Agenda item

Planning Policy Committee - 8 June 2023

The Chair of the Planning Policy Committee, Councillor Lury, will present recommendations from the meeting of the Planning Policy Committee held on 8 June 2023.


The recommendations for the Council to consider are set out below:


·         Minute 40 [First Homes Local Allocation Policy]. The minutes along with the Officer’s report are attached.

·         Minute 41 [Middleton-on-Sea Application for Designation of a Neighbourhood Area] – the Officer’s report is attached.

·         Minute 43 [Arun Local Plan Update] – the Officer’s report is attached.


The Chair of the Planning Policy Committee, Councillor Lury, presented recommendations from the meeting of the Planning Policy Committee held on 8 June 2023.


            Councillor Lury alerted Members to the first set of recommendations at Minute 40 [First Homes Local Allocations Policy] which he formally proposed.  The recommendations were then seconded by Councillor Yeates.


            The Council


                        RESOLVED – That


(1)  The ‘Interim Affordable Housing Policy’ statement (to accommodate First Homes Policy) be adopted to include the local connections criteria, as set out under Paragraph 4.7;


(2)  Should the criteria be further update by the Housing and Wellbeing Committee on 20 June that delegated authority be given to Officers to amend the criteria in accordance with Paragraph 4.8; and


(3)  The amended Policy be uploaded to the Council’s website and reviewed annually.


            Councillor Lury then turned to the next recommendation at Minute 41 [Middleton-on-Sea Application for Designation of a Neighbourhood Area] which he formally proposed.  The recommendation was then seconded by Councillor Yeates.


            The Council




That the specified area is designated without modification, as the Middleton-on-Sea Neighbourhood Area, for the reasons set out in the application and in light of the results of the public consultation which did not receive any representations.


            Councillor Lury then alerted Members to the final set of recommendations at Minute 43 [Arun Local Plan Update] where he formally proposed all nine recommendations.  The recommendations were then seconded by Councillor Yeates.


            The first Councillor to speak was Councillor Stanley who confirmed that he wished to propose an amendment to Recommendation 9 to read as set out below [deletions have been shown using strikethrough with additions shown in bold]:


            “The Chair of the Planning Policy  Group Leaders write a joint letter to government about the current situation in Arun and the issues it was experiencing due to current planning policy to be co-signed by Group Leaders”.


            This amendment was seconded by Councillor Wallsgrove. 


            The Chair invited debate on the amendment. 


            This saw many mixed views being expressed. Those speaking against the amendment had concern that a letter from the Chair of the Committee would not deliver a consistent cross-party message in terms of the difficulties being experienced. It was felt that a letter containing co-signatures would undermine the original philosophy put forward by the Committee and that a clear cross-party message was needed. It was felt that a letter from all Group Leaders would set out a more powerful message to Government and would hopefully be more effective. Disappointment was expressed that Group Leaders had not been consulted on the amendment prior to the meeting.


            Those speaking in support of the amendment could not agree with the concerns being expressed by those opposing the amendment. This was because all Group Leaders would still be signing the letter confirming their support to the concerns being raised with the content of the letter being sent to all Group Leaders to approve. There would be thorough consultation on the content of the letter providing each Group Leader with the opportunity to add content or suggest amendments.  The important factor was that all wanted a positive outcome from this hoping that the Government would react to the issues being faced in the district.


            Councillor Wallsgrove as seconder to the amendment confirmed that the cross-party working that had been expressed by so many speaking on the amendment would still be in place. It was hoped that the strong message that the letter would convey would result in positive action. The residents of the district were continually concerned about planning permission being granted by appeal; that housing numbers would continue to rise and without adequate infrastructure. She urged Councillors to support the amendment and work together so that concerns of residents could be confirmed with the Government hopefully accepting that the housing numbers did not work for the district.


            Councillor Stanley, as the proposer of the amendment, confirmed that the amendment was suggesting that the chair of the relevant committee, which was the person that the council had nominated to chair the Planning Policy Committee, would compose the letter which would then be co-signed by Group Leaders who would all have the opportunity to provide feedback on the content of the letter.


            Voting on the amendment then took place and it was declared CARRIED.


            The Chair then returned to the substantive recommendations and invited debate.


            Many Members firstly spoke against the recommendations, these were Members who had voted against the recommendations at the Planning Policy Committee.  This was because there were many other Councils who had suspended progressing their local plans because Central Government was changing the process as specified in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) with the outcome of these changes not being expected until September 2023. It was therefore their view that voting for the recommendations now was premature, as the Council needed to know what the commitment would be under the knew processes in place to produce a Local Plans.


