This report provides the Committee with a progress update on the emergent infrastructure issues affecting plan making under the ‘Duty to Cooperate’, collated as a topic paper to be addressed as part of preparatory work to inform Arun’s Local Plan update, when this resumes.
Upon the invitation of the Chair, the Planning Policy Team Leader presented the report which provided a progress update on the emergent infrastructure issues affecting plan making under the ‘Duty to Cooperate’, to be addressed as part of the preparatory work to inform Arun’s Local Plan update, when this resumed. It was confirmed that the Housing Market Absorption Study was no longer part of this report and would not be brought to this meeting. He highlighted:
· the ongoing work involved in the Duty to Cooperate with Chichester District Council given Chichester’s changed approach and potential impacts to infrastructure and housing number requirements
· continuing talks with Southern Water about wastewater capacity
· establishing communication with Natural England and the Environment Agency about water and nutrient neutrality
· non-strategic development infrastructure, accumulative impact and its role in traffic mitigation
· for the Local Plan update, that the topic papers where appropriate become Statements of Common Ground, to set out clearly with our infrastructure partners and Local Authority neighbours, what we do and do not agree with and where any evidence gaps are, and these then can be used at examination to support the Plan in cases of dispute.
Members (and non-Committee Members invited to speak) then took part in a full debate on the item where a number of points were raised including:
· the ‘Duty to Cooperate’ not being in the Levelling Up bill but common sense to discuss these matters with our neighbours. The closed Oving crossing on the A27 was given as an example of the impacts on traffic and infrastructure across wider areas
· concerns over the actions of Southern Water on water neutrality in exporting water outside of the District, the ‘Duty to Cooperate’ being paramount and the need for assurances that Arun fully understands Southern Water’s forward capital programme and that it supports the Council’s endeavours
· the extended timescales of many third party providers and the challenges in delivering multi-party projects
· recognition of the current work involved with achieving water and nutrient neutrality and what still needed to be done (removing rainwater from the sewage system, technological improvements into new housing, water efficiency and the Water Cycle Study, nutrient neutrality in Pagham)
· the need to engage with Portsmouth Water seeking clarification and resolution of their self-confessed network capacity issues
· Pagham Harbour and the need for nutrient assessment in order to work towards achieving nutrient neutrality
· the difficulty of getting a meeting with Natural England regarding nutrient neutrality
· surface water penetration into the sewage system being an issue particularly for older properties and reducing the amount of older housing stock as a solution to this infringement
The Planning Policy Team Leader and Group Head of Planning provided Members with responses to all points raised during the debate, including:
· Officers having been engaged with Southern Water for the last year on their strategic 25-year drainage and wastewater management plan, of which a draft version would shortly be open to consultation. It was hoped that a consultation response could be reported to the next Committee meeting on 27 July 2022
· explanation that a Water Cycle Study would look at the building regulations needed to achieve the efficiency standard of 110 litres per person per day, and what consequences might follow any breaches to the Water Framework Directive on water quality and abstraction
· there were indications that Natural England had started work on Pagham Harbour in terms of trying to work out what gaps in information they had regarding the quality issues, but that due to the timescales involved the Council expected not to hear anything further until next year
· the securing of a meeting with Natural England was ongoing
The recommendations were then proposed by Councillor Bower and seconded by Councillor Hughes.
RESOLVED – To
1. Consider the progress made and outstanding matters in relation to the infrastructure topics;
2. Agree that officers continue to engage with providers on clarifying issues and to identify potential solutions via drafting Statements of Common Ground, which will support consultation responses to plan making authorities and infrastructure providers and help to identify the resources needed to ensure that necessary evidence (e.g., water neutrality) is procured to support Arun’s Local Plan update (when it resumes) under the ‘Duty to Cooperate’.