Agenda and minutes

Cabinet Planning and Parking Panel
Wednesday 29th January 2020 7.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Council Offices, The Campus, Welwyn Garden City, Herts, AL8 6AE

Contact: Gurdip Paddan 

Items
No. Item

52.

STATEMENT BY THE CHAIRMAN

Minutes:

“A point of clarity arising from the draft Minutes from the meeting on 23 January:-

 

Tonight’s meeting is the second meeting of the Cabinet Parking and Planning Panel considering the Local Plan proposed alterations.

 

The meetings on 23 January and tonight are two separate meetings, this is not a continuation of the previous meeting. 

 

Therefore, the draft Minutes which have been circulated will be changed to reflect the fact that this meeting is deciding on a recommendation to make to the Cabinet and the words “part of this” will be removed.

 

The final paragraph of the Minutes will read:-

 

“The Chairman thanked everyone for the debate and advised that the decision on a recommendation to the Cabinet would be taken at the second meeting on 29 January 2020. In the meantime, if anyone had any further questions or required additional information they should engage with Colin Haigh, Head of Planning.”

53.

SUBSTITUTIONS

To note any substitution of Panel Members in accordance with Council Procedure Rules.

Minutes:

The following substitutions of Panel Members had been made in accordance with Council Procedure Rules:-

 

Councillor M.Cowan for Councillor P.Zukowskyj

Councillor R.Lass for Councillor S.Boulton

Councillor S.Thusu for Councillor T.Kingsbury

 

54.

APOLOGIES

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors S.Boulton, T.Kingsbury and P.Zukowskyj.

 

55.

MINUTES

To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 23 January 2020 (previously circulated).

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 23 January 2020 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman, subject to the final paragraph reading:-

 

“The Chairman thanked everyone for the debate and advised that the decision on a recommendation to the Cabinet would be taken at the second meeting on 29 January 2020. In the meantime, if anyone had any further questions or required additional information they should engage with Colin Haigh, Head of Planning.”

56.

PUBLIC QUESTION TIME AND PETITIONS pdf icon PDF 235 KB

Up to thirty minutes will be made available for questions from members of the public on issues relating to the work of the Committee and to receive any petitions.

Minutes:

1.         Oliver King

 

“Can the Chairman clarify why they think that the proposed stepped housing trajectory will be acceptable to the Inspector, despite the fact that the Inspector has clearly advised that there is a requirement for 800 units per annum and that any shortfall in meeting the annual target between 2016 and when the plan is adopted needs to made up within the first five years of adoption of the plan? Is the Chairman concerned that this approach could further delay the adoption of the plan as a consequence of the inspector concluding that the Council’s targets and strategy are unrealistic and not effective and therefore unsound?”

 

Welwyn Hatfield response

 

An assumption that delivery could be significantly higher in early years of the plan period, is likely to be unrealistic. Targets will be lower in initial years as constraints on certain sites, such as the need for infrastructure delivery or land availability, will affect lead-in times.

 

A stepped target is consistent with National Planning Practice Guidance, which states: “A stepped housing requirement may be appropriate where there is to be a significant change in the level of housing requirement between emerging and previous policies and/or where strategic sites will have a phased delivery or are likely to be delivered later in the plan period”

 

As the stepped approach is consistent with national policy and the planned housing requirement would be met within the plan period, it is not considered that this should introduce any delay to the adoption of the plan.

 

2.         Tasneem Abdulla

 

“The village of Swanley Bar has been recommended for insetting, and Site SB1 is located to the immediate eastern edge.  There is good connectivity to public transport and amenities such as children’s play areas and the footpath network.  The promoter has identified a number of development scenarios which range in quantum but also their prominence.  The two smallest options (for 30 and 60 dwellings) are highly discrete and have no discernible ramifications for further coalescence or to change the open nature of the area as viewed from key gateways including the A1000.

 

The LUC analysis fails to accept that these smaller and more discrete scenarios would result in lesser Green Belt harm, which we think in this context is not realistic.  These more modest scenarios cannot be conduced to be nay higher than Moderate-High and should therefore be allocated as an Option 1 site.

 

The site’s release for either of these two scenarios would provide up to 60 dwellings and all of these can be completed in years 1-5.  This is a highly sustainable site which has good connectivity and the benefit of existing local services.  Can the Chairman agree that it would be sensible to allocate SB1 as a highly deliverable site, with the potential to provide strong boundaries which can be made permanent through the extension of footpath routes that can be offered up for adoption and be highly defensible?”

 

Welwyn Hatfield response

 

The small settlement of Swanley Bar has not been recommended  ...  view the full minutes text for item 56.

