Agenda and minutes

Venue: The Norfolk Room, Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Dereham

Contact: Committee Services  Tel 01362 656870

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 297 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 11 March 2008.


The minutes of the meeting held on 11 March 2008 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.




To receive apologies for absence.


Apologies for absence were received from Mrs. P. Spencer, Mr. A. Joel, Lady Fisher and Mr. M. Broughton.



Declaration of Interest

Members are asked at this stage to declare any interests that they may have in any of the following items on the agenda.  The Members' Code of Conduct requires that declarations include the nature of the interest and whether it is a personal or prejudicial interest.


The following declarations of personal interest were made:


  • Mr. M. Kiddle-Morris – in relation to agenda item 7 (LDF Site Specifics Process) by virtue of the fact that he had made representations on a piece of land at Litcham.


  • Mr. J.D. Rogers – As a member of the County Council Minerals and Waste Committee (Minute No. 15/08) and in relation to planning matters under the LDF process as Ward Member and landowner in Carbooke.

  • Mr. R. Childerhouse – Personal and prejudicial interest as a landowner in regard to LDF matters relating to Weeting.


The Solicitor and Standards Consultant was in attendance to answer any questions on the issue of declaration of interests in regard to the LDF site specifics policies and proposals, details of which had been circulated separately to Members.  The matters for discussion today related only to the process of the same general interest to members and therefore were unlikely to involve any specific interest.  No questions were raised.



Non-Members Wishing to Address the Meeting

To note the names of any non-members wishing to address the meeting.


The following Members were in attendance:


  • Councillor E. Gould
  • Mr. M. Kiddle-Morris
  • Mr. J.P. Labouchere
  • Mr. A.C. Stasiak
  • Mrs. A. Steward



Local Development Framework: Core Strategy and Development Control Policies: Preferred Options Consultation – Summary of Responses (Agenda Item 6) pdf icon PDF 112 KB

Report of the Strategic Director (Transformation).

Additional documents:


The Planning Policy Assistant presented the report and summarised details of the representations received in response to the public consultation on the Breckland Core Strategy and Development Control Policies Development Plan Document (DPD).


Responses were generally supportive of the Strategy and DPD, although the report highlighted specific concerns which had been raised by consultees.  These related to:


  • Spatial Strategy - The levels of planned new jobs for Attleborough and Thetford compared to the planned levels of new homes, and in regard to infrastructure capacity (particularly that for transport) in Attleborough.

  • Spatial Strategy - Local Service Centre (LSC) candidatures relating to Great Ellingham (where there was opposition to its selection as an LSC for growth) and Bawdeswell and Old Buckenham (both of which were being promoted for selection as LSC for growth); other concerns related to the evidence base and selection criterion used for LSC status.  (In the case of Old Buckenham, it was noted that the Parish Council supported its designation as category 2 for service delivery.)

  • Core Policies (paragraph 3.13) – as follows:


-    In regard to the housing calculations in Preferred Option CP1 around the allowance for 3000 rural windfall dwellings.  A number of consultees were concerned about the delivery assumption of these dwellings and that they were factored into district housing targets.  There was also concern at the lack of clarity in the formulation of numbers.

-    Concerning the deliverability of the sites identified in the Urban Capacity Study.  A number of consultees had highlighted the importance of replacing the Urban Capacity Study with a Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment to inform housing numbers.

-    A number of planning agents for the development industry highlighted that housing figures identified in Preferred Option CP1 should be minimums.

-    With regard to Preferred Option CP4 around the ratio of job figures in Attleborough compared with housing growth, together with some concern about the location of Snetterton as a centre for employment growth given its distance from population centres.

-    A number of consultees also highlighted the need for further evidence base, including a district wide Water Cycle Study.


  • Development Control Policies – in regard to:

-    The percentage (40%) of affordable housing in DC4, which was challenged by developers and planning agents, including a challenge by one consultee of the integrity and accuracy of Breckland’s Strategic Housing Market Assessment.

-    Concerns by planning agents and developers about the evidence supporting renewable energy provision on new developments, where it was felt that the 10% renewable energy target on developments was not viable.

-    A concern from some developers that it was unfair to expect developers to provide open space to a level which addresses past deficiencies.


From the summary of comments received from the statutory consultees, GO-East had highlighted the need for more specific information in Preferred Option CP4 on how infrastructure would be delivered, including details of a tariff based approach and the need to determine local targets for the provision of renewable energy on new developments.  In addition,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23.


