Executive Member for Contracts & Assets asked if Councillor Claussen would agree that although in some ways there was some frustration about the need for a review so soon after the adoption of the Local Plan in many ways this should be seen as an opportunity particularly bearing in mind the previous concerns/ conversations raised earlier in this meeting that everything had changed.  People were working in new ways, the Council’s finances needed to be re-considered and a new collaborative way of thinking was needed.  The environmental concerns, the challenges about transport everything would have an impact in terms of how the Council moved forward, and as such, the only way it could bring all these issues into one place had to be through a full review. 


Councillor Claussen agreed.  In addition, he felt that all these points need to form part of the recovery phase too including a review of the rural and urban economies.


Councillor Birt had been surprised that the meeting notes had not made any mention of the climate emergency.   He felt that such matters should be looked at in earnest and be fed into the LPWG. Also, he was aware that the Future Homes Standard was due to come out in less than 5 years and would require a dynamic change to house building.  He asked if the LPWG Members were aware of this change and how this might have an impact on the policies - bearing in mind that this Local Plan review should be completed at the same time as the release of the Future Homes Standard. 


Additionally, he asked Councillor Claussen how the selection of Members to the LPWG had come about and the skills that each of those Members brought to the Group.


Assurance was given that all Members had the relevant experience and knowledge to sit on the LPWG. 


Councillor Duigan commented that different designs standards for new dwellings would be required due to more people working from home and needing office space in future. 


Councillor Atterwill asked what the full review was going to cost against the cost of carrying out a partial review and what additional resources would be required.


In response, Councillor Claussen did not have the figures to hand but he reminded Members that Officers and the Executive Director had felt that a full review would be the most economical way forward. 


Councillor Morton mentioned the Government White Paper ‘Planning for the Future’ – that highlighted some changes to the system and raised concern that if Members approved the recommendation of a full review, which he supported in principle, how was the Council going to keep abreast of developments and requirements when, in fact, the guidelines could change.  He felt that it might be a better idea for the Council to support a partial review.


Members were informed that the advice from Senior Council Officers was that a full review would meet Members’ expectations; a partial review would not. 


In response to a previous question, Councillor Wilkinson commented that the LPWG Members had taken into consideration climate change.  The Government White Paper due out in September would now need to be revised due to Covid-19 and would dictate to a certain extent how all Council’s should move forward. He also commented that the cost between a full review and a partial review would be as the majority of work would be the same whichever type of review was undertaken.


Councillor Ian Martin raised a number of points concerning the timescales required for both a full and partial review he also suggested that both the INF03 and the five year requirement should be evidenced and a final point he wished to make was in respect of the ‘White Paper’ that came out in March, called ‘Planning for the Future’ that had been mentioned in the report and had been recorded in the Minutes that the Officers confirmed their view that even if the Council did not submit under INF03, the Council would still be deemed to be compliant with the requirements in ‘Planning for the Future’ and would have an up to date Local Plan in place in December 2023.  This he felt was an important reassurance that the Cabinet should be aware of. 


Following unanimous approval, it was




1)     a full Review of the Breckland Local Plan be undertaken by November 2024;


2)     the Local Development Scheme be adopted to take affect from 1 June 2020;


3)     delegated authority be given to the Executive Director (Place) following consultation with the Executive Member for Planning to make and approve any final changes to the wording and content of the Local Development Scheme; and to publish the Local Development Scheme on the Council’s website;


4)     delegated authority be given to the Executive Director (Place) following consultation with the Executive Member for Planning to approve any minor changes to the timelines of the production of documents in the Local Development Scheme as required by the process during the period 2020-2024; and


5)     a letter be sent to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government by the Leader of Breckland Council expressing concerns on the short time scales allowed for the review of the Local Plan exacerbated by the restrictions in place as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Supporting documents: