Decision Maker: Planning Policy Committee
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
(Councillor Jones left the meeting during this item.)
Upon the invitation of the Chair, the Planning Policy and Conservation Team Leader presented his report which updated Members on the issues affecting the progress of the Local Plan update and progression of the Vision and Objectives whilst also anticipating significant Government planning and regulatory reforms. He outlined a number of options Members might have wished to consider on the approach to take for the Local Plan update and supporting evidence work, in view of the pending national planning reforms and also emergent critical issues arising under the ‘Duty to Cooperate’ affecting plan making and particularly delivery of development to the west of Arun in the A27 corridor.
The options put before the Committee were:
1) Continue with Full Plan Preparation as per previous resolutions
2) Continue with Full Plan Preparation but with an Extended Timescale
3) Pause the preparation of a revised Local Plan until details of the new plan making system were agreed.
Members (and one non-Committee Member) then took part in a full debate on the item where a number of points were raised including:
· the recent change in the Secretary of State and indications made that he already wished to review and revise aspects of the bill, and the resultant delay this might cause
· knowledge of other local planning authorities who had suspended progress of their Local Plans because of the imminent changes in the White Paper, so precedent for option 3
· previous experiences with the development of Local Plans during periods when planning rules were changing and the added costs involved, and the possibility of spending on a Local Plan that would have to be reviewed as circumstances have changed
· a lot of time spent time doing the Vision and Objectives earlier in the year, disappointment and uncertainty over why they were abandoned, and how could the Council proceed with the Local Plan update if a basic vision could not be agreed upon
· the evidence base previously commissioned having been extremely useful and reluctant to waste the money spent on it
· support for option 1 and proceeding with the original plan due to concerns over the risks involved with waiting or the process becoming stop/start
· the efficacy between options 2 and 3, and whether there was any work that it would be safe to proceed with in an extended timescale
· the possibility of the removal of the 5-year housing supply and the objective assessed housing need figure derived from it, and so unnecessarily planning for housing numbers that may not be required
· concerns over deferral (option 3) and whether the situation should be reviewed by Committee on a regular basis to be more proactive due to the changing nature of policies
· the Local Plan being classed as failing by the Authority Monitoring Report, so other issues that needed to be address in addition to 5-year housing supply
· whether the Council exposed itself to risk from neighbouring Local Authorities due to delays in evidence updates, for example through ‘Duty to Cooperate’ agreements with no up-to-date data on what the District could or could not accommodate
· the significant quantity of planning approvals waiting to be implemented across the District and concerns developers were submitting speculative applications outside of strategic site allocations in the Local Plan at the same time
· support for a review of the White Paper as indicated by the new Secretary of State, though concerns over the number of what/ifs in a possible impending review
· support for options 1 and 2 as both kept the process moving forward, and for some of the studies indicated in the report that it would be useful to undertake regardless of the planning system eventually adopted
· clarification whether it was full plan preparation or an extension of five years to the existing plan that was sought, and if an extension of five years then the Local Plan would be out of date by the time of adoption which would be a waste of time and money
· the need to sort out the issues with the current Local Plan first to avoid these being carried over into a new Local Plan
· the additional housing a review of the existing Local Plan would add under the current planning system, suggestions this could be as much as 5,000-8,000 new homes over the 5 years the plan would have to be extended by
· the intention of Government to give Councils stronger powers to enforce ‘build out’
· the current ‘out-of-control’ position of having to accept planning applications wherever they may be, and even inviting them due to land supply issues
· whether Committee could make decisions based upon assumptions of what future planning rules may be, and whether it would be better to bring this report back in a few months times once more is known about how the Government is progressing with its plans
· statements and responses by the Secretary of State being material considerations in planning applications
· if option 3 were the preferred option of the Committee, the need to review the situation in six months times
· whether the possible lifting of the Local Land Supply would apply to the current Local Plan, and if this would be accompanied by the removing of the Housing Delivery Test which has also been problematic
· the need for the evidence base generated from the proposed list of studies in the report to deal with issues such as the climate emergency, and whether the option to pause could be explored down the line depending the outcome of the research
Councillor Hughes moved a motion that Option 3, that the Plan be paused, be put to the Committee as its preferred option due to knowing the planning reforms were going to change and therefore be unable to continue working towards AND that it be reviewed in six months time. This is seconded by Councillor Clayden. Following a vote of the Committee, the motion was declared CARRIED.
The Planning Policy and Conservation Team Leader provided Members with answers to all points raised during the debate and stressed the risks involved in each option, many already known and set out in the report, but that a direction of travel was needed by Officers from the Committee.
The substantive recommendations were then proposed and seconded.
That the Local Development Scheme and Statement of Community Involvement be reported back to the next Committee meeting.
RECOMMEND TO FULL COUNCIL
Option 3 to pause the preparation of a revised Local Plan until details of the new plan making system be agreed, and that the pause be reviewed in six months’ time.
Report author: Kevin Owen
Publication date: 12/10/2021
Date of decision: 06/10/2021
Decided at meeting: 06/10/2021 - Planning Policy Committee