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APPOINTMENT OF CHAIRMAN AND VICE-CHAIRMAN
The Special Cabinet at their meeting on 13 June 2016 appointed Councillors Stephen Boulton and Mandy Perkins as Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Panel respectively for the 2016/17 municipal year.
It was noted that the Cabinet had appointed Councillors S Boulton and M Perkins as Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Panel respectively for the 2016/17 Municipal Year.
To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 21 April 2016 (previously circulated).
The Minutes of the meeting held on 21 April 2016 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST BY MEMBERS
To note declarations of Members’ disclosable pecuniary interests, non-disclosable pecuniary interests and non-pecuniary interests in respect of items on the Agenda.
Councillor M Cowan declared an interest in items on the Agenda as appropriate by virtue of being a member of Hertfordshire County Council.
PUBLIC QUESTION TIME AND PETITIONS
Up to fifteen minutes will be made available for questions from members of the public on issues relating to the work of the Panel and to receive any petitions.
The Chairman reported that a petition had been received from residents of Marshmoor Crescent and Marshmoor Lane objecting to the proposed commercial and residential development of WeG4b.
The Chairman also reported that fourteen public questions had been received in accordance with Council Procedure Rule No. 31 and a number of others had been received after the deadline for submission. In accordance with Council Procedure Rules a period of fifteen minutes would be allowed and questions would be asked in the order notice was received of them. Any questions which could not be dealt with during public question time because of lack of time would be dealt with by a written answer.
1. Question to the Chairman Councillor Stephen Boulton from Mr. N. Bennett
Why is it that in the Officer’s assessment of Cuf5 (and Cuf12), there is no mention whatsoever of the unique opportunity for the Borough to provide a zero carbon development through its linkage to the nearby Anaerobic Digestion Plant (at Cattlegate Farm within the same ownership), since this is of fundamental importance under ‘sustainability considerations’ and has been promoted accordingly as part of our ‘exceptional circumstances’ case?
The Chairman read the following answer to the question:
The Housing and Employment Land Availability Assessment does reflect the fact that an opportunity exists to link development on Cuf5 to a nearby anaerobic digestion plant within the same ownership, connecting the two sites via an underground heat network to deliver renewable heat to all houses and non-domestic buildings on site to provide a ‘zero carbon’ development. Site Cuf12 is a smaller part of Cuf5.
The Sustainability Appraisal assesses all reasonable key sites being considered for inclusion in the Local Plan having regard to the location of development and the evidence available about the potential impact upon the environment. It does not include potential energy schemes, as this is a detailed matter which will need to be considered at the planning application stage, when specific proposals are put forward.
The Site Selection Background Paper does note that the Sustainability Appraisal assessed Cuf5 as having more than twice as many double positive scores than double negatives scores and is weighted as ‘moderate in favour’ in light of this. However, this is just one component of the overall balancing exercise when selecting sites.
2. Question to the Chairman Councillor Stephen Boulton from Mr. A. Buckle
I note that the Director reports in paragraph 7.3 that there is a risk of the Local Plan being found unsound if it does not meet the OAN, despite reporting further increases in population forecasts and a large shortfall in the provision of affordable housing. In light of this, wouldn't you agree that the Panel must consider including more robustly deliverable sites such as those mentioned in paragraph 3.47 and cannot rule Hat2 out at this stage based on incorrect information on the provisions of the S106, which, for the record, was specifically drafted to make provision to enable future development should it be consented?"
The Chairman read ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
Report of the Director (Governance) providing information that as part of the evidence for the Local Plan the Council needs to have an up to date assessment of the need for additional retail floorspace over the plan period. The Welwyn Hatfield Retail and Town Centre Needs Assessment Update has updated previous information on the market shares of the borough’s centres and carried out heath checks of those centres. It applies assessments of future spending trends to the borough’s centres to arrive at retail capacity forecasts for food and non-food shopping taking into account the growing influence of internet shopping. It also assesses likely commercial leisure requirements. As such, it is an important part of the evidence base to be used to inform the strategies and policies contained in the Local Plan.
