To seek the Committee’s agreement to the Council’s response to the Government’s consultation paper entitled ‘Planning for the right homes in the right places’.
The Committee had before it a report of the Head of Planning Services (A.3), which sought its agreement to the Council’s response to the Government’s consultation paper entitled ‘Planning for the right homes in the right places’.
It was reported that the Government had published draft proposals (attached as Appendix 1 to the above report) which had aimed at reforming the planning system in order to increase the supply of new homes and increase local authority capacity to manage growth. The proposals included:
· a standard method for calculating local authorities’ housing needs;
· how neighbourhood planning groups could have greater certainty on the level of housing need to plan for;
· a statement of common ground to improve how local authorities worked together to meet housing and other needs across boundaries;
· making the use of viability assessments simpler, quicker and more transparent; and
· increased planning application fees in those areas where local planning authorities were delivering the homes their communities need.
It was further reported that the Government had proposed to publish a revised version of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in 2018 to include some of the following proposals:
Standard method for calculating housing needs: The paper proposed a standard method for calculating housing needs to help save on costs and delays. For Tendring, it would mean a target of 749 new homes a year – a significant increase upon the figures included in the Local Plan.
Neighbourhood planning: The paper suggested that Local Plans should specify the amount of housing to be provided in different parts of the District to assist communities in knowing how much growth to put in their neighbourhood plans. It had also suggested a proportionate ‘percentage based’ formula for working out the best distribution between towns and villages in areas where the Local Plan was not up to date.
Statement of common ground: The paper suggested that Councils should enter into ‘statements of common ground’ with other authorities and relevant bodies to help demonstrate how they had complied with the legal duty to cooperate.
Viability assessments: The paper suggested that if the policies in a Local Plan were properly tested for their viability as part of the plan making process, there should be no reason for individual planning applications to be tested when developers claimed that they were unable to comply with Local Plan policies for viability reasons – thus saving time and money.
Increasing planning fees: The Government proposed that to help planning departments with resources, a 20% increase in planning fees could apply – but only where Councils were succeeding in delivering their housing numbers.
Members were informed that Officers had produced a draft response to all of the questions contained within the consultation paper (attached as Appendix 2 to the report) for the Committee to consider, suggest any changes and agree as the Council’s formal response.
Having discussed the information provided, it was moved by Councillor Turner, seconded by Councillor G V Guglielmi and RESOLVED:
(a) that the contents of the report be noted;
(b) that an informal meeting of the Committee be arranged to enable Members to consider further the Council’s response to the Government’s consultation paper “Planning for the right homes in the right places”;
(c) that the informal meeting be chaired by the Vice-Chairman of the Committee (Councillor Turner) and attended by the Council’s Planning Manager (Gary Guiver) to give advice to Members;
(d) that any members of the Committee who wish to feed in comments by email rather than, or as well as, attending the informal meeting should do so via the Planning Manager;
(e) that the aim of the informal meeting be to agree a final draft response which will be put to the Chairman of the Committee (Councillor Stock OBE) for his agreement; and
(f) that the Head of Planning Services submit the Council’s formal response (as approved by the Chairman of the Committee) to the Department for Committees and Local Government by its deadline of 9 November 2017.