Agenda item

Response to Consultation on the Review of the East of England Plan to 2031 - Scenarios for Housing and Economic Growth (Agenda item 10)

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

Minutes:

The Principal Planning Policy Officer presented the report.

 

Members were asked to consider the latest consultation paper on the review of the East of England Plan to 2031.  The consultation process set out the implications behind each of the four growth scenarios for the District and the proposed response.

 

The need for a review had been highlighted by the Government and responded to the need to plan strategically over a period of 20 years.

 

Breckland Council had been an active participant in the preparation of the current East of England Plan.  However, since the adoption of the current Plan, the Council had developed a significant evidence base to underpin the policies in the Core Strategy and justify the delivery of its housing and employment figures as set out in the Regional Spatial Strategy.

 

It was noted that scenarios 1 to 3 proposed the same annual figure and represented an overall decrease in the Council’s dwelling completion rate whilst retaining a growth target of 12,830 over the period 2011 to 2031.  This compared to an existing target of 11,900 new homes to be allocated in the Core Strategy and a Plan total of 19,211 homes to 2026.

 

The Vice-Chairman pointed out a number of concerns with regard to economic and population growth and the existing housing need. 

 

The Principal Planning Policy Officer explained that the growth rates within the preferred scenario would still require significant infrastructure investment but by extending very similar growth levels over a longer period of time presented a greater opportunity to secure delivery and reduces pressure over the plan period.   He drew Members’ attention to paragraph 3.2.27 of the report and highlighted the fact that Breckland Council would like the review of East of England to respond to the demographic changes and the increasing requirement to meet housing need, particularly affordable housing.

 

The Chairman asked for the recommendation to be clarified.  Members were informed that Option 1 was to support ‘scenario 3’.

 

The Executive Member for the Planning, Health and Housing Portfolio asked what would happen to this particular document if there was a change of Government in 2010.  Members were informed that the East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) was trying to prepare the review to a very tight time scale.  It was pointed out that the EERA currently intended to submit the document to the Government for independent Examination in Public by no later than March 2010, thus resulting in extremely short deadlines for local authorities to respond and limited time for the Regional Planning Body to review and respond to comments made.  

 

The Executive Member for the Planning, Health and Housing Portfolio asked if Region had indicated any level of assistance.  He reminded Members that Thetford Enterprise Park would not have been delivered without Region’s intervention and Snetterton would not happen without the assistance from Region for the necessary energy supply.

 

The Chief Executive reported that Officers were currently in negotiations with the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) and the Homes & Communities Agency (HCA) and early indications were that these projects would be supported.

 

Options

 

1)           To endorse the contents the report (including support for growth scenario 3) as the Council’s formal response to the RSS review consultation.

 

2)           Object to the consultation document, and suggest an alternative option be submitted that utilised a more strict interpretation of the earlier presented GVA controlled housing figures (i.e. no net additional dwellings to 2031) that was previously endorsed by Cabinet in January 2009 and reflect these under consultation question number 1.

 

Reasons

 

Endorsing growth rates proposed at the consultation paper under ‘Scenario 3’ was considered to a reasonable option in providing for new housing growth in the District to 2031.  The additional quantum of housing proposed could be accommodated in the period up to 2031 and would provide some flexibility in the distribution of the additional housing through future reviews of the Core Strategy Development Plan Document.

 

However, the ability to accommodate this growth was dependant upon the resolution of key infrastructure constraints identified through the production of the Core Strategy, particularly in respect of energy, water supply and waste water treatment capacity.

 

RESOLVED that Option 1 of the report be endorsed and the contents of the report be submitted to the Regional Assembly as the Council’s formal response on the consultation of the review of the East of England Plan to 2031.

Supporting documents: