LDF Work Programme 2008-09
Report of the Strategic Director (Transformation).
The Council were required to prepare a Local Development Scheme which set out the broad timetable for the production of the LDF documents. The latest plan had been signed off in December 2008 and was attached as an appendix to the report.
The Scheme did not include Committee dates or details of when input from the Group would be needed. During the next three years the Core Strategy, Site Specifics document and Area Action Plans would be adopted. A Supplementary Planning Document relating to developer contributions; looking at a tariff mechanism or infrastructure levy would also be developed. The report outlined a suggested timetable for the Group’s involvement in these processes.
Core Strategy and Development Control Policies document
This had been submitted and the Inspector’s report was expected in late October, early November 2009 and would be discussed by the Group in December.
Site Specifics document
Consultations had closed on this document and about 850 sites would be appraised. Further consultation was due in September / October, however, due to work commitments it was suggested that this deadline be moved back to October / November. The document would be considered by the Group to produce a final draft document. A series of meetings would be needed to ensure all areas received a fair appraisal.
A Member asked what criteria would be used to assess the sites and it was confirmed that the key criteria would be those contained in the Core Strategy. Officers would present these criteria for discussion.
Another Member was concerned that a fair hearing should be given to the views clearly expressed by Parish Councils.
Thetford Area Action Plan
Consultation on this would close on Friday 3 April. A final version would be presented to the Group in November 2009 before submission in February 2010 for examination.
If the Inspector did not approve the Core Strategy there might be a need to postpone consideration of the Action Plan until January / February 2010.
Various questions were asked about the infrastructure costs and the proposed developer contributions and whether they would be standard across the district.
The Principal Planning Policy Officer explained that national legislation had yet to be finalised on a district wide tariff. In the meantime different levels of development required different levels of infrastructure and to meet the funding gap a reasonable and proportionate development tariff was proposed. In the case of the Thetford Area Action Plan the suggested rate was in the range of £19,000 - £27,000 per property. This might need to be revised and was linked to land value.
The Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission was concerned at the different wording in the report for the Thetford and Attleborough Action Plans. He said that the outcomes of both depended upon the Inspector’s report and he felt this should be clearly stated.
He was also concerned that the infrastructure shortfall might make the Inspector say the plans were not deliverable; that there were other shortages in health care, education etc; that contributions were not generally triggered until development was complete; and that these things needed to be in place in advance.
The Principal Planning Policy Officer advised that the Inspector would look at the evidence provided and decide if there was a reasonable prospect of the plans materialising.
Work was being done to create an Infrastructure Group linked to the Local Strategic Partnership (LSP), based on a model being used in Huntingdonshire. This group would bring together key players from health, education, highways, etc. creating a funding pool to enable some infrastructure development in advance of growth.
The Development Services Manager sympathised with Members’ concerns but felt that things were slowly moving in the right direction. The LDF process was flagging up proposed growth, giving the utility companies notice of what was to come and time to plan ahead.
Attleborough and Snetterton Heath Area Action Plan
Due to the number of comments made about Attleborough in the Core Strategy document it would be difficult to finalise proposals for this plan in advance of the Inspector’s report. In the meantime more evidence would be collected. Water and energy studies would be carried out and discussions with key partners would continue. However, until clarity was provided on the direction of strategic growth it would be inappropriate to ‘steam ahead’.
Review of the Regional Spatial Strategy 2031
Representations had been made on the original plan and there would be an opportunity to do the same with the review. This would provide work for the Group in September 2009 and again in early 2010.
This report would come to the group in September 2009.
On a general point a Member asked if there had been any changes to the timetable since last September. There had been one change in that the Site Specifics public consultation had been due to commence in September 2009 and was now proposed for early 2010 to give more time to look in detail at the sites. Although the team were still working towards the original milestones it was felt that due to team changes and the potential resource implications of the Examination in Public, it was likely that these would not be met.
In response to a question the Chairman explained that if the Inspector suggested minor amendments to the Core Strategy the Cabinet Member and Chief Executive could deal with these under delegated authority. However, if bigger amendments were required they would have to go through the Group, the Overview and Scrutiny Commission, Cabinet and Council and there would be another six week consultation period.
The Development Services Manager mentioned that he had attended a meeting the previous day at North Norfolk where they had just had to deal with the rejection of one policy by the Inspector. They had said that it would cost them £100,000 to deal with the amendment.
RECOMMEND to Overview & Scrutiny Commission to note the report.