This report summarises the work that has been undertaken so far on a new community and sign posts Members to various reports and supporting information.
The Committee considered the Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management’s report signposting Members to the work undertaken so far on a new community and infrastructure provision which included the Garden Community and Delivery Vehicles initiatives and previous work done on GESP.
The Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management outlined the further work to be done highlighting that consultants had now been commissioned to help assess the options for a new community covering the following key areas which would progress alongside the work on the Local Plan:
· Transport infrastructure;
· Energy infrastructure;
· Green infrastructure;
· Community infrastructure;
· Basic services such as electricity and water and also drainage issues that had been raised by Members at previous meetings.
He sought a steer from Members about whether they supported in-principle a new community to form part of a spatial strategy for growth.
Comments raised by non-Committee Members included:
· There is a need to consider development in rural villages before considering a new community;
· Town and Parish Councils need to be contacted to understand our rural communities needs because there is a shortfall of affordable houses in our rural communities;
· The new community should work with surrounding villages and not just be a community on its own.
Comments raised by Committee Members included:
· A new community is critical to the emerging Local Plan to help our Climate Emergency Strategy;
· There is a need to revisit the hierarchy of settlements to put houses next to jobs to help reduce commuting in cars;
· Clarification sought on the proposed funding for the garden communities programme. The Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management advised that although the council had not yet received funding this year there was opportunity to receive it in a year’s time;
· An update was sought on the delivery vehicle initiative. In response the Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management advised that Members would need to confirm their preferred option first before an update can be provided as the delivery vehicle would need to be tailored to suit the new community option favoured by Members and referred Members to initial work hyperlinked within the report which sets out the main options;
· An update was sought on a precise timetable of the consultants work and whether everything would be ready in time for the consultation stage. In response the Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management suggested circulating a full brief to Members if that was what Members wanted. He emphasised the work by the consultants would be developed alongside the Local Plan highlighting that not all the information would be obtained by the draft plan consultation stage but would be ready for consultation on the publication version of the plan.
· Concerns raised about how the new community would fit in with the hierarchy settlements. In response the Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management advised this would depend on the size and scale of the new community Members’ envisaged;
· It is important to get the correct infrastructure in place first and the need to learn from Cranbrook;
· Suggestion made to further consider Axminster and the East of Honiton proposal before considering a new community;
· Concerns raised about transport links. The new community would be reliant on roads as there would be no rail links;
· If a garden village consists of up to 4,000 dwellings would the new community be classified as a garden village? The Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management suggested there could be potential for a number of garden villages as opposed to one large new community;
· Will a town of 8,000 houses be necessary; to provide 900 houses a year is an unrealistic amount by Central Government. The Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management clarified that the new community would bring forward 2,500 homes within the period of the new Local Plan. The 8,000 homes was a suggestion of the total scale of the new community
· The district is running out of suitable sites so it makes sense to plan ahead;
· The delivery of the delivery vehicle is critical so we don’t end up with 3,000 houses with only one corner shop and no other infrastructure;
· Suggestion made to split the Local Plan and take out the new community in order to get it done properly;
· There is a need to concentrate on housing provision in current villages and towns.
The following amendment to Recommendation 2 was proposed by Councillor Mike Allen and seconded by Councillor Paul Arnott
That Strategic Planning Committee:
Agree to consider the inclusion of a new community as part of the spatial strategy within the working draft Local Plan subject to this being reviewed as further evidence comes forward.
Strategic Planning Committee noted:
The previous reports and debates that have taken place on the issue of a further new community, infrastructure requirements and delivery vehicles;
Of agreement to consider the inclusion of a new community as part of the spatial strategy within the working draft Local Plan subject to this being reviewed as further evidence comes forward.