Venue: Council Chamber, Blackdown House, Honiton
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The minutes of the Strategic Planning Committee held on 5 September 2023 were confirmed as a true record.
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There were no declarations of interests.
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To agree any items to be dealt with after the public (including the Press) have been excluded. Thereare no itemswhich officersrecommendshould be dealtwithin thisway.
There were no confidential or exempt items.
The report provides a summary of house building monitoring information to the year ending 31 March 2023.
The Committee considered the Assistant Director – Planning Strategy and Development Management’s report outlining the latest monitoring figures on housing completions, forecasts and projections of the district’s five-year housing land supply to year ending 31 March 2023.
Members noted that in summary from April 2022 to March 2023 there were 998 net new dwellings completed after taking into account 67 care home bedrooms compared to 1,039 completed from April 2021 to March 2022.
The main reasons that the council could only demonstrate a forecast of 4.28 years of deliverable supply were due to:
a) The Planning Inspectorate taking a stricter approach on clear deliverability on planning appeals;
b) The slow-down in build rates and sales due to the current challenging housing market conditions;
c) Loss of developers/builders due to administration.
The Assistant Director – Planning Strategy and Development Management advised that because of the significant shortfall in housing land supply. Members should be mindful of the implications for decision making as set out in paragraph 3.9 in the report.
Comments made by Non-Committee Members included:
· There is a need to look at how we calculate windfall sites. It was advised that the larger development sites were not taken into account.
· Clarification was sought about the high phosphate levels in the River Axe and if the levels were sorted and development could commence in the catchment area would this help achieve the five-year housing land supply. In response it was advised that there were only about 150 homes held up at the application stage purely because of by the phosphate level issue. A much larger numbers of applications had other issues to resolve which were on top of the phosphate levels. This is impacting on the housing land supply position but would not in itself make up the shortfall.
· Clarification was sought on the number of affordable homes completed and whether the council was delivering the required 25%. The Assistant Director – Planning Strategy and Development Management advised that a lot of the smaller sites fell below the required threshold to provide affordable housing and that a number of the larger sites were subject to viability issues which resulted in developers delivering less than the required proportion.
· It was suggested that the housing delivery test was flawed following a government report in March 2023 which appeared to penalise councils.
Comments made by Committee Members included:
· Clarification was sought about lapsed consented planning applications and whether landowners were reminded about these as these would help bolster the five-year land supply. There was not a process in place to send out reminders. Although it was acknowledged it was a contributing factor, it was not a major factor, and that more research was required to understand this further.
· Clarification was sought on the AONBs and the lack of a five-year housing land supply and how this would affect AONB areas if the town or parish council did not have a neighbourhood plan. The Assistant Director – Planning Strategy and Development Management referred to the ... view the full minutes text for item 30.
The report presented to the Committee sought endorsement of the methodology for defining Green Wedges in the new local plan prior to the consultation at the Regulation 18 stage of the draft local plan. This was following previous discussions where Members had highlighted issues where, in principle, Green Wedges should be designated between nearby settlements to avoid the risk of coalescence or loss of identity.
The Assistant Director – Planning Strategy and Development Management referred Members to paragraph 2.2.1 in Appendix 1 which identified the existing Green Wedges and highlighted that sites already identified as proposed development allocations in those areas would be excluded from the areas to be assessed. It was also highlighted that Green Wedges would also not be considered for the proposed new settlement as master planning would be required first.
The assessment methodology that was before Members outlined the various stages. It included the assessment criteria that would help to prevent the coalescence of settlements and to maintain a sense of place and identity for communities and proposed to assess potential Green Wedge locations against the criteria through strengths and evidence.
Many Members voiced their concerns on the content of the assessment methodology.
· Several Members suggested that Green Wedges should have been looked at before the development.
· Town and Parish Council views would need to be considered prior to the consultation stage.
· A concern was raised about the time frame and to avoid a public consultation over the Christmas period.
· It was not clear in paragraph 2.2.1 whether the sites identified as proposed development include both the first and second choice sites.
· It was questioned whether the criteria that defined the Green Wedges previously proposed was correct.
· There was no mention of assessing Green Wedges already mentioned in neighbourhood plans.
· A concern was raised about the evidence criteria that focussed heavily on the visual impact on landscapes when in reality the impact would need to focus on more than what can be seen.
· Clarification was sought on the receipt of a report on the new settlement.
· Concern was raised about whether there would be a Green Wedge between the new settlement and Farringdon.
· There was a need to update the interactive map to help visualise how things would change.
· Not happy with the proposed method as there was no indication of how to safeguard against encroachment.
· Disagreement with paragraph 2.2.1
· More work was needed, better plans, more detailed discussions and more Member involvement, not just officers.
· There was a need to protect all Grade 1 farmland.
· It was suggested that this would be looked at alongside wider needs for footpaths and cycleways linking settlements.
In response the Assistant Director – Planning Strategy and Development Management advised the Committee that Green Wedges are about preventing settlement coalescence and should not be confused with other countryside protections and landscape designations which fulfil different functions. It was also explained that while there was a need to look a green infrastructure and how sustainable travel between settlements can ... view the full minutes text for item 31.
The report provides feedback on the consultation that the Government are undertaking on proposed new style local plans.
The Assistant Director – Planning Strategy and Development Management presented a report updating the Committee on the feedback provided by East Devon District Council on its concerns and considerations to the consultation that the Government were undertaking on proposed new style local plans.
Members noted the following key issues:
Ø The importance of having a vision in the local plan.
Ø To set out measurable outcomes for the plan period.
Ø The creation of National Development Management Policies.
Ø The ability to have genuine local policies.
Ø To explore digital technologies which can be used in templates.
Ø To have a 30-month plan timeframe.
Ø Supplementary plans would be more geographically defined.
Ø Community land auctions – opportunity to capture more value out of land.
That the proposed response to the consultation as set out in the report be endorsed and submitted as the Council’s response to the consultation.