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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 07/12/2004
Local Development Scheme



Summary & Purpose
At the last meeting of the Executive on 4th October 2004, this report was deferred in order that officers could give further consideration to:

the implications of the final version of the Regulations which had been published on the 28th September 2004 and the draft guidance on how to carry out Sustainability Appraisals which had also been published in September;

staffing and budgetary implications and demands on the service;

the changed circumstances regarding the Dunsfold Aerodrome Area Action Plan.

The report deals with those matters. A revised draft Local Development Scheme is attached. At the meeting of the Local Development Framework Special Interest Group on 3rd November 2004, the revised Local Development Framework Scheme was agreed.

Quality of Life Implications
Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe Communities
Local Economy
Natural
Resource Use
Pollution
Prevention and Control
Biodiversity
and Nature
Local
Environment
Social
Inclusion
Safe, Healthy
and Active
Communities
Local
Economy
Positive
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APPENDIX R
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

EXECUTIVE - 7TH DECEMBER 2004
LOCAL DEVELOPMENT FRAMEWORK SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP
3RD NOVEMBER 2004

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Title:

LOCAL DEVELOPMENT SCHEME

[Wards Affected: All]
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Summary and purpose:

At the last meeting of the Executive on 4th October 2004, this report was deferred in order that officers could give further consideration to:

the implications of the final version of the Regulations which had been published on the 28th September 2004 and the draft guidance on how to carry out Sustainability Appraisals which had also been published in September; staffing and budgetary implications and demands on the service; the changed circumstances regarding the Dunsfold Aerodrome Area Action Plan.

The report deals with those matters. A revised draft Local Development Scheme is attached. At the meeting of the Local Development Framework Special Interest Group on 3rd November 2004, the revised Local Development Framework Scheme was agreed.

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Quality of life implications – social, environmental & economic (sustainable development):

E-Government implications:
There may be implications for e-government in the consultation processes.

Resource and Legal Implications

The resource and legal implications are set out in the report.

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Background

1. Since the last meeting, the Government has published the final version of the Regulations and circumstances have changed in respect of Dunsfold. Officers have also been asked to give further consideration to the budgetary and staffing implications following the resignation of one of the key members of the Policy and Special Projects Team. For these reasons the Executive deferred consideration of the matter at its meeting on the 4th October 2004. 2. Officers have re-examined these issues and have produced a revised draft Local Development Scheme. This document is attached at Annexe 1.

The Regulations and the Sustainability Appraisal Document

3. The final version of the Regulations, published on the 28th September, sets out a number of prescriptive requirements for the form and content of Development Plan Documents and the requirements for public consultation. The Council will be required to identify specific “milestones” such as dates for the various public examinations (see Table 1 in the Draft Local Development Scheme). The achievement of these “milestones” will be one of the criteria which will be used in the Annual Monitoring Report to judge the successful achievement of the LDF. 4. The Sustainability Appraisal of Regional Spatial Strategies and Local Development Frameworks document, which was also published by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (for consultation) in September, makes clear the requirements in respect of Sustainability Appraisals. It is clear from these documents that the amount of work that the Council will have to do, in the preparation of the documents themselves, in the consultation processes and, particularly in the Sustainability Appraisals, is significantly greater than was originally anticipated. This clearly will have knock-on impacts on the ability of officers and members to undertake the work programme. 5. Officers have therefore had further discussions with GOSE and have been advised that the original draft LDS is too ambitious. The Government Office has therefore advised that the Council should draw back on its commitments unless additional resources are made available. The Government Office has also advised that the Council should concentrate on the key or core tasks which include the:

6. Statement of Community Involvement
Core Strategy
Housing allocations, including Sustainability Appraisals on each document
Annual Monitoring Report 7. The Government Office has the right to reject a Local Development Scheme if it considers it unachievable.

