a) Approved the West Northamptonshire Strategic Plan: Spatial Options Consultation Paper (Appendix A) for the purposes of public consultation as set out in the report.
b) Approved the West Northamptonshire Local Development Scheme (Appendix B) which would have effect upon expiry of the call-in period for Cabinet decisions.
c) Noted the responses to the consultation on the draft Statement of Community Involvement and adopted the Statement of Community Involvement with the amendments set out in Appendix C.
d) Delegated to the Assistant Director: Growth, Climate and Regeneration, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Built Environment and Rural Affairs, authority to make minor editorial and presentational changes to the above documents in their final published form.
1. The development plan (or local plan) is central to the planning system with a requirement in law that planning decisions must be taken in line with the development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise. Each local planning authority must identify their strategic priorities and have policies to address these in their local plans. It is essential that plans are in place and up to date. The preparation of the West Northamptonshire Strategic Plan is required to ensure that the new council has an up-to-date development plan, and the spatial options consultation is the key next step in the preparation of the plan.
2. An LDS is required which sets out the Local Plans, which when prepared, will comprise part of the development plan for the area. The LDS must be made available publicly and kept up to date. For West Northamptonshire a new LDS is needed to set out the revised timetable for the West Northamptonshire Strategic Plan and also for the remaining stages of the Northampton Local Plan (Part 2).
3. Local authorities are also required to have in place an up-to-date SCI. Consultation has been undertaken on the SCI. This report sets out the responses received during the consultation and proposes changes in response to the representations. If adopted it would set out how the Strategic Plan will be consulted upon, at the various stages of preparation.
ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS: None
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST DECLARED AND DISPENSATIONS GRANTED: None.
At the Chairman’s invitation Councillor Rebecca Breese presented the report, copies of which had been previously circulated. The report presented an explanation of the scale of the housing requirements The committee was advised that there were a number of potential options. All of the options presented had been informed by any feedback that had been received. It was advised that further technical work was required and no firm decisions had been made yet and that consultations would take place on an 8-week timeframe starting in November. Several background reports would be presented and all responses brought back to Cabinet.
Councillors made the following comments.
· It was accepted that there would be a large amount of growth in the south of the county.
· It was queried as to why there had been no involvement of ward members so far, and why officers who do not know the area well would make the decisions.
· It was noted that the author of the report did not seem to be familiar with the south of the county.
· The committee was reminded that the Cambridgeshire – Oxford Arc had not yet been defined.
· It was accepted that this had been a consultation, but it was queried whether views from residents about this would be taken into consideration. Could there be a delay to look at other options?
· The committee was reminded that consideration should also be given to transport, specifically public transport.
· There had been concerns that this could transform the character of the area, and was felt to be very pro-Northampton, with not much consideration given to outside areas.
· The report had advised that 33,000 new homes were needed and that half of these would be built in the countryside, there had been no urban capacity proposed in the report.
· It was noted that the proposed development in south Northants would increase the proximity of Towcester and Northampton, with many of the roads in the area already at capacity.
· It was felt that the local development scheme should ensure conformity and that an urgent review must take place.
· The Fraser Road development was mentioned.
· The committee was reminded that climate change should be discussed, as there needed to be radical changes made.
· It was asked if the new settlements could include a transit site for travellers as needs had not been met in this area.
· It was felt that there could have been further information on social values included in the report.
Councillor Rebecca Breese made the following comments.
· The process would be a very detailed one and many workshops had taken place with the previous authorities.
· The importance of transport, and specifically public transport, was understood.
· All concerns and comments would be taken on board.
· It was noted that this would be a large development scheme and several planning documents would be coming forward for investigation.
· It was advised that the best way to have concerns noted would be to contact the investigators directly.
· It was stated that the Fraser Road development was not on the plan and as such not due for debate.
· The committee was informed that all options would be taken into account.
· The spatial planning framework had been used as a tool during this process.
Councillor Phil Larratt agreed with the importance of connectivity and with cars being the default means of transportation, the infrastructure to go with this would be important.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet.