To consider a presentation on progress relating to the Local Plan Update.
30 minutes is allocated for this item.
The Committee considered a report, Agenda pages 33 to 35, and a presentation which provided details of progress on the Local Plan Update. Appended to the report were the key lines of enquiry approved by the Chairman in advance of the meeting.
John Spurling, Growth and Delivery Manager, introduced the presentation which highlighted improvements in strategic development following the introduction of the Core Strategy in 2006. This had delivered the master planning of new developments (SDLs) and a significant increase in developer contributions per property from £5k to £28k. To date the Council had received £350m in S106 developer contributions and Community Infrastructure Levy.
John highlighted the community benefits arising from the Council’s approach such as new schools, neighbourhood centres and public open spaces. However, it was also apparent that developers had not built houses quickly enough and were now challenging the Council’s 5 Year Land Supply position at appeals. This pressure would continue to build until the updated Local Plan was in place. In order to address this issue the Council’s Executive would be considering a report at its meeting on 27 July 2017. The report would recommend the release of reserve sites to increase the current land supply position.
Councillor David Lee circulated a paper which set out progress relating to the Local Plan Update, viz:
· Issues and Options Consultation – completed;
· Call for sites to be included in the plan – completed but Wokingham BC sites can still be added;
· Desk top review of all submitted sites – ongoing;
· Master Planning on sites and review of housing numbers – September to October 2017;
· Preferred site options and draft policies consultation – Summer 2018;
· Submit updated Local Plan for Inspection - aiming for early 2019;
· Following Examination in Public and follow-up changes – plan goes live.
Members put questions to David Lee using key lines of enquiry set out in the report. These related to the implementation of the major steps in updating the Local Plan, the consultation process and the timescales involve. The following points were raised:
· What lessons have we learned from the development of the SDLs? David Lee commented that, with hindsight, it may have been better to ensure that big sites were allocated to a number of developers rather than just one. The Council was delivering significant improvements to local infrastructure but, as highlighted in the response to the public question earlier, it was not possible to build new roads in parts of the Borough. This meant that traffic congestion was becoming a major issue for local communities. One idea worth considering was the provision of circular buses which could take residents from new estates to town centres and transport hubs, thereby reducing the number of cars on our roads.
· Why were agreed planning conditions relaxed following decisions by the Planning Committee? David Lee stated that if conditions were agreed by the Committee they should be enforced. David suggested that Members notify him of any examples relating to the relaxation of conditions.
David Lee confirmed that he would be speaking to his counterparts in the other Berkshire unitaries in order to develop a joint approach to the Government about the actions of developers in relation to the 5 Year Land Supply.
1) David Lee and John Spurling be thanked for attending the meeting and answering Member questions;
2) progress relating to the Local Plan Update be noted;
3) Members contact David Lee with examples relating to the relaxation of Planning conditions.