A detailed presentation would be provided once the transport study had been completed. The background context to that study, the key emerging findings and conclusions were highlighted. MP stressed that the Study findings did not provide any indication of a locational advantage in transport terms as all traffic intersected at the Tavern Land junction. He concluded that it was possible for Members to consider the sites to be put forward for consultation. He acknowledged that this would be very important evidence base for the Local Plan.
Councillor Kate Millbank, Ward Member for Dereham and a Member of Dereham Town Council asked what the potential mitigation measures were for the Yaxham Road/Tavern Lane junction as this she felt was a major part of the problem in Dereham. Members were informed that there was a quick win solution in terms of improvement works to the existing highways junction but that a wider solution had also been identified. SW assured the meeting that there was a scheme being proposed but he was unable to provide additional detail as the scheme was currently being costed. MP pointed out that the study had been very helpful as County Highways had now acknowledged that the Tavern Lane junction was a problem which had been supported by evidence.
The Chairman of Whinburgh & Westfield Parish Council pointed out that there had been further development in that area since November when the study was first carried out SW had those businesses been encompassed. The roads and roundabouts were always backed up and there was a capacity problem and he asked how this would impact on any of the planning applications proposed in Dereham. MP advised that the Transport Consultants had taken these businesses into account. SW then explained that the Study would seek to highlight the solution in terms of development; the planning applications would not be determined until the outcome of the Transport Study was published. The Chairman of Whinburgh & Westfield Parish Council asked if any applications would be declined on the outcome of the Study. It was noted that there was a test that planning applications had to meet. Councillor Duigan presumed that Highways would have to finance any improvements to mitigate these problems. He asked if this Study concentrated on just the proposed Yaxham Road development. MP advised that the Transport Consultants had been fed the information on all the potential allocated sites. Councillor Duigan asked if the proposed development on Swanton Road had been taken into account. SW assured the meeting that all growth scenarios had been factored into the modelling. Councillor Sam Chapman-Allen wanted to know if the four sites that were coming forward had outline planning permission. SW stated that there were not any consents on any; all were pending. Councillor Sam Chapman-Allen suggested that a meeting should be had with Dereham Town Council and the Planning Officers to discuss all these problems that the town faced.
A Dereham resident was concerned that Officers had come to this meeting without all the necessary information on the Transport Study and felt that there was not any planning logic behind all this. Councillor Bambridge asked when the Study was likely to be completed. He felt that there was too much uncertainty to make an informed decision. SW advised that the report was being finalised and reminded Members that they were not deciding today if the sites were suitable for development; the plans going forward would be looking at mitigation schemes and as such preferred locations could be identified. Councillor Robert Richmond said that he had lived in this area since the 1960s and regularly attended the Town Council meetings and was told that this Transport Study would be ready to view; how could anything be agreed on these preferred sites without the necessary information. Mr Atterwill proposed that the decision on all the preferred sites be deferred until the Transport Study had been completed. He felt that the Council was working against a government dictated ruling and he urged Breckland to be bold and take a step a back and delay the Local Plan. He considered the deadline should be extended as there was not enough information on which to make a decision and not just for Dereham. Breckland needed a plan that was robust that allowed everyone the opportunity to put their concerns forward.
Mr Needham agreed with Mr Atterwill’s comments and he was pleased with the Highways acknowledgement that they had got it wrong. He asked if the Transport Study looked at the ‘knock on’ affect if the remedial action made the traffic flow quicker, the ‘knock on’ effect this might have on somewhere else in the town. PM said that it looked at all key junctions and therefore any ‘knock on’ effects. Mr Needham felt that the approach to these concerns should be that Transport Study be available to Members prior to the document being signed off in August. An additional meeting could be held.
Councillor Sam Chapman-Allen asked the Dereham Town Council representatives if there were any other sites that they would like the Working Group to consider; that they would prefer to come forward for the 750 dwellings.
Councillor Bambridge disagreed with Mr Atterwill, the deadline should not be extended as in his opinion, it was manageable and should not be extended just for Dereham. Councillor Duigan had not any problems with the former document but did now with the extra 750 dwellings and felt that a sensible decision could not be made.
The Chairman emphasised that these meetings had been set up as a steer to inform a document that would be subject to public consultation. He advised that there was a further round of consultation to be had on the whole Plan prior to submitting for inspection and if the same issues and concerns still existed after that then Breckland had a problem.
Councillor Claussen felt that the Transport Study was essential and should be available sooner rather than later. Councillor Millbank asked if immigration/migration had been taken into account.
