Agenda item

Local Plan - Consultation on Main Modifications to the Core Strategy

-           Strategic Director of Environment and Development Services to report.


Councillor Smith, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Development Services, introduced a report by the Strategic Director of Environment and Development Services, which sought authorisation to consult on modifications to the Core Strategy to accommodate the changes required by the Planning Inspector. These modifications were necessary to make the document sound and enable the Council to adopt the document following due process.


The Inspector's initial conclusions were received on 6th January, 2014 and the key recommended changes were required by the Inspector to make the Core Strategy sound – without these changes the Council could not adopt the document.  The changes were:-


·                Housing numbers - the housing requirement for the Plan period (2013-2028) should be increased from 14,370 to 17,133. The Inspector accepted the Council’s use of a local housing target set below the previous Regional Strategy figure. But he considered the Council should do more to make up the shortfall from under delivery in previous years.


·                Phasing of development sites – the Core Strategy should be reworded to remove reference to the phasing of sites (i.e. which development sites should come forward first). This was to bring the Core Strategy in line with the national planning policy framework that did not prioritise this aim.


·                Commitment to Co-operation - the Core Strategy should be modified to include a commitment to ongoing co-operation with relevant bodies and neighbouring authorities and to an early/immediate review of the Core Strategy. This reflected concerns around the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA). However, the Inspector favoured continuing with the examination of the Core Strategy and finalising his report as soon as possible so the Council could adopt the plan.


·                Bassingthorpe Farm - Bassingthorpe Farm should be included in the Core Strategy as a Strategic Allocation, allowing it to come forward ahead of other sites in the Sites and Policies document.


·                Affordable Housing - the Inspector endorsed the Council’s 25% target and supported the amendments suggested to the affordable housing policy during the examination, primarily concerning commuted sums. These were made to clarify and strengthen its application while exempting self-build from the requirements.


·                Waverley - the scale of development taking place at Waverley warranted its identification as a Principal Settlement in the Core Strategy settlement hierarchy, rather than as a Local Service Centre.


The Inspector asked the Council to draft the wording of these modifications for his consideration and approval, prior to undertaking consultation. Officers were currently working to prepare these for the Inspector.


The Council was required to consult on the Inspector’s Main Modifications on his behalf. Consultation would take place over a six week period. The timing would be dependent upon the Council receiving the final wording of the Main Modifications from the Inspector and also the preparation of the accompanying Sustainability Appraisal. It was envisaged that consultation would start at the end of February/early March, 2014.


Representations would be invited in relation to the Sustainability Appraisal and the ‘legal compliance’ and ‘soundness’ of the Main Modifications only. It would not be an opportunity to repeat or raise further points about the Core Strategy, or to seek further changes.


The Inspector had set out changes to the Core Strategy to make it sound. The most fundamental change was to increase the housing target. However, the Inspector had made no recommendations about how or where this should happen. It was for the Council to revisit the draft Sites and Policies document to determine how and where extra housing sites could be found once the Inspector’s final report had been received.


Public consultation on the next version of the Sites and Policies document was programmed for Summer, 2014. At this stage the public and all interested parties could comment on the latest draft that would incorporate the results of the Inspector’s changes to the Core Strategy.


Cabinet Members noted the content of the letter and the implications for the use of brownfield and greenfield sites.


Resolved:-  (1)  That the public consultation on Main Modifications to the Core Strategy be approved.


(2)  That the Council’s response to the Main Modifications consultation be endorsed prior to submission to the Inspector.

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