This report sets out a proposed work plan to produce a new draft local plan during 2021 and into 2022.
The Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management presented the report which provided a proposed work plan for the coming year. He updated Members on the local plan summarising that Officers were currently going through and analysing around 650 responses received from the issues and options consultation that ended on 15 March 2021 and advised a detailed report highlighting the key issues would be brought to the next meeting in April, with a view to bringing a draft local plan to Strategic Planning Committee at the end of the year for Members to scrutinize before the start of the consultation in the Spring next year.
Members’ views were sought on the draft timetable on page 14 of the report that summarised the proposed committee dates that Members would discuss and feedback on key papers.
The Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management outlined Section 4 of the report and encouraged Member discussion on the importance of establishing a local plan strategy at an early stage of plan making and drew Members attention to some key challenges detailed in Section 5 highlighting the importance of keeping to the work programme so that Members receive a draft local plan in December.
Comments made by Non-Committee Members included:
· Clarification sought on the membership of the external panel detailed on page 22. The Service Lead – Planning and Development Management advised the HELAA Panel was only an advisory panel made up of Members and professional advisors and developers to provide technical advice on viability and deliverability of development sites.
· Concerns raised about the lack of climate change evidence and the need to build more energy efficiency homes. Comment made about when was the Government going to stipulate that housing must be energy efficient.
· Comment made about the possibility of a reduction in demand for employment sites due to the impact of homeworking. The Service Lead – Planning Development Management concurred but highlighted it was difficult to look at the impacts due to the current lockdown rules and current uncertainties.
· Comment made whether this was an opportunity to revive town centres by having more office space in empty buildings with the opportunity of accommodation. The Service Lead – Planning and Development Management advised these questions were asked in the issues and options consultation which would be fed back to Members at the next meeting.
Comments made by Committee Members included:
· Strong concerns expressed about climate change and the need for it to be placed centrally within the planning system.
· The need to build houses that are by design well insulated, cheap to heat and dry and warm.
· The need to incorporate homeworking into the design planning.
· The need to keep people close to their communities.
· Clarification sought on the joint strategy work. The Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management advised that since all the relevant councils had formally agreed to do a non-statutory strategic plan for the Greater Exeter area this council had been working on a timetable for the production of the plan and looking at resourcing of external consultants to undertake a lot of the work. He advised a report would be brought to Strategic Planning Committee in June to seek Members views.
· Clarification sought on the Duty to Co-operate. The Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management commented that as well as having a duty to co-operate with our partner authorities there was also a duty to co-operate with Dorset, South Somerset, Natural England and the Environment Agency among others.
· Clarification sought on whether the Climate Action Officer, when in place, would have a role within the work plan. The Service Lead – Planning Development Management advised he was keen to work with the Climate Action Officer
· Clarification sought about the impact of the timescale if the Cranbrook Plan DPD was found to be unsound. The Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management advised he was confident it would be found sound but if not there were various scenarios that could be addressed and incorporated into the local plan.
· A suggestion was made to report to Full Council half yearly to endorse the progress. The Service Lead – Planning Development Management advised interim reports could be brought to Full Council if Members wished but highlighted this would result in additional work that could delay the progress across the year.
1. That the Committee endorse the proposed programme for committee consideration of local plan reports through 2021 and into 2022.
2. That the Committee agree to work towards an early draft local plan for committee consideration in December 2021