SW also reminded everyone in attendance that this meeting was just to get a steer to shape a document and there was more work to be done once the sites had been identified.
The preferred sites and the alternative sites were then considered.
Councillor Linda Monument, a Ward Member for Dereham wanted to discuss sites 023 and 029 which were in her Ward. She reminded Members that on the plan issued in the winter of 2015, site 023 which had potential for 200+ dwellings had been classed as unreasonable for development and she wanted to know what had changed since then and why this land had been promoted since 2015. This whole site would have to be accessed over a level crossing and both sites filtered down to some dangerous crossroads taking into account two schools and the Kings Road access to the centre of town. If this site was to be developed there would be a greater number of people including children and probably fatalities. There had not been any consultation with Mid Norfolk Railway, the crossing itself was not very wide and was dangerous for pedestrians to cross and for cyclists; she was very worried and felt that there must be some jolly good provision in relation to safety issues.
Mr Needham concurred with the aforementioned views, this was a very narrow carriageway for people to use and the Highways Department should come out and look. He mentioned the soil types which were all of a higher grade than what had been suggested.
The Chairman asked if more sites could be consulted on. PM said that there was another map as part of the agenda pack showing all of the sites put forward. Mr Needham reminded Members that the Town Council had been identifying land for 150 properties not 750 and Officers had not provided any explanation for this increase.
A question was asked about the area coloured blue on the map. SW confirmed that this blue area was the former Maltings which was an existing allocation and there had been recent interest in the site.
Mr Atterwill suggested a link road being installed to take the traffic away from the town. Councillor Millbank agreed as this had also been suggested at the Dereham Town Council meetings. Councillor Duigan remembered that the last Local Plan included the reasons for the unreasonable sites and felt it would be quite useful to have the same context in this one.
Mrs Baker, a Toftwood resident representing the Resident’s Group was very worried about all the sites and asked what bright person had decided that the infrastructure should catch up with development. She indicated that this was like a number crunching game for the Government and Councils should not have to meet deadlines set by them .She was very surprised by the photographs as there were no cars in sight and wondered what time of day these had been taken, flooding was another big problem that should be taken into account. She wanted Dereham to be classed as a nice place to live for all our children and our children’s children.
Councillor Sam Chapman-Allen sympathised with all concerns but noted there was nationally a massive housing shortage that needed to be addressed. The infrastructure needed to be put in place for future generations and he wanted all views to go forward as every local authority had a figure that had to be met. He felt that if Breckland went back to the consultants again it would be like an ever evolving circle and no-one would get any further forward. None of the Local Plan Working Group Members sat on the Planning Committee; the Group was seeking a steer on which of the sites the public should consult on. Breckland Council had to work with the sites it had now and he asked everyone if the four preferred sites should be consulted on or to consult on them all.
In response to a question as to what happens if after consultation none of the preferred sites came back as suitable, PM advised that all sites had been consulted on in Jan/February 2016 following which some new sites were added. The preferred sites would go out for further consultation, it was suggested that all sites should go forward for consultation. Pm reminded the meeting that the next consultation needed to clearly show the Council’s preference s for the site allocations. If not, the consultation would simply repeat the exercise that took place in Jan/Feb 2016.
The Chairman of Mattishall Neighbourhood Plan Group emphasised the infrastructure issues which would have a knock on effect to neighbouring villages.
Councillor Duffield mentioned the sites that had pending planning permissions and felt that Members should be bold enough to say no.
Following all the comments and concerns mentioned above, the Chairman felt that further, wider consultation was required based on the Transport Study and based on what he had heard and he asked Officers what they would recommend in in order to keep this Local Plan on target. PM advised that he would not recommend wider consultation but instead to convene another Local Plan Working Group meeting before Cabinet and by then the Transport Study would be finalised.
SW explained that in terms of planning applications all would have to be considered on their own merits.
Councillor Mark Robinson shared everyone’s concerns and favoured an additional meeting to deal with the issues surrounding Dereham.
Councillor Bambridge reminded the meeting that all sites would have to go through the proper planning process. As far as the site specifics for the Local Plan were concerned, he was content for sites 001, 007, 017, 018, 023 and 029 to be considered bearing in mind that the hospital site and the maltings site should be put into the mix too – all sites were feasible but he felt that 003, 005 and 024 should be removed altogether. Councillor Millbank said that she would like site 010 to be added as a proposed preferred site for consideration.
PM said that these sites appeared to meet the draft housing requirement.
AGREED that the sites listed above be endorsed for further consultation.