57.

OTHER MEMBERS SPEAKING

Minutes:

The following Members who were not Members of the Panel spoke at the meeting with the permission of the Chairman:-

 

(1)        Councillor S.Markiewicz.

 

Councillor S.Markiewicz spoke about the serious impact of proposals for Welham Green and Knebworth on the coalescence of villages, tight knot community cohesion and the traffic capacity of the B197.  Whilst appreciating that difficult decisions had to be made he said a plan was needed to avoid these decisions being imposed on the Council centrally without due consideration being given to these local issues.

 

(2)        Councillor D.Bell

 

Councillor D.Bell noted that some amendments had been made and understand that another option could be put forward at this meeting.  He said that housing need and infrastructure in the Borough had to be recognised and the Council should make a decision to avoid the threat of Government action.

58.

UPDATE FROM LAST MEETING AND PREFERRED STRATEGY pdf icon PDF 12 MB

Minutes:

The Head of Planning made a presentation to the Panel giving an update following the last meeting and information on the Preferred Strategy.

 

Local Plan

 

Submitted Plan for 12,000 homes

Inspector concerned it does not meet objective need

Objective Assessment of Need (OAN) is 16,000 homes 2016-2036

Green Belt Study Stage 3

Received 144 new and re-promoted to call-for-sites

Received 10,200+ representations to call-for-sites consultation

87% of comments were objections to sites

Site Selection process = HELAA sieving + Site Selection Background Paper

Sustainability Appraisal of various options

Preferred Strategy

 

Preferred Strategy

 

Virtually achieves OAN, good balance between housing and employment land, selects lowest harm green belt sites, does not select more sites than necessary

Delivers 15,952 homes

Selects 36 out of 144 promoted sites

Updated position on completions, commitments and windfalls

Maximises capacity on urban sites

Keeps all Submitted Local Plan sites + increases capacity on some sites

Allocation of some employment land for housing –achieves good balance

Releases some new sites from green belt

(but no new high harm sites)

 

Preferred Strategy

 

Completions 2016-2019

1,446

Commitments (planning permissions)

1,268

Windfall assumption

1,304

Existing allocations in Submitted Local Plan

8,027

+ additional capacity from permissions/applications

645

+ additional capacity from modifications

239

New sites

3,004

Small sites (not in windfall)

19

 

 

Total

15,592

 

Cabinet Planning and Parking Panel (CPPP) meeting on 23 January 2020

 

PB1 –investigate opportunities

Nor1 –investigate opportunities

Symondshyde + HAT1 impacts on Coopers Green Lane

Pea106 –protect employment

Select StL5 instead of StL13 at Lemsford

Keep Lemsford and Stanborough in green belt

Concern about extra housing at Panshanger

Concern about extra housing at Wheat Quarter

 

Option to: keep MODERATE, remove MODERATE-HIGH, remove HIGH sites

 

More climate change policies

Need to balance housing need ‘v’ green belt harm

16,000 could be irreparable harm

 

Inspector

 

Stage 6 hearing session round up:

 

“Unless there are sound planning reasons for not doing so, in the first instance, the totality of all of the dwellings assumed to be built during the plan period, on sites put forward in the adopted plan, must be capable of meeting, as a minimum, the full objective assessed housing need for at least the plan period”

 

This means:

 

The closer the selected target is to the OAN of 16,000 homes, the greater the likelihood that the plan will be found sound

 

Risks

 

Risk of judicial challenge

Removal of some sites may make it difficult to deliver new infrastructure

Risk that inspector suspends examination

Risk that inspector finds plan unsound

Risk that government could instruct another body to prepare plan

Lack of five year housing land supply

May struggle to resist proposals for brownfield sites and employment land

May start receiving speculative green belt planning applications

Risk of planning by appeal and appeal costs

 

Timetable

 

23 Jan, 29 Jan, 30 Jan

CPPP to debate > CPPP to decide > Cabinet

10 Feb –22 March

Public consultation

w/c 9 March

Hearing sessions –South BGS and Symondshyde

23 March –5 May

Local Election purdah

Officers to analyse representations  ...  view the full minutes text for item 58.

59.

CONSERVATIVE OPTION

59a

Planning Reasons pdf icon PDF 12 MB

Minutes:

Completions 2016-2019

1,446

 

Commitments (planning permissions)

1,268

 

Windfall assumption

1,304

 

 

 

 

Existing allocations in Submitted Local Plan

8,027

 

+ additional capacity from permissions/applications

645

 

+ additional capacity from modifications

239

8,211

-remove HIGH sites

550

 

-reduce Gosling and prepare masterplan

150

 

 

 

 

New sites

3,023

 

+ extra at Panshanger

90

 

-remove new MODERATE-HIGHsites

985

1,977

-remove village coalescence sites

181

 

-remove washed-over village sites

130

 

+ PB1

~160

 

 

 

 

Total 2016-2036

14,206

 

 

59b

Statement by Councillor R.Lass

Minutes:

Councillor R.Lass made the following statement:-

 

“I would like to introduce a proposal that has been devised by Conservative councillors in response to the officer report and last week’s debate.

