Agenda item

The Chairman of the Planning Policy and Local Plan Committee (Councillor Turner) will give a statement on the Local Plan Inspector’s letter dated 15 May 2020.


The Chairman of the Planning Policy and Local Plan Committee (Councillor Turner) made a statement on the contents of the Local Plan Inspector’s Letter dated 15 May 2020 as follows:-


“I am very pleased to report that Tendring District Council offered for Examination Section 1 of its Local Plan. It was found to be ‘sound’.


It was offered in conjunction with Colchester Borough Council and Braintree District Council’s Section Ones and the examination was considered to be the largest for any Local Plan in England. Together, the 3 authorities are known as North Essex Authorities, NEAs for short. The combined Plan was found to be ‘not sound’ by the Inspector.


The examination was held at Colchester Football Club over 7 days in January. I managed to attend for 5.5 days as an observer. The level of detail and information offered and received was intense. Some days there were 4 Queens Counsels in attendance, representing various bodies, Companies and the North Essex Garden Communities Ltd.


Mr Guiver was one of the spokespersons for the North Essex Authorities. He held his head up in the highest company, not only as the mouthpiece but also as one of the main authors of our Section One.


He was not found wanting.


Thank you Gary and your team. Very, very well done.


An important part of the Inspector’s Letter received three weeks ago last was that he upheld upheld our Dwellings per Annum target of 550. That is wonderful news, although we will still have to take into account the standardised formula as shown in the 2019 edition of the NPPF. The figure of 865 dpa will only go away, when we ratify this part of the plan in Full Council. A lot more on that in the next item.


Our idea of a Garden Community on the Tendring and Colchester Borders for upwards of 7,500 houses over the next 30 to 40 years is also found to be viable and sound. That means Tendring’s extra growth can all be accommodated for this Local plan period and probably for most if not all of the succeeding Plan, i.e. 2033 onwards.


Finally, the successful bid, made by Essex Highways to the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) has granted £65m to build a link road between the A133 and A120 and a further £34m to supply a rapid transport system from the Garden Community into and beyond Colchester. This is contingent on 50 houses and the road being built plus the RTS being in place by March 2024. To that end the Cabinet at County have agreed to the route of the proposed road and plans are being drawn up to be submitted for Planning Permission by Christmas this year. The road builders will then be able to start in 2021. Preparation on the Master Plan for the Garden Community has begun so that we can start work on that first 50 houses and have them completed by March 2024.


The Inspector has invited the North Essex Authorities to agree with his recommendations for progressing the Local Plan to the next stages of the process or otherwise withdraw the plan and start again. This is shown in stark English on para 267 of his Letter.


To that end, a formal decision for how to proceed will be required from all three Councils and another meeting of this Committee will be arranged for a date next month to consider the Inspector’s letter in more detail along with the specific changes to the Local Plan he has recommended. Out partner authorities are making similar arrangements with the aim of coming to a shared decision.


Discussions are also being had between Officers and Members of the three Councils over the future role of North Essex Garden Communities (NEGC) Ltd in light of the Inspector’s findings but mainly because we are moving from the planning and promoting Garden Communities to delivery phase of Tendring Colchester Borders.


Officers will keep us updated in the coming days and weeks.”


Councillor G V Guglielmi declared a personal interest in the contents of the Statement insofar as he was an alternate Board Director of NEGC Ltd.


Members asked questions of the Chairman on his statement which he responded to along with the Chief Executive and the Assistant Director (Governance) & Monitoring Officer.


The Committee noted the foregoing.