Contact: Alison Marston
To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 29 October 2020 (previously circulated).
The minutes of the meeting held on 29 October 2020 were deferred for approval at the next meeting of the Panel.
DECLARATION OF INTERESTS BY MEMBERS
To note declarations of Members’ disclosable pecuniary interests, non-disclosable pecuniary interests and non-pecuniary interests in respect of items on this Agenda.
Councillors S. Boulton and P. Zukowskyj declared a non-pecuniary interest in items on the agenda as appropriate by virtue of being Members of Hertfordshire County Council.
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.
Question from Mr. Howard Dawson
At the CPPP meetings on 23RD January and 29th January 2020, Members of this Panel made clear they required all sites of High Harm to the Green Belt and Symondshyde to be deleted from the Local Plan.
The Inspector made clear at the examination and in writing that sites which are High Harm to the Green Belt should not be allocated unless sites of lesser harm to the Green Belt have been allocated first. The allocation of Symondshyde should only be a last resort.
The position of the CPPP at its January 2020 meetings and the position of the Inspector is therefore consistent in stating that the allocation of Symondshyde and High Harm sites should be a last resort, or not at all.
The grounds for deleting Symondshyde and the High Harm sites from the Plan are justified by the fact that the Inspector himself required the Council to undertake the Stage 3 Green Belt Review in 2018 which was after the Plan had been submitted. This is new evidence which justified s the deletion of the High Harm sites and Symondshyde from the submitted Plan.
Given the above facts please would the Chair of CPPP please explain why the Council’s planning officers presented such a strong and robust case to the stage 7 and 8 Hearing Sessions to promote and support the allocation of Symondshyde and all High Harm sites, against the wishes expressed by Members in January 2020?
Response from the Chairman
At the beginning of the Stage 7 Hearing Sessions the Head of Planning gave a statement to the Hearing Sessions explaining the situation. The Proposed Submission Local Plan 2016 was agreed for submission by Full Council in 2017. In January 2020 Cabinet Planning and Parking Panel recommended to Cabinet that the Council should consult which included proposing their removal. This was agreed for consultation by Cabinet. In accordance with legislation it is Full Council which agrees the submission version of a Local Plan or any substantive changes. Full Council have not yet considered the results of the consultation on these proposals or decided on the approach to be taken with regards to sites in the Local Plan. Until such a decision is taken by Full Council, the Submitted Local Plan remains the Council’s policy and officers have a duty to defend its soundness at the Hearing Sessions.
Question from Mr. Peter Miller, Waterend Residents Group
This Local Plan is moving, like Titanic, towards the iceberg.
We currently have site HS22 allocated at Brookmans Park, which we now know from a report requested by the Inspector after the plan was submitted, to be High Harm and surrounded by Very High Harm Green Belt.
This site is now inexorably increasing in size, like the iceberg, potentially doubling in size.
Because the Inspector disallowed what he called ‘a beauty parade’, he refused to acknowledge or examine alternative sites.
Consequently, we now have the utterly bizarre situation of the largest and most harmful to the ... view the full minutes text for item 99.
Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) on the Local Plan objective assessment of need and final site selection. The purpose of this report is to consider the results of the public consultation, the content of the inspector’s interim report and other updated evidence in order to identify a precise figure for the objective assessment of housing need (OAN) over the plan period and to decide which sites should be proposed for inclusion in the Local Plan to meet the OAN.
Members received a presentation from the Head of Planning. This set out what the Local Plan has to do and the legal requirements. The submitted version included provision for 12,000 homes, but the Inspector is concerned this does not meet the Objectively Assessed Need (OAN). In January, members received a report from officers that would deliver just under 16,000 in accordance with the OAN at that time. This was debated and Members ultimately selected additional sites totalling 14,011 homes for public consultation. Tonight’s report takes account of this consultation, the Inspector’s interim report and additional site information.
The consultation received around 770 comments. These were well split between agreeing or disputing legal compliance and soundness. Site PB1 received the most (88) representations.
The report records that 2121 completions have taken place, with 961 commitments (not the 1141 shown in the report) and an estimate of 1402 windfall. There are also some new assumptions on capacity on some sites.
The Inspector’s interim report says that the Council should align its housing and economic strategies. The Inspector’s OAN is 16,000 but he recognises that this may fall as a result of 2018-based household projections, though a substantially lower figure wouldn’t meet national policy. He proposes two possible courses of action; (i) to propose additional sites to try to meet the OAN; or (ii) withdraw the plan. A number of deadlines set out are contained in the report. If these are not met, he will determine that the Plan is unsound.
Recommendation 1: Determination of Objectively Assessed Need (OAN)
Members need to identify an appropriate precise figure including annual rate for the period 2016-2036. Usually this is one definitive figure but the ONS has published multiple projections. Best practice guidance does not specify how this should be addressed. The Head of Planning set out a number of projections and consequent figures:
i) Turley Associates Five Year Alternative Projection: 715 homes/year = 14,300
ii) ONS 10 Year Projection: 690 homes/year = 13,800
iii) ONS 2 year principal projection: 507 homes/year = 10,140
The current standard methodology = 875 homes/year. The proposed standard methodology (still in draft format and subject to consultation) = 667 homes/year
Recommendation 2: Selection of Sites
Members consider whether to change the proposed 14,011 homes selected for consultation in January based on consultation responses, the Inspector’s interim report and new site information. This new figure of 13,277 homes does not include sites proposed for removal and assumes 2,000 at the Wheat Quarter and 250 at Biopark. It also removes 700 homes at Birchall Garden Suburb South and 160 at PB1 East of Potters Bar.
Whatever is decided at this meeting, the Head of Planning will write to the Inspector with an agreed OAN figure. Sites selected will be considered by Cabinet and then Full Council, and then those selected will be presented as a request to the Inspector as main modifications.
The Head of Planning set out a number of risks: Judicial challenge, the plan being declared unsound, ... view the full minutes text for item 100.