            The problems encountered in producing the existing Local Plan were  highlighted and concern raised that similar problems in having to repeat consultation on housing numbers could happen again if the decision was made now to commence a review of the Local Plan. Another area of concern was the 6,500 unimplemented strategic planning permissions in the district. This meant that the required infrastructure to support such development had not been delivered and this issue remained to be solved.


            It was stated that if Members chose to vote for the recommendations, they would be voting for up to 11,250 extra houses. In addition to this, it would  also mean a nibbling away of the district’s strategic gaps, the strategic gaps between settlements would be eroded. The vision objectives here had failed to get through the previous council and were now becoming back with almost no debate and there were concerns that needed to be addressed.  Examples provided were the commitment to 15 minute cities and 20 minute neighbourhoods which many residents were worried about. Similarly, there were references about towns and the rural economy but no mention of rural villages; no mention of sewage dispersion or protecting greenfield areas. 


            Those speaking support of the recommendations referred to the fact that the council had failed to demonstrate a 5 year land supply since 2019 meaning that developers were securing permissions through appeals. Councillors also needed to listen to the expert advice provided by Officers who were recommending that a review of the Local Plan was required. Councillors therefore had the choice to continue to delay a review or do the responsible thing and take control through the local plan process. The work undertaken by villages in securing neighbourhood plans also needed to be taken into consideration. As the review of the local plan had been suspended, this meant that development was being approved on appeal and without the critical infrastructure being provided. A way to resolve this was to review the local plan so that it would work hand in hand with neighbourhood plans.


            Councillor Yeates, as seconder to the recommendations, outlined that the vision and objectives were high level aims containing green initiatives that were welcomed and since the Council had declared a climate emergency, this was now urgent. 


            Councillor Lury, as proposer of the recommendations, reminded Members that the voting on the recommendations at the Planning Policy Committee had been cross-party with the Committee voting to approve that the local plan be reviewed. He also reminded Members of the need for the Council to review the Local Plan as it did not have a housing land supply, making the Council extremely vulnerable if the decision was taken again not to proceed in reviewing the local plan. The existing Local Plan was over 5 years old and was no longer functioning. Clear Officer advice had been provided presenting the risks for the council if it chose not to review its local plan and so Councillor Lury urged Members to support the recommendations.


            A recorded vote had been requested for all nine recommendations.  Those voting for these recommendations were Councillors Ayling, Batley, Birch, Blanchard-Cooper, Brooks, Butcher, Goodheart, Hamilton, Harty, Haywood, Huntley, Jones, Lawrence, Long, Lury, May, McDougall, Nash, Needs, Northeast, O’Neill, Northeast, Oppler, Penycate, Stanley, Tandy, Wallsgrove, Walsh, Warr, Wiltshire, Woodman, Mrs Worne, Miss Worne, and Yeates (33). Those voting against were Councillors Bicknell, Mrs Bower, Bower, Cooper, Elkins, English, Greenway, Gunner, Kelly, Lloyd, Partridge, Patel, Pendleton, Purser, and Turner (15). Councillors Mrs Cooper and Edwards abstained from voting (2).


            The Council therefore





                        RESOLVED – That


(1)  The Council recommence the preparation of a Local Plan Update;


(2)   The Vision and Objectives (Appendix 1 and 2) be agreed in principle, subject to stakeholder engagement and public consultation as part of a ‘Direction of Travel’ document to be reported to this Committee in September, prior to commencing Regulation 18 Issues & Options in the spring 2024;


(3)   The Schedule of internal (Schedule A) and external (Schedule B) commissioned Projects (Appendix 3) be progressed to prepare the Local Plan update;


(4)   The costs of £234,347 for the current financial year 2023/24, as identified in this report, be absorbed within the existing revenue budget and any overspend be reported to Members as part of the budget monitoring reports;


(5)   The Statement of Works Contract be approved as a departure from Standing Orders;


(6)   The plan period for the update be 2023 to 2041 but subject to updated land supply data, the start date (and potentially end date) may be rolled forward as necessary;


(7)   The ‘Arun Housing Need Review’ study be material evidence for the Local Plan Update;


(8)   Officers update the Local Development Scheme at the next Planning Policy Committee meeting for subsequent adoption by Full Council; and


(9)   The Chair of Planning Policy writes a letter to government about the current situation in Arun and the issues it is experiencing due to current planning policy to be co-signed by Group Leaders.


Supporting documents: