Proposal forms received:
1. The production of the Local Plan 2013-31 and Goodmores Farm
2. Playing Pitch Strategy
Members considered a proposal form submitted by Cllr Maddy Chapman on the production of the Local Plan 2013-31 and Goodmores Farm. Cllr Chapman introduced the proposal form and highlighted the following points:
· Issues and concerns with the development of the site had been ongoing for eight years
· There is a lack of community infrastructure on the site which comprises 16 affordable homes out of approximately 300 dwellings
· There was concern that trees and hedges are being removed from the site
Non-members of the Committee made the following points:
· It was noted that, under the Constitution, the Scrutiny Committee is not permitted to comment on planning site allocations, but that perhaps this should be reviewed
· The issue was with the public consultation process and this aspect should be scrutinised to learn lessons for the future
The Deputy Monitoring Officer confirmed that the Scrutiny Committee is precluded by law from scrutinising planning applications and queried the benefit of looking at the process for the Goodmores Farm application which had been upheld by the Planning Inspector previously.
The Service Lead for Planning advised that, in his view, the issue with the Goodmores Farm site was with the viability of the development and that this may explain why the site does not meet the ward members’ and community’s expectations in terms of infrastructure delivery. The process for ensuring that development is viable and deliverable is prescribed by planning legislation and policies in the Local Plan. It was noted that, with regard to learning lessons for the future, legislation has changed since the current Local Plan was adopted and now requires greater scrutiny of the viability and deliverability of developments at the point of allocation through the Local Plan process. If the Committee was minded to proceed with the proposal, careful scoping would be needed to ensure that the Committee remained within its legal remit.
In response to a question, the Service Lead for Planning advised that open book viability appraisals are already required and that Goodmores Farm would have been subject to this requirement under the current policy framework.
Cllr Chapman recommended to the Committee to scrutinise the different steps that were taken with regard to Goodmores Farm and the subsequent issues with this development in order to understand what had gone wrong.
Cllr Olly Davey proposed that the Committee requests the Service Lead for Planning to bring a report to the Strategic Planning Committee to consider the lessons to be learned from the Goodmores Farm development, with particular reference to the role of public consultation and historic site allocations.
The Deputy Monitoring Officer advised the Committee to consider requesting the Service Lead for Planning to bring a scoping report back to Scrutiny to ensure that any work undertaken was in line with the Committee’s requirements.
The Service Lead for Planning suggested that a report could scrutinise how the allocations within the Local Plan come to fruition through the planning process and how policies in the Local Plan are translated into the delivery of a development. Goodmores Farm, together with other allocations by way of examples, could be considered, rather than looking at one application in isolation. The report, to come to the Scrutiny Committee, would cover the process and how the outcomes envisaged in the Local Plan have or have not been delivered, and why.
Councillor Chapman proposed that the report as outlined above by the Service Lead for Planning be requested. This was seconded by Cllr Ranger and was agreed.
That the Service Lead for Planning brings a report to the Scrutiny Committee setting out how the allocations within the Local Plan come to fruition through the planning process and how policies in the Local Plan are translated into the delivery of a development. Site allocations would be considered by way of examples, including Goodmores Farm, rather than looking at one particular application in isolation. The report would cover the process and how the outcomes envisaged in the Local Plan have or have not been delivered, and why.
It was agreed to defer the proposal form on playing pitch strategy, submitted by Councillor Millar, to the next meeting.