 

We recognise the challenge of attempting to identify sufficient sites to meet the objectively assessed need for 16,000 homes to 2036.

 

We also recognise the scope to select a lower target where there are sound planning reasons that can be justified to the examination inspector.

 

We have also taken account of the significant local opposition to growth and its impact on the character of towns and villages, harm to the green belt and the capacity of our roads, schools and surgeries to cope with new residents.

 

We therefore put forward a proposal that seeks to avoid excessive harm to the green belt, reduces the risk of coalescence between villages and does not build in washed-over villages.

 

It achieves a total of about 14,206 homes over the plan period.

 

It is the substantial addition of 2,206 homes over the Submitted Plan.

 

I will now ask the Head of Planning to present the detail.”

59c

Statement by the Head of Planning

Minutes:

“The Submitted Plan has already selected what were considered at that time to be the most sustainable urban and green belt sites.  As a principle Conservative councillors think we should continue to favour those sites, unless there is valid new evidence that should change our judgement on those sites.

 

To their mind the Stage 3 Green Belt Study is valid new evidence, as it finds that a number of submitted sites are ‘high’ harm.  This is an unacceptable level of harm to the green belt and those sites should therefore be removed. 

 

This results in the removal of HS22 to the west of Brookmans Park, HS25 to the west of Little Heath and HS29 and HS30 to the south of Cuffley.

 

Conservative councillors are also worried about sites that are ‘moderate-high’ harm. 

 

They don’t think it is appropriate to remove any submitted sites that are ‘moderate-high’ harm, as this would result in too much change to the Submitted Plan.

 

This means that HS15 in Woolmer Green, three sites in Welwyn, Birchall Garden Suburb, HS2 to the south of Welwyn Garden City, HAT1, HAT15 Symondshyde, HS11 to the south of Hatfield, SDS7 at Marshmoor, HS24 in Little Heath and HS28 in Cuffley remain in the plan.

 

They do think it is right however not to select any new ‘moderate-high’ harm sites.  This has the consequence of removing homes from the new sites proposed by officers, including in Welwyn, Welham Green, Brookmans Park and Cuffley.

 

The two exceptions to this principle are WGC4a and HAT1.

 

In respect of WGC4a Panshanger, which is a ‘moderate-high’ harm site, they think it is right to observe the inspector’s thoughts that land to the north is not suitable for a new grass runway and should deliver as much housing as reasonably possible.  They favour a total of 815 homes across the whole north/south site (650 + 75 + 90).  The allocation should however emphasise the importance of lower densities and open space to the north.

 

In respect of HAT1 which is a ‘moderate’, ‘moderate-high’ and ‘high’ harm site, they regard the opportunity for a comprehensive development including new primary and secondary schools, shops, community facilities, open spaces and public transport improvements to outweigh the high level of harm to the green belt in the northern part.  They also note that the school playing fields would stay in the green belt and create separation from Stanborough. 

 

Conservative councillors are also very concerned about sites that cause coalescence between existing settlements, particularly between some of our characterful villages.

 

They recognise that some of these sites would be removed by virtue of not selecting any new ‘moderate-high’ harm sites, but also believe it is right to remove ‘moderate’ harm sites that cause coalescence. 

 

This results in the removal of WGr3 in Knebworth, WeG12 to the north of Welham Green and WeG6 to the south of Welham Green.

 

As a result of all of the above, there would be no need to select  ...  view the full minutes text for item 59c

60.

LIBERAL DEMOCRAT OPTION pdf icon PDF 12 MB

Minutes:

Lib Dem option

 

Completions 2016-2019

1,446

 

Commitments (planning permissions)

1,268

 

Windfall assumption

1,304

 

 

 

 

Existing allocations in Submitted Local Plan

8,027

 

+ additional capacity from permissions/applications

645

 

+ additional capacity from modifications

239

 

-remove Pea106

235

5,901

-remove Panshanger

75

 

-remove Birchall Garden Suburb

1,300

 

-remove Symondshyde

1,130

 

-reduce Gosling and prepare masterplan

150

 

-remove HAT11

120

 

 

 

 

New sites

3,023

2,750

-remove WeG6, WeG15, half of WeG10

273

 

 

 

Total 2016-2036

12,669

 

 

60a

Statement by the Head of Planning

Minutes:

“Liberal Democrat councillors are concerned about the impact of development on the green belt.  They believe there is a balance to be struck between meeting housing needs and protecting the green belt.

