Agenda item

Local Development Framework - Thetford Area Action Plan - Issue and Options (Agenda item 9)

Report of the Executive Member for Planning (Ann Steward).

Minutes:

The Executive Member for the Business Transformation Portfolio explained that the Thetford Area Action Plan (TAAP) – Issues and Options was a consultation document not a decision document and it was up to Members to decide whether it went forward for a six week consultation period commencing 23rd June 2008.

 

The Principal Environmental Planning Officer advised that there would be further reports on site specifics later in the year.

 

The Principal Planning Officer (Thetford Growth Point) explained that the Issues and Options document was about setting the key issues and asking questions about options for Thetford.  The aforementioned site specifics document would be for the whole of Breckland but would exclude Thetford.  The preferred options stage for Thetford would be presented to Cabinet in January 2009 for a decision. 

 

Members were asked to note that a considerable number of organisations had contributed to the document, including full debate and comments from the Moving Thetford Forward Officer Group on 1st May 2008 and the Moving Thetford Forward Board on 15th May 2008.  The document had also been to the Policy Development and Review Panel 1 meeting on 3 June 2008 where it had been recommended to Cabinet without any further changes.

 

In addition to the consultation document as presented, a simpler leaflet version was also being prepared for distribution to every household in the town, which would set out the questions as contained in the main document.

 

The Overview and Scrutiny Commission Chairman observed that the plan did not include any mention of the railway in the town.  He felt that this was a great shame as one of Thetford’s big advantages was that it sat on a railway line.   The Opposition Leader supported these comments and felt that this would be a great opportunity to remedy this matter. Another Member pointed out that she was not aware that there was anything in place for railway station improvements.  In response to a suggestion about formulating a question in the leaflet around this issue, the Principal Planning Officer (Thetford Growth Point) advised that the Moving Thetford Forward Board had actual projects in mind for the train station and, in his opinion, there was not a question to ask as there were other mechanisms in place that he felt were much better than the TAAP document.  The Executive Member for the Housing and Economic Portfolio felt that it was unfortunate that the document did not reflect the Board that he sat on and he reassured the Cabinet that dialogue of these matters were being discussed.  The Overview and Scrutiny Commission Chairman was glad that there was support from other Groups but was disappointed that the railway was not mentioned in the TAAP document.  Members were informed that this document would look very different in January particularly when it turned to specifics.  The rail policy could be included at that stage.

 

On another matter, a Member emphasised the fact that Thetford Town Council was very keen to keep the town centre alive but had concerns about infrastructure particularly with regard to the amount of housing being constructed against the lack of school provision.   The Cabinet was reassured that all these issues were being acknowledged by the Moving Thetford Forward Board.

 

The options available were:

 

1)           approve the document and the preparation of a separate consultation leaflet, subject to final adjustments by the Growth Point Team, and issue for consultation in late June for six weeks;

 

2)           as option 1, but with the addition/deletion of sections or amendments to the text or questions;

 

3)           not approve the document, and ask for a revised version to be brought back to a future MTF Board meeting in due course.

 

The reasons for the recommendations were that it was important that the Thetford Area Action Plan progressed without delay.  It was felt that the document had been soundly produced and had met all necessary regulations and planning advice.  Any delay in publication could result in a lack of confidence in the process.

 

RESOLVED that

 

1)           the Thetford Area Action Plan Issues and Options consultation document be approved, subject to any final editing by the Growth Point Team;

 

2)           the preparation of a ‘slimmed down’ consultation leaflet be approved; and

 

3)           the publication of the Thetford Area Action Plan Issues and Options consultation document for a six week consultation period, commencing in week beginning 23 June and ending in the first week of August 2008, be approved.

Supporting documents: