Local Development Framework (Agenda Item 7)
To receive an update.
The Director of Planning & Business Manager gave the following update.
New District Wide Local Plan
The team were continuing to work on the initial issues and options paper for the Local Plan. At a meeting of the Local Plan Working Group (LPWG) on 3 December, the Employment Growth Study and a technical report on setting a localised housing target for Breckland were considered. Both of those studies would form an important part of the evidence base for the Local Plan and help shape the spatial strategy for the District. A visioning session for Members would be arranged for the New Year to feed into the Local Plan process.
Community Infrastructure Levy
The Draft Charging Schedule for the Community Infrastructure Levy was reported to Cabinet on 29 October. Cabinet decided to delay the consultation on the Draft Charging Schedule until after the CIL regulations were published in January to consider the likely impact they would have on CIL in Breckland.
Reports on the progress of any neighbourhood plans within the District would be provided to the LPWG. The Neighbourhood Plan covering Attleborough and Besthorpe Parishes was formally designated by Cabinet on 29th October. A request had just been received from Croxton Parish Council to designate a plan area for the parish (however more information had been requested from the Parish to enable the request to be progressed).
Duty to Cooperate
Although Breckland was the first Council in Norfolk to be producing a new style local plan elsewhere in the country Inspectors at Local Plan Inquiries were identifying difficulties that could halt Plans from proceeding to adoption if they failed to meet stringent requirements - to demonstrate how the Duty to Cooperate had informed the preparation of that Plan from it’s outset. Members would be advised on the implications and obligations arising from this new Duty set out in the Localism Act 2011. It was likely to influence planning policy responses to adjoining local Planning Authorities and statutory bodies etc as well as the preparation of the Breckland Local Plan itself.
Local Plans around the country were being failed almost routinely/daily by Inquiry Inspectors over the Duty to Cooperate. It would be interesting to see how that would be reconciled with the announcement in the Autumn Statement on a new obligation on Local Planning Authorities to have Local Plans in place.
Breckland was moving forward apace into Issues and Options and this is where the Duty to Cooperate obligation had to inform the process at a meaningful level – “from the outset”.
Doubtless that would be a matter to be tackled at the Visioning Session being organised for early in the New Year. The Team would be sending out an early invitation to Members to get a slot in diaries for the New Year.
Councillor Bambridge asked where the Council was with the five year land supply.
The Director of Planning & Business Manager advised that in the spring site visits would be carried out to see whether work had started or progressed. Some significant sites had been released to try to address the shortfall. Rapid progress was needed with the Local Plan to avoid the Council having to make ad-hoc decisions.
In response to a question from Councillor Lamb it was explained that it was becoming clear that the ‘duty to co-operate’ was not something that could be ‘bolted on’ at the end of the Plan process. It needed to be addressed from the outset by a meaningful dialogue with neighbouring authorities and there might be a need to set housing and infrastructure targets co-operatively with other districts. As Breckland was ‘ahead of the game’ a lot of effort would be needed to drive dialogue with neighbouring authorities.
Councillors Claussen referred to an item on the radio that morning which had said that planning boundaries might be ‘fuzzed out’. He thought it might mean that some authorities would try to allocate housing in neighbouring districts.
Councillor North asked if the Visioning session would be open to Town and Parish Councillors and the Director of Planning & Business Manager said that there would be subsequent opportunities to engage with others, but in the first instance it was intended to explore the issues with Breckland Councillors to understand the shape of the future in spatial plan terms.