Councillor R Fuller, Deputy Executive Leader and Executive Member for Housing and Planning to present Huntingdonshire’s Local Plan to 2036: Proposed Submission 2017.
(The report has been considered at a Meeting of the Cabinet held earlier in the evening. The recommendations of which will be reported verbally at the meeting).
A copy of the draft Plan has been circulated separately to all Members of the Council and is available on the District Council’s website.
(See Minute No. 43 for Members’ interests).
In conjunction with a report by the Planning Service Manager (Growth) and PowerPoint presentation (copies of which are appended in the Minute Book) Councillor R Fuller, Deputy Executive Leader and Executive Councillor for Housing and Planning addressed the Council on an update on the Local Plan process and timeline of the Local Plan preparation.
Members were appraised with details of the Member engagement process and workshops undertaken with Town and Parish Councils. Following the conclusion of the consultation on the draft Local Plan in August 2017 and further consultation on the ‘call for sites’ that sought submissions of additional sites for potential residential development, a series of amendments had been incorporated into the proposed submission.
Councillor Fuller drew Members attention to three main differences between the consultation draft and proposed submission draft of the Local Plan and explained that all had been considered by the cross party Development Plan Advisory Group. He explained that there had been a revision to the definition of built-up areas to allow for more organic development, changes to the Renewable Energy Police to accept wind energy development in principle and allowed the allocation of 12 additional sites providing an additional 898 dwellings.
In providing a summary of the proposed additional housing allocation sites, Councillor Fuller advised Members that he had been made aware of concerns expressed by ward councillors in relation to the proposed allocation in Bluntisham and explained that although the site had been allocated, this did not signify the intention to develop. He further explained that it was necessary for the Council to allocate a demonstrable five year land supply for the future to enable the Council to control and manage its development.
Councillor Fuller stressed the importance of proceeding to the Regulation 19 stage of the process, namely publication of the plan for representations to be made to enable the timeframe to be achieved for submission of the Local Plan to the Secretary of State on or before the 31st March 2018 before the revised framework for a standardised methodology for calculating Objectively Assessed Need is published and introduced. The impact of which on Huntingdonshire’s housing need would require the provision of an additional 5,000 homes by 2036.
In response to a question by Councillor B S Chapman on confidence in the population figures used in the Local Plan following his perceived differences in population in the spatial planning areas as calculated by Cambridgeshire Insight compared with the figures contained in the Local Plan, Councillor Fuller reassured Councillor Chapman that he was confident that the figures had been correct and suggested that if he had had concerns this should have been raised at the Regulation 18 consultation stage.
In thanking Councillor Fuller for his clear and concise appraisal of the Local Plan, Councillor P D Reeve indicated his parties’ intention to vote against the Local Plan decision and referred to the additional 12 sites and although no automatic right of planning permission, he outlined his concern that it would be virtually impossible to oppose any building in these allocated areas. He further outlined his concern in the proposed changes to accept wind energy development in light of the Government’s commitment to wind energy development and questioned how the Council had challenged this policy, whereby Councillor Fuller explained the importance on the 31st March 2018 deadline and the numerous opportunities that had existed for comments to be made on the various versions of the Local Plan. Arising from the Regulation 18 consultation an amendment had been made to the renewable energy policy following objections from five Town/Parish Councils and Councillor Fuller advised Members that this was a clear example of how responses to consultation had influenced changes to the Local Plan. This proposal was supported by Councillor R L E Bucknell.
In response to a question by Councillor T Hayward on the weight of comments on the 247 additional housing allocation in Buckden, Councillor Fuller explained that a full consultation had been undertaken on these sites between October and November 2017 and any comments received had been included, however it was necessary to draw a line in consultations and amendments being made to another version of the plan to enable the deadline of 31st March 2018 to be achieved.
In commending Officers for their production of various iterations of the plan, Councillor Mrs S J Conboy questioned the authority for making minor amendments, whereby Councillor Fuller explained that authority would be delegated to make any typographical changes.
Arising from a question from Councillor J D Ablewhite on ensuring the infrastructure existed to support larger development sites, Councillor Fuller reassured Members that there would be a case to support infrastructure and concerns similarly supported by local communities.
Councillor J A Gray referred to the benefit for the locality in terms of prosperity in the local economy through the Cambridge effect with an increase in the volume of people wanting to live in the area. He further asked for confirmation that local communities would have more active involvement in any such wind energy development, whereby Councillor Fuller explained that the policy had been revised in response to community support but intimated that any proposals would be subject to a full and robust assessment in all areas if the District.
Councillor E R Butler spoke in his role as Chairman of the Development Policy Advisory Group that had been considering this plan for a number of years and particularly thanked Ms C Kerr, Mr J Campbell and other Officers involved with the development of the plan, as well as Members attendance and supported the proposed submission of the plan.
Councillor D B Dew, Chairman of Overview and Scrutiny Panel (Economy and Growth), referred to their meeting held the previous evening to consider the Local Plan and reiterated the comments on the Officers involved and Members at the Advisory Group and understood the concerns with achieving the deadline of 31st March 2018. He indicated the Panel’s support for the Plan to proceed to the Regulation 19 consultation stage.
Arising from questions form Councillor D A Giles on the requirement for the right type of housing, in particular homes for the elderly and ability to make changes to the plan, detailing specifics in St Neots, Councillor Fuller explained that the Council had recently adopted a revised Housing Strategy that would be addressing concerns raised by Councillor Giles and he further explained that there had been numerous opportunities through public consultations to outline concerns with any proposed sites.
In commenting upon the proposed delay to the A428 upgrading and surrounding infrastructure to support additional development, Councillor Mrs B E Boddington requested that pressure be placed on Highways England stressing the importance of such development. In response, Councillor Fuller explained that representations had already been made at all levels and the Executive Leader was in regular discussions with the Combined Authority on such matters.
Councillor Fuller updated Members on the comments from the Cabinet after their consideration of this item prior to the meeting of the Council and endorsed the proposed submission of the Local Plan.
In concluding, the Executive Leader, Councillor G J Bull, personally expressed his gratitude to the Officers involved in the process. In having been moved by Councillor Fuller and seconded by Councillor Bull, upon being put to a recorded vote in accordance with the Council Procedure Rules 14.4, as requested by Councillor Reeve, it was
(a) that the Proposed Submission (‘Proposed Submission 2017’) Local Plan as attached at Appendix 1, and the Policies Map at Appendix 2 , The Sustainability Appraisal and The Statement of Consultation for the purpose of publication for representations to be made for seven weeks commencing on or around the 18th December 2017 be approved;
(b) that the Managing Director and Executive Leader, in consultation with the Head of Development, Housing and Planning Portfolio Holder and the Chair of the Development Plans Policy Advisory Group, be authorised to make any presentational improvements or other inconsequential changes (e.g. correcting typographical errors or factual inaccuracies) to the ‘Proposed Submission 2017’ that (taken together) do not materially affect the policies set out in the Local Plan;
(c) that the subsequent submission of the Plan to the Secretary of State for the purpose of independent examination be approved.
For the Motion – Ablewhite, Alban, Baker, Bober, Boddington, Brown, Bucknell, Bull, Butler, Carter, Cawley, Conboy, Corley, Dew, Dickinson, Francis, Fuller, Gardener, George, Gray, Greenall, Hayward, Howe, Jordan, Kadewere, Mathews, Palmer, Swain, Tavener, Tysoe, Underwood, Wainwright and West.
Against the Motion – Chapman, Duffy, D Giles, S Giles, Reeve and Sanderson.
Abstentions – None.