The report of the Director (Governance) advised the Panel that as part of the evidence for the Local Plan the Council needed to have an up to date assessment of the need for additional retail floors pace over the Plan period.
Members noted that the Welwyn Hatfield Retail and Town Centre Needs Assessment updated previous information on the market shares of the borough’s centres and carried out health checks of those centres. It applied assessments of future spending trends to the borough’s centres to arrive at retail capacity forecasts for food and non-food shopping taking into account the growing influence of internet shopping. It also assessed likely commercial leisure requirements. As such it was an important part of the evidence to be used to inform the strategies and policies contained in the Local Plan.
Members having expressed some scepticism about the results of the retail capacity assessment set out in Table 1 in the report, clarification was sought of whether there would be any implications of setting figures higher or lower than those shown. Officers advised that much of the growth projected was accounted for by the Welwyn Garden City Town Centre North proposals and the trends were thought to be accurate for the next ten years. The danger of including capacity figures which were too high was that it might result in some new shopping provision being made in out of centre locations.
That the report be noted.
Report of the Director (Governance) bringing Members the results of the Housing and Employment Land Availability Assessment (HELAA), to consider any policy implications associated with sites which are considered to be technically ‘suitable’ coming forward and the cumulative impact associated with combinations of sites and to consider which sites should be included in the Local Plan.
The report of the Director (Governance) brought to the attention of Members the results of the Housing and Employment Land Availability Assessment (HELAA), and considered any policy implications associated with sites which were considered to be technically ‘suitable’ coming forward as well as the cumulative impact associated with combinations of sites and to consider which sites should be included in the Local Plan.
Appendix A (Employment Sites Selection – Background Paper 2016) and Appendix B (Housing Sites Selection - Background Paper 2016) to the report considered the results of the Green Belt Sites Review, the implications for defining a new Green Belt boundary, the conclusions of the HELAA, infrastructure issues, the sequential test, the extent to which the site would help to deliver strategic objectives, and the interim sustainability appraisal of the site.
The Panel then received a presentation from Colin Haigh (Head of Planning) and noted that the Council had a duty to prepare a Local Plan and to co-operate with adjoining authorities and other bodies. The Local Plan would cover the period 2013-2032 and would contain a strategic vision, strategic policies, site allocations and development management policies plus a Policies Map which would show allocations and designations. Once adopted, planning applications would have to be determined in accordance with Local Plan policies (unless material considerations indicate otherwise).
The Panel was informed that the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) expected Local Plans to deliver sustainable pattern of development and it stated that “Local Plans should meet objectively assessed need for development, unless any adverse impacts would significantly and demonstrably outweigh benefits, when assessed against policies in the Framework as a whole or specific policies indicate development should be restricted”. Consultation responses to Emerging Core Strategy (2012) favoured that growth be more fairly distributed to towns and villages around the Borough while consultation responses to Draft Local Plan (2015) had raised concerns about the impact of growth on green belt and infrastructure, and had warned against the risk of settlements merging and suggested the potential for a new settlement should be considered for inclusion in the Local Plan.
An assessment of the need for additional employment land and the potential for jobs growth had been made in the Economy Study which had been conducted by independent consultants. This assessment results in the need for an additional 5.4 hectares of Class B (office, general industry, warehousing) employment land over the plan period, as well as protection of all existing designated employment land. A Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) had also been conducted by independent consultants taking into account the results of the Economy Study and had concluded an Objective Assessment of Housing Need of 12,616 - 13,433 new homesover the plan period. It was considered that a target at the lower end of the OAN range would best meet the needs of the borough taking account of evidence and consultation responses but would represent a considerable increase in housing supply.
Table 4 in the report identified that completions, sites ... view the full minutes text for item 6.