Development Strategy Position Update
- Meeting of SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES OVERVIEW & SCRUTINY COMMITTEE, Thursday, 14 January 2016 10.00 a.m. (Item 59.)
To receive information regarding progress on the Council’s Development Strategy.
The Development Infrastructure Group Manager delivered a presentation regarding the Council’s Development Strategy and Local Plan. The Committee were informed that Member leads had been appointed to work closely with neighbouring authorities, ensuring that the duty to cooperate was adhered to. It also confirmed that the call for sites included Gypsy and Traveller (G&T) provision and that the Plan would address the impact of new Government guidelines.
Members raised concerns regarding:-
· The potential for hostile applications during 2016-18 until the Plan was fully adopted. It was confirmed that policies and protections would be in place during the interim period, particularly with regards to unsustainable developments. The definitive position with regards the Council’s 5 year land supply would be clarified in February 2016.
· The need to submit proposals in a timely fashion and where possible condense timescales to avoid central government intervention. In response it was confirmed that where possible programmes would be compressed.
· The process regarding community led plans and whether villages should continue with neighbourhood plans. The Director for Regeneration and Business confirmed the new Plan would ensure robust engagement with communities and that both neighbourhood and community led plans were still valid elements of the process.
Cllr Nicols expressed concerns with regards the quantum of homes required for Central Bedfordshire, which he felt was too low. Cllr Nicols felt an appropriate level of allocation across Central Bedfordshire was necessary as his Ward had historically taken a large proportion of the area’s need. Cllr Nicols was concerned that assurances had been given previously that there were no plans at that time or in the future to build within his Ward but due to recent developments this was no longer the case.
In response the Infrastructure Group Manager acknowledged that certain areas of Cllr Nicol’s Ward had been subject to development in the past and this would be taken into consideration during the further review of proposals. The Executive Member for Regeneration confirmed that Central Bedfordshire’s quantum of required homes was 31,000 but this did not include the needs of neighbouring authorities such as Luton. In light of these figures it was difficult to give assurances that any particular Ward would be exempt from future development. The Executive Member did not recall providing past guarantees that Cllr Nicol’s Ward would be immune from future development although Sundon had been discussed as a past concern. The Director stressed the importance of ensuring the Council focussed on Central Bedfordshire’s need first, then consider the need of neighbouring authorities.
Cllr Nicols expressed further concern that a recent workshop to discuss the Local Plan had only involved Executive Members. In response the Development Infrastructure Group Manager explained the meeting with the Executive was not to make decisions but enabled a review of the strategic overview. The Director highlighted the importance of following due process and reassured the Committee that all Members would be involved in both formal and informal processes, ensuring that the Council responded appropriately to the pressure of growth within Central Bedfordshire.
NOTED the update.