Budgetary and staffing issues

8. The Policy and Enabling Officer has resigned to take up a more senior post with another Local Authority. His post focuses on housing issues, in particular in promoting affordable housing developments, and is a key post in the Policy and Special projects team. No appointment could be made following the first advertisement. In view of the key nature of the position, a further effort is being made to readvertise, however this process will inevitably cause a delay in progressing this key area of work. 9. The Government’s timetable and the ability of the Policy and Special Projects Team to carry out the full list of Development Plan Documents within that tight timetable is limited. It is clear that there are adequate resources to carry out the essential tasks within the timetable (the Core Strategy and the Housing Allocations work), however it is becoming increasingly evident that the team’s ability to carry out other work is limited.

10. It is therefore appropriate to consider whether there are any alternative approaches.

Use of Consultants

11. The Housing Development Plan Document (DPD) is one of the two key areas of work that the Government wants carried out before March 2007. Officers have proposed that the Urban Capacity Study be carried out by Consultants. This study will form a key part of the evidence base that the Council must provide to support the DPD. It is proposed that this work be carried out by next April/May and the it be paid for through the remainder of this year’s Hired and Contracted Services budget and the majority of next year’s Hired and Contracted Services budget. There will, therefore, be little opportunity to bring in consultants to carry out other areas of work within existing budgets. There are two other areas of work that could be undertaken by consultants. These are the studies necessary to assess the suitability and capability of redeveloping under-used industrial and employment land for housing purposes and the work on affordable housing policy and delivery mechanisms. In the officers’ view these two areas should have first call on any Planning Delivery Grant (PDG) monies. However, until the level of PDG is known this work will have to be carried out “in house”.

Additional Staff

12. One of the key members of the Policy and Special Projects team has resigned to take up a post in another authority. As indicated in paragraph 8, the Council is experiencing considerable difficulty in appointing a suitably experienced planning officer. Such difficulties are not unusual. Other Local Authorities have experienced similar problems. Experienced qualified planners are at a premium and it is in the Council’s interest that their skills are directed on the areas where they can bring most benefit. It is clear from the Regulations that consultation will play an increasingly central part in the future and whilst planners have many skills, including the ability to run and manage public consultation programmes, an alternative approach could be to bring in an additional member of staff, (possibly a career grade post at Planning Assistant/Technician level) to carry out this area of work. This would release qualified Planning Officers to undertake other priority areas of work. However, this would be a long term goal. In the short-term, officers within the Policy and Special Project team will have to take on these duties. This will reduce their ability to carry out other areas of work. 13. In addition, the Policy & Special Projects team has, over the last few years, had played a significant role in a number of major projects, including East Street, Farnham and the Godalming Key Site and has produced Planning Framework strategy documents for both. Other sites, such as Cranleigh Brick and Tile, have also necessitated major contributions. The scale of these proposals is such that existing staff resources will be severely stretched with the advent of the LDF. For these reasons additional staff resources are being examined.

Joint Working

14. Officers are investigating ways in which they can work with colleagues on joint initiatives. Members will be aware of the work being undertaken jointly by the County Council, the District and Borough Councils, the Police and other organisations to deal with the strategic needs of gypsies and Travellers in the County. Opportunities also exist for joint working on some of the Generic policies and on the Parking Management Plan

Dunsfold Aerodrome Area Action Plan

15. The Rutland Group has purchased some 900 acres of land at Hunterswood Farm. This land extends significantly the company’s land holding in the area. It provides The Rutland Group with the potential for direct access onto the A281 and comprises a considerable proportion of the land between Dunsfold Aerodrome and Cranleigh.

16. The purchase of this land could open a number of opportunities which may have wider than local significance and which would include a regional dimension. It is clear that the amount of work that will be required to address the issues in the thorough and comprehensive manner that will be required cannot be undertaken in time for an Examination in the Autumn of 2005 as originally intended.

17. SEERA is publishing its draft Regional Plan in the Spring of next year. The outcomes of the consultations and, ultimately of the Examination, are likely to have a significant impact on the options for the future for The Rutland Group’s land holdings in this area.

18. Moreover, the Planning Inspectorate has indicated that it is not going to have the resources to undertake any more than the examinations into the Core Strategy next year. With the anticipated pressures on the Inspectorate during 2006, officers anticipate that the Inspectorate will limit Examinations during that year to only Core Strategies and Housing DPDs (i.e. the priority documents).

