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Agenda item

Consultation to inform the Wiltshire Local Plan Review

Minutes:

Cllr Toby Sturgis, Cabinet Member for Spatial Planning, Development Management and Property presented the report setting out the next steps for consulting on the Wiltshire Local Plan Review.

 

Questions were received from the following:

 

Steve Perry – the question was covered under minute 138 above

Mike Blanchard

Kim Stuckey

Isabel McCord

Myla Watts

Peter Cousins

Helen Stuckey

Chris Caswill

Sue McGill

Cllr Nick Murry

 

Cllr Whitehead acknowledged that the questions had received written responses which had been published on the Council’s website prior to the meeting.

 

A supplementary question was asked by Chris Caswill about the impact of COVID-19 on the proposed consultation.  Cllr Toby Sturgis, Cabinet Member for Spatial Planning, Development Management and Property explained that guidance from the Government has urged all local planning authorities to continue to prepare their Local Plan and not to suspend work during COVID-19. To stop preparations would incur the risk of speculative ad hoc development being permitted outside the Council and communities’ control.

 

Cllr Sturgis highlighted that Local Plans are informed and shaped by the government’s requirements for growth that each area needs to accommodate, in this case in the period up to 2036. He explained that much of the required level of growth - around 45,600 homes - had already been planned for and that based on the position at April 2019, there was a residual or shortfall of around 17,000 homes. He reminded Cabinet that they approved a timeline for the Wiltshire Local Plan Review at their meeting in March 2020 to enable consultation to be undertaken with the community and stakeholders on how the Council might deliver the required level of growth across Wiltshire. By undertaking consultation prior to any actual allocations being made in a draft Local Plan, people will have the opportunity to put forward their views and inform the Council’s thinking in early 2021. These views will then inform the details of the draft Plan.

 

The report presents the proposed content for an extensive consultation on the

direction of the Wiltshire Local Plan Review. Cllr Sturgis, along with other Cabinet Members requested that all Councillors encourage their local communities to become involved in the consultation.

 

In response to questions from Cllr Laura Mayes about (i) clarity in relation to the overall housing requirements; and (ii) the role of neighbourhood plans, speculative applications and current 5 year housing land supply position (using the example of Devizes), Cllr Sturgis explained that (i) the residual figure at  April 2019 clarified how much of the overall housing requirement for each settlement was left to be planned for - for Devizes this is 330 homes; and (ii) an action plan was in place to improve housing supply and a number of planning permissions had been granted as a result.   

 

Cllr Richard Clewer, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, Heritage, Arts & Tourism, Housing and Communities referred to Appendix 4 and how the Local Plan Review proposes to address climate change and biodiversity net gain, which would be an important part of the consultation.

 

Cllr Stuart Wheeler, Chair of the Environment Select Committee welcomed the approach to the rural area and expressed his frustration at the current guidelines and their inflexibility to encourage development in villages.

 

In response to questions from Cllr Ian Thorn, Leader of the Liberal Democrats about (i) protections for non-statutory nature sites; and (ii) the number of dwellings required for the Calne area. The Leader and Cllr Sturgis (i) confirmed that national planning policy framework and current local planning policies set out what protection may be appropriate for nature sites ; and (ii) the consultation documents detail all possible sites.

 

In response to questions from Cllr Sarah Gibson about how to improve engagement with local residents during consultations on the local plan, the Leader, Cllr Sturgis and Cllr Bucknell referred to paragraph 27 of the report;  which referred to the consultation arrangements and confirmed that the consultation would be far and wide and engagement would take place with as many groups and local residents as possible, this may involve Area Boards.

 

In response to questions from Cllr Gavin Grant about (i) the 5 year housing land supply and housing market areas; (ii) confidence in ‘planned for’ housing figures; (iii) the housing range from which a preferred housing requirement would be identified, the Leader confirmed that an updated housing land supply position would be published in the next two weeks.  Cllr Sturgis explained that: (i) For the purpose of calculating 5 year housing land supply housing market areas are no longer suitable and Government requires us to do this on a county basis but they are used for the Local Plan as a basis to distribute homes because Wiltshire is so large; (ii) The Council has to provide evidence the identified sites are deliverable and financially viable; and (iii) The 40,000 range is based on a standard methodology and figures change. The larger figure is used for testing as this may be the figure that needs to be used in the future and is based on evidence.

 

Resolved:

1.    To approve the documents as set out in Appendices 1, 2, 3 and 4 for consultation to inform the content of the Wiltshire Local Plan Review, subject to amendment in (2);

 

2.    To delegate authority to the Director for Economic Development and Planning in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Spatial Planning, Development Management and Property to: make any necessary changes to the consultation documents in (1) in the interest of clarity and accuracy before they are finalised for publication; finalise evidence documents relating to the consultation; and make arrangements for and undertake statutory consultation with the start date to take into consideration the COVID-19 position; and

 

3.    Receives a report after the consultation summarising the main issues raised.

 

 

Reason for Decision:

 

To ensure that progress continues to be made on maintaining an up to date

Local Plan for Wiltshire in line with the Council’s Local Development Scheme

and statutory requirements.

 

Supporting documents:

 

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