 

They propose to remove the extra 75 homes at WGC4 Panshanger, to protect the green belt and to retain the area as green corridor and open space for local residents.

 

They propose to remove WGC5 Birchall Garden Suburb, to protect the green belt and also because it is unsustainable and poorly connected to the town, leads to outward sprawl, narrows the gap between WGC and Hertford and there is likely to be costly contamination remediation.

 

They propose to remove HAT15 Symondshyde, to protect the green belt and also because it is unsustainable, impacts on the natural environment of the area and has cumulative effects on the road network.

 

They propose to remove HAT11 at South Way in Hatfield, to protect the green belt and because it would be very visually prominent, causes coalescence of Hatfield and Welham Green and results in a much weaker green belt boundary.

 

They consider that WeG3a, WeG15 and WeG10 in Welham Green have cumulative harm on the west side of the village and result in a disproportionate increase in the size of the village.  WeG6 also causes coalescence with Brookmans Park.  They propose that WeG10 should be reduced from 120 to 60 homes and a new primary school be provided on this site instead of WeG17.

 

They consider that Pea106 is an employment site with a viable business in operation and therefore not available to help meet housing need.  They are also concerned by the current planning application for 7 storeys on this site.  They also believe that a masterplan should be prepared for the Peartree area to make sense of the chessboard mix of employment land and housing schemes.

 

Councillors recognise that the Council has agreed a Sports Strategy which proposes that a masterplan be prepared for Gosling sports park in order to consider the future of sporting provision and the opportunity for new homes.  They therefore propose the capacity of this site be reduced from 250 to 100 homes, until the masterplan has been prepared and a more informed target has been identified.

 

They do not want to make any increased assumptions for the Wheat Quarter site at the moment, but recognise that it might be possible to select a higher target after the public consultation period if pre-application discussions identify an acceptable scheme.

 

They do not support any additional homes on PB1 to the east of Potters Bar.

 

All of the above results in a provisional target of 12,669 homes.

 

This is 669 higher than the Submitted Plan.”

61.

WINDFALL OPTIONS

Minutes:

Officers were asked to advise Members on possible additional sites and windfall options and presented the following possibilities

 

Wheat Quarter

 

PB1 ~200

 

Gosling ~150 assumption

 

Brownfield redevelopments in green belt

 

Planning White Paper

-  Development around railway stations

-  New permitted development rights

 

Increase windfall assumption

-  Historic 173 per year

-  Currently assume 100 per year

 

Increase density at Birchall and HAT1 by further 100 each

 

The Chairman reported that 700-900 extra homes could be looked at for the Wheatquarter through taller buildings, but no work had been done on this and proposals would have to go through the fill planning process.  It was however a sustainable town centre site.

62.

PANEL RECOMMENDATION

Minutes:

It was noted that the Conservative Option minus HAT 15 Symonshyde would deliver 13,076 homes.

 

It was noted that increasing the windfall assumption to historic rates would increase the number by 949.

 

It was moved by Councillor S.Thusu and seconded by Councillor R.Lass.

 

(5 voting FOR, 3 voting AGAINST and 3 ABSTENTIONS) (CARRIED)

 

That the Panel recommends to the Cabinet that the sites in the Conservative Option, minus HAT 15 Symonshyde and with 949 additional windfall assumption be published for consultation as sites to be added into the Local Plan

 

This amounts to a total of 14,025 homes.

 

This is with the caveat that Officers will double-check the final figures, but anticipate they will remain in the order of 14,010 – 14,040.

 

RESOLVED:

 

(1)       That the Panel notes the results of the technical evidence with regards to sites already in the Submitted Local Plan.

 

(2)       That the Panel notes the results of the technical evidence and public consultation with regards to new sites for potential inclusion in the Local Plan.

 

(3)       That the Panel considers the sustainability implications related to different strategic options, the Sustainability Appraisal Addendum and Habitats Regulatory Assessment.

 

(4)       That the Panel recommends to the Cabinet that the sites in the Conservative Option, minus HAT 15 Symonshyde and with 949 additional windfall assumption be published for consultation as sites to be added into the Local Plan and that recommendation (4) in the report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) be varied accordingly.

 

(5)      That the Panel gives delegated powers to the Head of Planning and Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) to produce the consultation material in consultation with the Executive Member for Planning, to reflect the decisions made by Members.