Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) submitting the Local Plan which is currently undergoing public examination by an independent inspector for agreement of the way forward and timetable to progress the Plan.
Members considered the report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) on the Local Plan – next steps. The Welwyn Hatfield Local Plan has been submitted and is currently undergoing public examination by an Independent Inspector. The Inspector had indicated that the plan does not currently meet the objectively assessed need for housing.
In December 2018 this Panel agreed a new timetable for progressing the Local Plan which included a call-for-sites exercise to help identify possible new sites for housing development. The 66 entirely new sites and 77 re-promoted sites that were submitted far exceeded expectations, which means that it is not possible to conclude the intended consultation stage before purdah starts on 26 March 2019. This will result in a short delay to the agreed timetable, such that presentation of results and recommendations to Members could take place in September 2019 and examination hearing sessions could take place in December 2019.
The Council had received a letter from the Inspector asking the Council to consider a quicker timetable than the one originally submitted to him. This report therefore set out options on how the Panel could proceed.
The report also identified recent revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the consequential need to prepare a housing delivery action plan.
The following points were raised and discussed:
· A comment was made in respect of the number of dwelling per annum as stated within the Local Plan approximately – 600 per annum. The Officer explained the methodology as per the Governments Standard Housing Methodology and it was noted that 870 dwelling would be required unless there is an adopted Local Plan.
· A Member asked why the call for sites list was not available to the public and why was there a delay? Officers explained that this was due to the purdah period. A further question was put forward regarding purdah period, as this period had not commenced. It was clarified that such information would be available after the election.
· The two options available to the Panel were considered together with the potential risks to the Council. It was agreed that Option 1 would be best as Option 2 had risks attached as illustrated within the report. Further clarification was sought from Officers in respect of Option 2.
· Option 1 – as per the report stated: ‘The Panel can agree changes to the previously agreed timetable, to acknowledge that public consultation on new sites will now take place after the local elections in May and to accept that this will push back the presentation of results and recommendations until September 2019 and examination hearing sessions until December 2019. Officers will then write to the Inspector on this basis and seek to book his time for the examination hearing sessions. A detailed timetable to achieve this option is set out in the Appendix 3 attached to the report. It should be noted that there are a number of dependencies and unknowns which could result in slippage’.
· It was agreed that due to additional work required, there would need to be adequate staffing resource made available to the Planning Team to support delivery.
It was moved by Councillor H. Bromley, seconded by Councillor S. Glick and
(10 for and 1 against)
That the Panel agrees the way forward and timetable to progress the Local Plan, based on the options and considerations set out in the report.
That the Panel acknowledges the NPPF requirement to prepare a housing delivery action plan. This would be presented to a future Panel meeting for agreement.