19. It is, therefore, becoming increasingly clear that it will not be possible to carry out the Dunsfold AAP in time for an Examination next Autumn as originally intended.

Other on-going work

20. Whilst the production of the LDF is the principal task that the Policy & Special Project Team has to undertake, it is the one which will take up the majority of officers’ time. Officers have estimated that some 70% of the officer time resource in the Policy and Special Project Team will need to be devoted over the next two years to the preparation of the Core Strategy and Housing DPD. There is, therefore, a limited capacity to carry out other tasks. There are, however, a number of priority tasks that should not be avoided if the Council’s interests are not to be jeopardised. These include:

current work on the South East Plan, including the Western Corridor Blackwater Valley sub-region;
consultations from the Government, adjoining authorities and the County Council (including Minerals and Waste issues);
planning policy input into current Development Control applications;
Census/monitoring/information returns;
publishing the Planning Newsletter
Design Awards;
Regeneration Issues: 21. Officers are looking to treat these more critically and deal only with those aspects which have a direct impact on the council’s priority interests.

Draft Revised Local Development Scheme

22. Progress on the Local Development Scheme will be used as a measure to determine future levels of Planning Delivery Grant. The Government Office has advised that the Council should not be over-ambitious and should not commit itself to a timetable of projects which it cannot deliver. This could subsequently loosen some of the Planning Delivery Grant awarded. 23. Having regard to this advice, officers recommend that the LDS should restrict itself to delivering the “minimum”. Should additional resources become available and further tasks be completed, then this would be to the Council’s credit. Subject to Council approval these resources could be re-invested in the service.

24. Officers therefore recommend that the LDS be revised to identify only those tasks that it must achieve by September 2007, viz:

Statement of Community Involvement
Core Strategy
Housing allocations, including Sustainability Appraisals on each document
Annual Monitoring Report 25. Officers recommend that the following tasks be carried out subject to additional resources being made available, either from the Council’s budget or through the Planning Delivery Grant:

Hindhead
Dunsfold
Development Control Policies;
Planning Obligations

26. Comment has been made that consideration should be given to preparing a Development Plan Document for Haslemere Town Centre and for Low density areas. It is clear that these documents cannot be produced within existing resources. With current resources it is unlikely that these tasks could be undertaken before 2007. The post-2007 timetable would therefore include:

Farnham Town Centre AAP
Cranleigh Centre AAP
Haslemere Centre AAP
Godalming AAP
Sport/Leisure DPD
Low Density Areas DPD
Ockford Ridge SPD

27. A revised draft LDS is attached at Annexe 1 incorporating these changes. Consideration by the Local Development Framework Special Interest Group

28. At the meeting of the Local Development Framework Special Interest Group on 3rd November 2004, Members agreed the revised Draft Local Development Scheme.

29. Members emphasised that the Housing Development Plan Document (DPD) was a key area of work and should have priority with any planning delivery grant monies. The SIG also emphasised that in regard to the Housing Development Plan Document, the public were concerned about affordable housing and needed to comment early on in the consultation process for their comments to be adequately dealt with.

31. Members agreed that Dunsfold Area Action Plan should cover Dunsfold and the surrounding area to reflect recent developments. In regard to the Waverley Borough Cycling Plan SPD Members stated that this should be consistently applied with the Surrey Local Transport Plan and that there should not be any duplication of existing policies.

32 The SIG agreed that these were very good documents and commended the work that had been carried out.

Recommendation

It is recommended that the revised Draft Local Development Scheme be agreed prior to it being adopted by Council and submitted to the Government Office in December.

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Background Papers (DoPD)

Planning Policy Statement 12 (Local Development Frameworks) 2004
T&CP (Local Development) England Regulations 2004
T&CP (Transitional Arrangements) England Regulations 2004
Sustainability Appraisal of Regional Spatial Strategies and Local Development Frameworks (Consultation Draft) September 2004

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CONTACT OFFICERS: Peter Hartley Telephone: 01483 - 523297

E-mail: phartley@waverley.gov.uk

Miss G Molony Telephone: 01483 523296

E-mail: gmolony@waverley.gov.uk

comms/executive/04-05/265