- Strategic Director of Environment and Development Services to report.
Councillor Smith, Cabinet Member for Planning, Highways and Street Scene Services, introduced a report by the Strategic Director of Environment and Development Services, which asked that the Cabinet recommend that the Core Strategy to be referred to Council for formal adoption as part of Rotherham’s Local Plan. Following public examination, the Inspector’s report on the Core Strategy has found it to be “sound” subject to some limited changes.
After looking at the plan the Inspector at first said the target should be much higher. More evidence was presented at a further hearing and a strong case made for a lower, local housing target. The Inspector had now given his final verdict and agreed with the Council’s case. This was excellent news for Rotherham.
The Inspector has said that the Core Strategy was sound subject to some limited changes. He considers that we have fully met all the legal requirements and have complied with the duty to co-operate with other authorities and bodies, noting that there was “…ample evidence to demonstrate the Councils commitment to co-operation.”
The key changes set out in the Inspector’s report were: -
· Housing numbers – the Inspector’s initial view in January was that the housing target for the Plan period (2013-2028) should be increased to 17,133. This would have meant around 3,000 extra homes on Green Belt land. The Inspector had now been convinced by further evidence that the target should revert to our original figure. This was 850 new homes per year, plus shortfall in delivery against that target spread across the Plan period. This required the Core Strategy to plan for a total of 14,371 new homes. He had, however, recommended changes which committed the Council to produce an up-to-date Strategic Housing Market Assessment. This work had already been started and the Council were working closely with Sheffield City Council on the project.
· Phasing of development sites – the changes delete any phasing of sites (i.e. which development sites should come forward first). This brought the Core Strategy into line with the National Planning Policy Framework. However, although it was not an overriding factor, it still allowed the Council to take account of brownfield status when allocating sites for development.
· Bassingthorpe Farm – was confirmed as a Strategic Allocation in the Core Strategy, allowing it to come forward ahead of other sites in the Sites and Policies document. This would allow new homes to come forward quicker to tackle the housing shortage.
· Dinnington – the Council’s preference for a Broad Location for Growth to the east of Dinnington was supported.
· Affordable Housing – the 25% target was endorsed and some policy changes on commuted sums and viability were included. These clarified and strengthened the policy while exempting self-build developments from the requirements.
· Waverley – was classed as a Principal Settlement in the Core Strategy settlement hierarchy, rather than as a Local Service Centre. This reflected the scale of development taking place.
· Renewable and low carbon energy – the changes better aligned the Core Strategy with national policy and the move by Government to set future energy efficiency standards through national building regulations.
· Infrastructure – the changes amended the Core Strategy to set up a mechanism to ensure the monitoring and delivery of the strategy and the timely provision of the infrastructure on which it depended.
Cabinet Members wished to formally thank the Forward Planning staff in challenging the figures set down in the Inspector’s report and for their hard work in drawing this to a conclusion.
(1) Resolved:- That the Inspector’s report and his recommended main modifications be noted.
(2) Recommended:- (a) That the Core Strategy, as modified, be formally adopted as part of Rotherham’s Local Plan.
(b) That authority be delegated to the Planning Manager and Cabinet Member for Planning, Highways and Street Scene Services to make any minor changes (e.g. typing errors, formatting and images) necessary prior to publication of the adopted Core Strategy.