Local Development Framework Site Specifics Process (Agenda Item 7) pdf icon PDF 109 KB

Report of the Strategic Director (Transformation).

Additional documents:


The Principal Planning Policy Officer presented the report, which updated Members on the anticipated programme for preparing the statutory Site Specifics Policies and Proposals Document (a Development Plan Document), together with more detailed consideration of the Issues and Options stage of that Plan preparation.


It was noted that the site allocations for Thetford would be dealt with under the Thetford Area Action Plan.


The report explained the background and purpose of the Site Specifics Policies and Proposals Document and to aid discussion, a topic paper “Definition of Settlement Boundaries” had been produced.


Preparatory work to date had involved (i) the development of an evidence base as a result of the work on the Core Strategy; (ii) making an official call for sites to all landowners/developers to reaffirm their interest in the LDF process (and to confirm their proposed site boundaries, proposed land uses and consent for their site to go into the public domain).  (The call for sites ended on 30 April); and (iii) the preparation of the Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report, which would present and analyse the baseline to inform the sustainability objectives and decision making criteria used to assess site specific policies and proposals.  This document was currently being consulted on.


The next stages in the process required the Council to:


  • Hold discussions at an early stage with developers, landowners and the community to identify and consider their site specific proposals;

  • Consult on these proposals and assess alternative options (using sustainability appraisal) to produce the preferred options document; and

  • Consult on the preferred options document and consider any alternative proposals submitted as representations.


The first two bullet points above represented the “Issues and Options” stage of the plan production process and this was the stage the Council had reached.  At this early point in the Options stage, the process was largely unregulated, giving the authority some flexibility on how it engaged with key stakeholders.  The later stage of preferred options would be more prescribed in terms of when, how and for how long the Council could consult and would involve considerable work around the Sustainability Appraisal, Appropriate Assessment and transport impacts.


It was explained that site allocation within the plan production process was a positive identification of land for development.  Settlement boundaries were essentially policy tools, setting out where development would or could take place and protecting the surrounding countryside from encroaching development.


Concerns over recent years had related to the form and character of development.


The Site Specifics Policies and Proposals had to take account of national policies and the Core Strategy.  Sustainable location was one of the key criteria and responses to date were not opposed to the proposed criteria.


The Issues and Options stage offered some flexibility to look at loosening or tightening settlement boundaries.  The official call for sites had identified 650 sites applied for to date (equating to some 3,000 hectares or 90,000 dwellings).  However, it was important that landowners’ expectations should be tempered and that parish communities should not be alarmed about  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24.


Thetford Area Action Plan Timetable (Agenda Item 8) pdf icon PDF 109 KB

Report of the Strategic Director (Transformation).


The Environmental Planning Manager presented the report, which updated Members on the anticipated programme for preparing the statutory Thetford Area Action Plan (a Development Plan Document), together with more detailed consideration of the Issues and Options stage of that Plan preparation.


This Plan was to run parallel to that of the Site Specifics Plan and the draft Issues and Options Document would be presented to the next meeting of the Panel for consideration.


In answer to a question, it was explained that the parish boundary concerns between Croxton and Brettenham and Thetford town was a separate issue to that of the town development under Thetford Growth Point.  The Thetford Area Action Plan was not seeking to change parish boundaries.


The proposed timetable was subject to no major issues arising or that the level of scrutiny required by the Council as set out in the timetable did not change.  Any such issues would require the timetable to be pushed back by approximately 10 weeks at each stage if it was considered appropriate to take the Issues and Options papers through a full Committee cycle.  


The period for public consultation of the Issues and Options was likely to be extended to six weeks from late June.


         RESOLVED that the report be noted.



Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment - Update (Agenda Item 9) pdf icon PDF 108 KB

Report of the Strategic Director (Transformation).

Additional documents:


The Senior Planning Policy Officer presented the report and explained that the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment was an essential piece of the evidence base for the Local Development Framework required by national guidance, set out in Planning Policy Statement 3: Housing. The purpose of the assessment was to identify sites with potential for housing, assess that potential and predict when those sites were likely to be developed. A key process requirement of the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment was involving the private sector. In recognition of this key requirement a project steering group was formed comprising Council Officers and key private sector stakeholders. The first meeting of the Steering Group was held at Elizabeth House on the 11 April 2008. In accordance with the proposals reported to the Panel on the 11 March the report updated Members on the structure of the Steering Group, its operation and the comments upon it, and recommendations for the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment that were made at the inception meeting.


