Agenda item

Draft Final Thetford Area Action Plan/Housing Topic Paper & Constraints Analysis/Commitments Paper(Agenda item 14)

Report of the Executive Member for the Planning, Health & Housing Portfolio (Paul Claussen).

Minutes:

Approval was sought to consult on the draft final Thetford Area Action Plan (TAAP) consultation document.  The draft final TAAP would contain land allocations and policies to guide the growth and regeneration of Thetford over the next 15-20 years.  The results from the final draft consultation would influence the content of the Submission Version of the TAAP.

 

The views and recommendations of both the Overview and Scrutiny Commission (6 December 2010) and the Moving Thetford Forward Board (15 December 2010) had been considered and had been taken into account as part of the overall consultation process.  It was intended to undertake an extensive programme of public engagement including a summary leaflet and comments form sent to every home, with all feedback fully documented, assessed and presented as part of the final document.

 

The Principal Planning Policy Officer and the Planning Policy Officer (Growth Point) presented the report which at this stage was a consultation document.

 

Further evidence had come forward with regard to energy and transport issues since the Preferred Options consultation in early 2009; therefore, further consultation was required.

 

Many useful comments from both the Overview & Scrutiny Commission and Moving Thetford Forward Board (MTF) had been taken on board.

 

Construction of the dwellings and infrastructure would be phased and each phase would be self supportive i.e. each stage would provide homes, employment land, education and other supporting infrastructure, including allotments.

 

To support the consultation and help the Council to understand the consequences of the TAAP, a draft Housing Topic Paper and draft Commitments Paper had been produced which provided further technical details to accompany the approach taken in the draft final TAAP.  It was recommended that the Cabinet considered the papers and that these be published for consultation alongside the draft final document.

 

The draft Housing Topic Paper analyses the results of the constraints to development analysis (attached at appendix B of the report) and the draft Commitments Paper highlighted the consequences of the TAAP and talked of further work required to aid the delivery (attached at appendix C of the report).  Comments would be sought on both.

 

Members were also being asked what form this consultation should take i.e. leaflet, on-line, open days etc.  The Planning Policy Team would be liaising with secondary schools in regard to how to engage their pupils and letters would be sent to statutory consultees.  The draft consultation process would now be for five weeks instead of four to take account of the school half term in February.  It would commence at the end of January and finish at 4pm on 4 March 2011.  It was emphasised that any responses received would be considered, comments would be logged with the Officers responses, and recommendations to MTF and the Council would eventually be placed on the Council’s website.

 

The Chairman felt that the key point to note was to listen to what local people had to say. 

 

A Member asked the type of leaflet that would be sent round.  In response the Planning Policy Officer (Growth Point) said that it was proposed to send a summary leaflet, similar to the one sent round in the Preferred Options consultation stage with a detachable comments form which included a freepost address.  There were no specific questions to be asked other than ‘what do you think of the plans?’ - ‘do you have any comments?’  Residents would also be able to email their comments to the Council.  The Member felt that that there should be just ten major questions formatted in certain a way so that responses were limited to ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answers.

 

The TAAP was a significant document not just for Thetford but for the whole of the district and the Overview & Scrutiny Commission Chairman felt that the people who should have the most interest in this consultation was the school children as they would be the ones who would have to live with the decisions that would be made.  Their views would be fundamentally important, and with something of this scale, it was very important that the Council engaged with children of school age.  The Development Services Manager was happy with the aforementioned comments. 

 

It was proposed and agreed that the Planning Policy Team should arrange for an open event to be held in Croxton.

 

Referring to land disposal on page 277 of the document, the Chairman asked if the allocation of allotment land could be added.  The Executive Member for Planning, Health & Housing pointed out that he had seen evidence that this had already been included in Pigeon’s proposals, farm land had already been allocated for allotments.

 

Option A

 

To consider the contents of the report and agree the document, draft Housing Topic Paper and draft Commitments paper, subject to any changes, for a consultation period of five weeks starting at the end of January 2011.

 

Option B

 

Not to agree the document for consultation.  This option represents a considerable risk to the Council as failure to make good progress with the Area Action Plan could result in the location of housing being determined through early applications for development without the appropriate contributions to the required strategic infrastructure for the town.

 

Reasons

 

The recommendation to endorse Option A of the report was to ensure that the Thetford Area Action Plan document was presented for public consultation in accordance with the Council’s adopted Local Development Scheme timetable.

 

RESOLVED that the content of the final draft Thetford Area Action Plan, draft Housing Topic Paper and draft Commitments Paper be approved for public consultation for a period of 5 weeks commencing 28 January until 4th March 2011.

Supporting documents: