To consider the report of the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance, (copy enclosed).
The Committee considered the report of the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance seeking Members’ consideration of the Issues and Options Document (attached as Appendix 1 to the report) with a view to it going out for public consultation. It was noted that this would support the delivery of a lawful and sound Maldon District Local Development Plan (LDP) Review.
The report provided detail of the LDP Review agreed, the proposed timetable and work undertaken by Officers since the Review had been agreed. The report summarised the contents of the Issues and Options document and an equality impact assessment which had been prepared was attached at Appendix 2.
The Chairman moved the recommendations as set out in the report and this was duly seconded.
The Strategy, Policy and Communications Manager, in response to a question, confirmed that consideration had been given to the consultation timeline and the Christmas period. Members were advised depending on when the consultation started, assuming approval by the Council, the minimum length of time it had to run for was six weeks but because of the Christmas period this could and should be extended. The Chairman confirmed that Christmas was therefore being counted as a non-working week for the purpose of the consultation.
A debate ensued and some Members raised a number of points regarding the consultation document including:
· Rail provision within the District;
· Incorrect reference to ‘towns’ in the east of the District as there was only one;
· No mention of railways stations outside the District in relation to settlements in the north of the District or connection with strategic routes such as the A12;
· Affordable housing in areas other than those details in the document’
In response the Strategy, Policy and Communications Manager advised that the Planning Policy Working Group had discussed the Settlement Hierarchy and Spatial Options on a number of occasions, as well as the Issues and Options Document. He suggested that Officers could reflect on the comments made and make changes to the document in consultation with the Chairman of the Committee, prior to the document being agreed by the Council. It was noted that Members were not precluded from responding to the public consultation.
Further debate ensued and in response to further comments and questions, additional information was provided by Officers including:
· how in response to the Call for Sites the Council had received more land submitted than it had a need for. However, the Officer reminded Members that these were subject to further appraisal to determine whether they were suitable and sustainable. Officers were also expecting the Issues and Options document to generate more land submissions as part of the consultation.
· It was noted that Essex County Council (ECC) had commented it would not support ‘pepper-potting’ and the Strategy, Policy and Communications Manager advised that ‘pepper-potting’ was an approach to growth used in the planning system that should at least be considered by the Council. Although ECC had indicated they would not support it, it would be able to make that point in its formal consultation response, hopefully with its detailed reasons behind this stance. When queried on the appropriateness of the phrase ‘pepper-potting’, he advised Members not to look to remove this terminology from the document as it was an easier way to describe a technical approach to the public in the consultation.
· Climate change considerations and questions were included in the document and there was ongoing work to determine how far the LDP Review could go to support the Council’s complimentary work on its Climate Action Strategy.
The Chairman proposed that the recommendations be amended, and the Issues and Options document went back to the Working Group for their review and then to the Council. The Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance clarified however that this approach was not possible and therefore this proposal was not supported.
Following further discussion, the Chairman proposed that further feedback from Members be sent to the Strategy, Policy and Communications Manager and Lead Specialist – Planning Policy and Implementation to allow them to make any amendments, in consultation with the Chairman of this Committee, prior to the updated document being put to the Council for approval. This proposal was duly seconded and agreed. The Chairman advised the Committee that any comments should be received by the end of the following week (Sunday 26 September) and all Committee Members would receive an email to remind them of this.
(i) That the progress made in the preparation of the Local Development Plan Review be noted;
(ii) That Members of the Strategy and Resources Committee provide any further feedback to the Strategy, Policy and Communications Manager and Lead Specialist – Planning Policy and Implementation by the end of Sunday 26 September and the Issues and Options Document be amended in consultation with the Chairman prior to its presentation to the Council for approval.
(ii) That subject to any amendments as detailed in (ii) above, the Regulation 18 LDP Issues and Options Document for public consultation in accordance with the Regulations and the Maldon District Statement of Community Involvement 2021 (as set out in APPENDIX 3 to these Minutes) be approved.