The Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management presented the report which addressed the issues raised by Members at a previous meeting and addressed the need for resources for face to face engagement events during the plan consultation period.
The report highlighted the track changes summarising the main changes. The most significant changes were:
· Policy 2 – housing numbers have been recalculated to record preferred allocations and 2nd best allocation sites (previously just preferred sites were listed);
· Policy 8 – a preferred site is identified (shown on the Policies Map) for a new town on the western side of East Devon (alternative not preferred site options are also shown);
· Policy 21 – Honiton – Policy is amended to include two additional areas of land for allocation for housing development on the western side of Honiton (the officer intent was to have shown these as allocations but they were omitted from the 1 October draft);
· Feniton and Whimple – in line with conclusions reached at Strategic Planning Committee on 7 October text has been added to clarify that the plan does not suggest or allocate land to accommodate a strategic scale housing development at these two villages;
· New policies are inserted into the plan in respect of:
o Telecommunications development;
o Contaminated land;
o Pollution control’
o Aerodrome safeguarding areas;
o Vehicular access to sites and land; and
o Service yards.
Members noted that the sustainability appraisal was an ongoing piece of work and further evidence gathering would extend into 2023.
Members’ attention was drawn to section 6 of the report which detailed the resource implications for face to face engagement in the main towns between mid-afternoon to early evening. The Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management welcomed Members comments on how this could be facilitated and advised enquiries had already begun on venue availability. Members’ views were also sought on whether to include other areas including Feniton and Whimple following a request received from Feniton Parish Council for an event in their parish as a result of the scale of growth proposed.
The Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management referred to the recommendations noting that the third recommendation had excluded Cranbrook as it has its own Local Plan and would not be included in the new Local Plan.
Councillor Philip Skinner who spoke before the Committee went into debate addressed the Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management and sought clarification why Plymtree had not been included with Feniton and Whimple as he would like the village to have the same opportunities as other areas and how the face to face drop in session would be conducted and whether it would cover wards. In response it was advised that Feniton and Whimple had been included following a resolution by Members at the last meeting. Members did not resolve to include Plymtree.
Councillor Skinner left the room and did not take part in the debate or vote.
Points raised during discussion included:
· The detail in section 6 was welcomed. Clarity was sought on officers attending the drop-in sessions as a provisional booking had been made at the Ocean Centre in Exmouth free of charge on 15 November to enable a cross party group of councillors to attend a drop-in session. It would be a shame to cancel if officers were unable to contribute. In response the Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management advised although there was the intention to work together on this there was a need to distinguish between an official council event and an event organised by Members on a political basis. Officers need to attend official council events which Members are more than welcome to attend. Whether officers could attend other events legal advice would be sought;
· The Chair suggested to extend the consultation period to Friday 6 January 2023 to give Councillor Millar time to reschedule the Ocean event;
· It is important we get this consultation right as in the past consultations have not had a good response. This is a massive consultation and just doing it online is not good enough.
· Alternative venues need to be found outside towns as some people cannot travel – villages need to be considered;
· A need to consider mobile libraries;
· The policy on green wedges needs finalising as it is an important policy
Councillor Dan Ledger proposed recommendations 1 and 2 seconded by Councillor Paul Hayward with a further proposal that under recommendation 1 the Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management provided clarity on the minor changes
Further comments included:
· The tree policy on page 296 is not a tree policy;
· The green wedge policy needs finalising. Clarification sought on whether the draft Local Plan would be sent out incomplete. It was acknowledged that some areas were less developed than others and further work on the intented wording would be completed after public engagement. Final boundaries for the green wedges would need to be consulted on at a later date and brought to Members next year.
· There was no reference to the employment at West Hill. It was advised that public views would be obtained through the consultation stage.
· Agree with the Chair for the consultation period to be extended to 5 January.
· Why has Honi_01 still been included when it had been rejected twice by the town council – please can this be removed; It was advised Honi_01 was previously resolved by Members to be included in the draft Local Plan as a 2nd choice site;
· Clarification sought about whether there had been conversations to consider a different policy in relation to biodiversity net gain percentages in AONB’s.
1. Delegated authority be given to the Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management in consultation with the Chair of Strategic Planning Committee, to finalise the plan for consultation. To include making minor changes to correct possible factual or grammatical errors, ensure links to background reports are made and other minor amendments that do not materially change content;
2. That the draft Local Plan, as appended to this report and subject to final refinements, for public consultation be endorsed.
The Chair welcomed Members comments on the third recommendation.
· Having only one event in Clyst St Mary is not going to work. To have a coherent structure there needs to be one in Clyst St Mary, Farringdon, Woodbury, Exton, Clyst Honiton, Clyst St George and any other village missed to encompass every surrounding village. In response the Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management highlighted the resourcing issues with all the additional events and suggested to remain with Feniton, Whimple and Clyst St Mary and perhaps a special meeting for any village that would be affected by the volume of development
· There is a need to separate the towns from the villages;
· A suggestion was made to extend the consultation to the 8 January which was a Sunday night.
· A suggestion was made for town and parish council drop-in sessions;
· Will there be an opportunity to see CommonPlace before it goes live. The Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management was happy to arrange a zoom meeting for councillors to see it;
· We need a consultation for the new community;
Councillor Ingham proposed the third recommendation as written, seconded by Councillor Richard Lawrence with an additional proposal to read as follows:
“that the period for consultation responses would end on Sunday, 15 January 2023”
3. That Strategic Planning Committee does wish to proceed with proposals for face to face drop in consultation events in each of the main towns and further events in Feniton, Whimple and Clyst St Mary;
4. That the period for consultation responses be extended to end on Sunday, 15 January 2023 be agreed.