This report seeks to pick up on Members views expressed on the hierarchy of settlements and options for addressing the shortfall in housing sites in the working draft Local Plan.
The Committee considered the Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management’s report that sought Members’ views on which sites should be added to tier 4 of the settlement hierarchy and which settlements beyond tier 4 should be considered as locations for growth following the Committee resolution on 8 February 2022 that the Committee wished to include more settlements within tier 4 of the hierarchy.
The Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management outlined the two options:
To consider the following four villages that previously were not considered suitable but were reasonably close to having comparatively greater level of services and facilities:
· Woodbury Salterton
To consider a further eight villages that were not considered previously as they had some missing key facilities as noted in the brackets:
· Raymond’s Hill (no primary school, no community hall);
· Offwell (no shop);
· Colaton Raleigh (no primary school);
· Clyst Hydon (no shop, no community hall);
· Clyst St George (no shop);
· Stockland (no shop, no bus service);
· Dalwood (no primary school, no bus service);
· Talaton (no primary school).
The Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management drew Members attention to an email received from the Clerk to Offwell Parish Council highlighting that the parish council did not support its inclusion within tier 4 of the settlement hierarchy.
Comments made by Non-Committee Members included:
· It was questioned about Exton’s inclusion in the settlement hierarchy due to its small size and the limited amount of development;
· Suggestion was made to create an additional tier 5 to include hamlets to allow a small amount of development in rural communities;
· The endorsed Colyton Neighbourhood Plan which covers Colyford and Colyton states that Colyford is in countryside. This was supported by residents who wanted strengthened green wedge policies between Colyford and Seaton;
· Several Members raised concerns about Neighbourhood Plans and it was suggested that details of the Neighbourhood Plans should be provided for the proposed villages to enable Members to have the full information to hand;
· It was suggested that simply totting up the number of facilities within a settlement was not a good measure as villages may not necessarily need a shop as people can do online shopping or have essentials delivered by a van. There is a need to look carefully at facilities to consider what would bring a community together; The Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management advised that the hierarchy was about the most suitable sustainable settlements to locate growth and reassured Members that all settlements would fundamentally have the opportunity to have rural exception sites or community led developments coming forward whether they were in the hierarchy or not
· Need to consider car travel and although Exmouth is considered a sustainable location it still has a lot of traffic coming from outside of Exmouth into the town centre. People will still opt to travel by car;
· Clarification was sought about why Awliscombe had not been included in the options. The Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management referred to paragraph 3.3 in the report and advised that although Awliscombe did have a level of services some services such as the sports pitch were located outside of the settlement and not in easy reach other than by car;
· Need to find a mechanism to allow a small amount of growth in villages. The Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management advised that the hierarchy of settlements put forward in the working draft Local Plan seeks to achieve this which is led by evidence and will be discussed through consultation.
· Reference was made to the list of villages in option 1 and a need to understand how these communities felt about growth. In response the Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management advised that there would be consultation on the draft plan and that the hierarchy need to follow the evidence and have a planning logic behind it;
· Parish Councils have not been contacted about where they want houses to go in their villages;
· Support was expressed for an additional tier 5 option to help villages that want a small amount of growth;
The following motion was proposed by Councillor Mike Howe and seconded by Councillor Olly Davey.
Recommend no extension to tier 4 of the settlement hierarchy above that proposed in the working draft Local Plan presented to Strategic Planning Committee on 8 February 2022 and not to expand tier 4 settlements by more than 10% above current numbers.
In response the Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management advised he was happy to take 10% as a rule of thumb but it could not become a policy as it would not be enforceable and there was no evidence behind the figure. He reassured Members that the principle of ensuring growth levels were appropriate for each settlement had already been applied and gave Feniton as an example where development had been moderated to a much smaller amount than could be accommodated there based on land availability.
In light of the Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management’s comments the Planning Barrister sought clarification from the proposer and seconder about the 10% figure and whether they wished to amend the motion to state ‘as a rule of thumb to not expand tier 4 settlements by more than 10% of current numbers’.
The proposer, Councillor Howe emphasised that as some villages were being swamped by development he preferred the motion should read:
The Committee acknowledges that for the purposes of preparing the Local Plan, modest growth represents no more than 10% unless exceptional circumstances or infrastructure comes alongside supported by evidence like the Neighbourhood Plan or with infrastructure attachments to it.
The seconder, Councillor Olly Davey supported the amended motion.
1. That no extension to tier 4 of the settlement hierarchy above that proposed in the working draft Local Plan presented to Strategic Planning Committee on 8 February 2022.
2. That the Committee acknowledges that for the purposes of preparing the Local Plan, modest growth represents no more than 10% unless exceptional circumstances or infrastructure comes alongside supported by evidence like the Neighbourhood Plan or with infrastructure attachments to it.
The recommendations were approved by a Senior Officer. The Senior Officer Decision Notice is listed above under Additional Documents.