The Council’s Public Speaking Scheme for the Planning Policy and Local Plan Committee gives the opportunity for members of the public and other interested parties/stakeholders to speak to the Council’s elected members on the Planning Policy and Local Plan Committee on any specific agenda item to be considered at that public meeting.
Frances Grant made a statement in relation to item A.1 in which she stated the environmental and historic rural character grounds for maintaining the strategic ‘green gap’ between Lawford, Manningtree and Mistley and urged that Sites SGG9 and SGG 10 should be removed from the schedule of Alternative Sites in the SHLAA.
In relation to report A.1 – Updated Housing Supply Position and Housing Trajectory, John Hall asked:
“URB13, Land off Grange Road, Lawford, continues to remain on the list and map of Alternative Sites even when:
The Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) needs to be made clearer in respect of sites like URB13. It is misleading to policy makers, landowners, land promoters and the local community to continue to include a site which has been discounted. This perpetuates anxiety for the many local residents of Lawford, Manningtree and Mistley who are already having to come to terms with over 30% increase in housing stock resulting from over 1500 new homes which have recently received Planning Permission.
Can you therefore remove URB13 from your list of Alternative Sites or at least put sites like URB13 on a separate Table and Map because they have been discounted?”
The Chairman of the Committee (Councillor Turner) replied as follows:-
“Thank you Mr. Hall for your question.
Firstly I would like to congratulate the Lawford Tye Action Group for their professional and very effective participation in the Grange Road planning appeal which helped to see off an unpopular and unwanted development in an area that has seen more than its fair share of planning applications in recent years.
The Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment is not, in itself, a plan or a planning document identifying where development should go – that is the job of the Local Plan. It is however an important piece of the ‘evidence base’ which demonstrates how the Council has assessed a range of sites in determining which sites should, and indeed should not, form part of the Local Plan.
Whilst I appreciate Mr. Hall and other residents’ concerns about the depiction of the Grange Road site on the maps accompanying the assessment and potential confusion this might cause, it is absolutely essential that the site is shown as an ‘Alternative Site’ on the map and assessed for its suitability, availability and achievability (as indeed it is on page 56 of the assessment and page 96 of today’s agenda).
This is because the Grange Road site, along with a number of others shown in red as ‘Alternative Sites’, is the subject of a formal objection to the Local Plan from Gladman Homes which will need to be considered by the Planning Inspector when they come to examine Section 2 of the Local Plan hopefully later this year.
The assessment is an important part of the Council’s evidence that our Officers will rely on at the Section 2 examination to justify the reasons for excluding sites, such as Grange Road, from the Local Plan. To exclude the site from the assessment as Mr. Hall has suggested would leave the Council vulnerable to accusations that alternative sites have not been properly considered.
The assessment reflects the Council’s resistance to the Grange Road planning application, the damning rejection by the appeal Inspector and the judge, and the very good reasons why the Lawford Tye Action Group are strongly opposed to development in this location. In presenting this information to the Planning Inspector as part of this assessment, we should be in a very strong position to ensure the site continues to be excluded from the Local Plan.”
In relation to report A.3 – Update on Neighbourhood Plans for Ardleigh and Alresford, Bill Marshall asked:
“The Officer has stated that: Ardleigh - An 8 week public consultation has taken place, with no objections. This is not correct, and therefore the proposed NDPA for Ardleigh should not be endorsed by this Committee at this meeting.
Furthermore, until the residents of Ardleigh have been fully consulted on any NP recommendations should not come before this Committee.
Will the Chairman of the Committee undertake to ensure a full public consultation takes place with the residents of Ardleigh?”
The Chairman of the Committee replied as follows:-
“Thank you Mr. Marshall for your question. Mr. Marshall is well versed at attending these meetings and was present throughout the recent examination sessions for the Section 1 Local Plan.
At this first stage of the process, which is simply to establish the area to be covered by the Ardleigh Neighbourhood Plan, the level and nature of the consultation has been perfectly adequate, meets legal requirements and responses from key statutory consultees have been received.
Furthermore, today’s report clearly explains that where a Parish Council is simply proposing the whole of its own administrative area for the purposes of a Neighbourhood Plan, the national guidance expects the District Council to agree that area without any question.
The position is more complicated for Parishes and other Neighbourhood Groups who propose areas that straddle parishes or form smaller defined areas that do not follow Parish lines. For Ardleigh, that is clearly not the case and this should be a fairly straight forward process.
When Ardleigh Parish Council progresses to the next stage and produces a draft of its Neighbourhood Plan, it will of course be important for residents of the area to be given decent opportunities to engage in the process and have constructive input. Our Officers will work constructively with the Parish Council to make sure the programme of engagement going forward achieves this.
Notwithstanding all of this, I am somewhat surprised that Mr. Marshall is seeking to delay the progress of Ardleigh’s Neighbourhood Plan and I would instead advise him to engage positively with the Parish Council as I’m sure he has ideas and suggestions that might, or might not, be of interest to them.”
Mr Marshall also made statements in relation to items A.1 and A.2 in which he urged the Council, in the light of recent events, to withdraw from the joint Section 1 of the Local Plan with Braintree and Colchester Councils and to concentrate solely on its Section 2 of the Local Plan.
In relation to report A.3 – Update on Neighbourhood Plans for Ardleigh and Alresford, Parish Councillor Chris Whitfield (Chair of the Ardleigh Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group) asked:
“How soon can Ardleigh Parish Council expect to engage with the Strategic Planning and Placement Team, to fully understand the support and funding available to them in the preparation of their Neighbourhood Plan?”
The Chairman of the Committee replied as follows:-
“I thank Mr. Whitfield for his question and am happy to advise that our Officers are keen to work with Ardleigh Parish Council at the earliest opportunity to assist in the preparation of their Neighbourhood Plan.
Indeed Officers are already giving consideration to the Parish Council’s request for advice on the number of homes that might be required in the Ardleigh area as part of the plan.
As soon as this Committee has agreed to the area for the Neighbourhood Plan, Officers will arrange to meet (virtually or otherwise) to discuss and share information including the consideration of housing figures, analysis of the results of the public consultation and the national and local policy requirements – as well as funding opportunities.
William Fuller from the Strategic Planning and Place Team will be the Parish Council’s main point of contact and will no doubt contact Mr. Whitfield shortly after today’s meeting.”