In response to concerns of conflicts of interest of Steering Group members either as developers or as previous members of the Regional Planning panel, it was explained that individual sites would not be considered by the Steering Group but would be assessed by planning policy team officers and that Breckland would determine its Plan, not the Regional Planning panel.  However, it was important that both the Council and developers had a clear understanding of each other’s views.


A member questioned the reasoning for the inclusion of Flagship Housing Group on the Steering Group.  It was explained that this was at the suggestion of the strategic housing team.  A member suggested there might be a need for wider consultation as the matter progressed.


A member drew attention to the likely impact on land availability from rising agricultural prices.  This point was acknowledged and was a key reason for the revision of the viability assessment outlined in the report.


It was noted that it was intended to obtain independent surveyor advice on the revision of the viability assessment from within the Council’s existing resources.  If this was not possible, then it was agreed it could be difficult to find an independent surveyor externally who did not have any conflicts of interest in the timescale available.


         RESOLVED that the report be noted.



Regional Spatial Strategy Single Issue Review: Planning for Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation (Agenda Item 10) pdf icon PDF 101 KB

Report of the Strategic Director (Transformation).

Additional documents:


The Principal Planning Policy Officer presented the report on a proposed response to the consultation by the East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) on the issue of planning for gypsy and traveller accommodation in the East of England under the Single Issue Review of the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS).


The Single Issue Review followed an issues and options consultation in May 2007.  EERA was intending to submit the Review to the Secretary of State at the end of this consultation and invited comment on a draft regional policy to distribute the need for additional gypsy and traveller pitches across the 54 local authorities in the East of England.   It had been estimated that an additional 1,187 permanent gypsy and traveller pitches were needed between 2006 and 2011 in the East of England.  It was proposed that 15 pitches were provided in Breckland over the period 2006-11 and that beyond 2011 gypsy and traveller pitch provision was annually increased by 3% based on the overall planned provision at 2011.  Breckland Council’s Local Development Framework would need to be prepared in conformity with the Regional Spatial Strategy.  Comments were being sought on the proposed regional planning approach to gypsy and traveller provision by 16th May 2008.


The regional planning policy proposed allocating 15 permanent pitches in Breckland for the period 2006-11, which was an increase of two pitches above the local evidence indicating a need for 13 pitches, and did not, in itself, warrant an objection being made.


However, the Principal Planning Policy Officer explained that there was concern about the regional equalisation approach being taken by EERA.  The proposed approach for neighbouring authorities appeared to be markedly contrary to Government policy contained in Planning Circular 01/2006 which required provision to be made where there was a need.  It was proposed, therefore, to make an objection on that basis.


On the question of joint working, the proposed regional policy allowed for joint working between authorities on assessing and planning for Gypsy and Traveller needs.  Furthermore, the policy allowed for re-distribution of provision across joint areas.  There was no objection in principle to this proposed methodology.  However, if the regional distribution did not match need, then this could be compounded further through localised re-distribution.  This aspect of the policy reaffirmed the need to ensure that the proposed District distribution reflected the evidenced need. 


So far as the proposed annualised 3% increase for pitch provision from 2011-2026 was concerned, it was noted that there was only a firm forecast of need for gypsy and traveller pitch provision to 2011.  The justification for a 3% annual increase thereafter was based on national evidence that there was a 3% annual compound growth rate for Gypsy and Traveller households.  Additionally, not planning to meet the requirements for Gypsy and Travellers beyond 2011 ran the risk of under-provision.  There was a caveat in the proposed policy that local planning authorities could use evidence from up to date local Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessments (GTAAs) as  ...  view the full minutes text for item 27.


Work Programme (Agenda Item 11) pdf icon PDF 60 KB

A copy of the current work programme is attached.  Members of the Panel are invited to consider any additional items or topics for inclusion on the future work programme.


It was confirmed that the following items would be submitted to the next meeting:


  • LDF Site Specifics Issues and Options: Consultation Document
  • Thetford Area Action Plan Issues and Options: Consultation Document



Next Meeting (Agenda Item 12)

To note the arrangements for the next meeting on 3rd June 2008 at 10.00 a.m. in the Norfolk Room, Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Dereham.


Taking account of the items to be considered at the next meeting, it was likely that the meeting would extend into the afternoon and it was, therefore, agreed that a buffet lunch for members be provided.  It was also agreed that, if possible, the venue for the meeting be changed to the Anglia Room.