Councillor R Fuller, Deputy Leader and Executive Councillor for Housing, Planning and Economic Development to present a report seeking endorsement of the proposed decision-making procedure for modifications to the Huntingdonshire Local Plan to 2036 and the production and agreement of supplementary documents and evidence that may normally be required as part of the Local Plan examination process.
(The report will be considered by the Cabinet at their meeting on 21st June 2018 and their recommendations reported to the meeting).
Further to Item No. 45 of the meeting of the Council held on 13th December 2017 and in conjunction with a report by the Planning Service Manager (Policy, Implementation and Strategic Development) and PowerPoint presentation (copies of which are appended in the Minute Book), the Executive Councillor for Housing, Planning and Economic Development, Councillor R Fuller, presented to Members an update on the Local Plan process. Members were reminded that the Huntingdonshire Local Plan to 2036 had been submitted for independent examination to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on 29th March 2018.
The Council were acquainted with the process and dates of the examination in public commencing in July 2018 and advised that an Examiner had been appointed from the Planning Inspectorate to carry out the examination of the Local Plan to determine whether the Huntingdonshire Local Plan has been prepared in accordance with the relevant legal requirements and whether it meets the tests of ‘soundness’ contained in the National Planning Policy Framework. It was noted that full details of the process, various stages and correspondence submitted were also available on the Council’s website.
It has been proposed to allow the Examiner to recommend main modifications to the submitted Plan if necessary, to enable changes to be made to ensure that the Plan complies with procedural requirements and is sound. Thereby this would ensure that any issues of concern could be recommended as main modifications, after public consultation and in consultation with the relevant delegated officers and Members, to be approved to avoid commencement of the full process again.
Arising from a question by Councillor B S Chapman on the population figures used for St Neots and suggested failure that the former parishes of Eynesbury Hardwicke and St Neots Rural had been omitted from the calculation of the figures used for submission and 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 confirmed his confidence that the figures used for submission were accurate and had not been amended as there had not been any evidence to suggest otherwise.
In response to a question by Councillor Mrs S A Giles on whether the number of school children had been taken into account in any calculation of figures for St Neots, Councillor Fuller confirmed that the matter had not been relevant to the report being considered to authorise modifications to the Local Plan.
Councillor N Johnson further questioned the use of the electoral roll figures quoted earlier, whereby Councillor Fuller confirmed that electoral roll figures had not been used as part of the submission but had been based upon forecast population growth. The Corporate Director (Delivery) confirmed that the population figures had previously been agreed in the Local Plan submission that was approved by Council on 13th December 2017.
In conjunction with comments made at the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Panel (Performance and Growth) on 14th June 2018, Councillor S Wakeford referred to his concerns regarding consultation on main modifications, whereby Councillor Fuller confirmed that any proposed main modifications would be subject to further public consultation.
Councillor Fuller moved the recommendations which were duly seconded by the Executive Leader, Councillor G J Bull. Whereupon, the Council
(a) that the Head of Development be authorised to formally write to the Planning Inspector to invite him to recommend any main modifications necessary to the Plan in order for the Inspector to find it legally compliant and sound; and
(b) that the proposed decision-making procedure for main and additional modifications to the Huntingdonshire Local Plan to 2036 be endorsed as follows:
· That where changes would be of such significance as to substantially alter the meaning of a policy or allocation in the opinion of the Head of Development (with the benefit of legal advice as appropriate) proposed main modifications will be agreed by 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 Advisory Group. Significant changes would include, but are not limited to issues regarding objectively assessed housing need, the addition or removal of a site allocation etc. Such matters would generally also be subject to further public consultation.
· Delegated authority be given to the Head of Development, Corporate Director (Delivery), Planning Service Manager (Policy, Implementation and Strategic Development), Planning Policy Team Leader to undertake appropriate negotiations and make/agree any other proposed main modifications to the Huntingdonshire Local Plan to 2036 if it is appropriate and necessary to do so to facilitate efficient progress of the plan through the examination period. Such matters would generally also be subject to further public consultation.
· Delegated authority be given to the Head of Development, Corporate Director (Delivery), Planning Service Manager (Policy, Implementation & Strategic Development), Planning Policy Team Leader to undertake appropriate negotiations and make/agree any additional modifications to the Huntingdonshire Local Plan to 2036 if it is appropriate and necessary to do so to facilitate efficient progress of the plan through the examination period.
· That the Head of Development, Corporate Director (Delivery), Planning Service Manager (Policy, Implementation & Strategic Development), or Planning Policy Team Leader is authorised to prepare and submit reports, including proofs of evidence, technical papers, matter statements, statements of common ground, sustainability appraisals, a schedule of modifications and other such documents required in the presentation of the Local Plan through the examination process and to take such other steps as are conducive or incidental to the examination of the local plan.