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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 09/11/2006




1. Introduction:

1.1 At its meeting on 10th October, the Planning Policy Special Interest Group considered two reports relating to the Local Development Framework: -

a report on the outcome of the recent public consultation on the Issues and Options for the Housing Development Plan Document (DPD); and
a report providing an update on the draft Core Strategy.

2. Outcome of the Housing DPD Issues and Options Consultation:

2.1 Officers explained the form and content of the consultation. This was based around a questionnaire that identified 15 key issues/questions and set out two or three possible options for each of these. Members noted that 316 questionnaires had been returned, the majority from residents. Members were also advised that additional responses had been received by letter/email.

2.2 Officers identified a number of key issues arising from the consultation and explained that the next stage in the process is to develop the issues and options into preferred options. They explained that this process would be informed by the outcome of the consultation. In addition, other matters will continue to inform the development of the Housing DPD, including the Core Strategy, emerging Government policy in the form of the anticipated Planning Policy Statement (PPS) 3 on housing and the South East Plan.

2.3 There was some discussion about the main issues that the Housing DPD must address. In relation to the issue of affordable housing. Officers explained the link between issues such as the thresholds for affordable housing, the percentage of affordable housing sought and the issue of financial contributions in lieu of on-site provision. Officers explained that in considering the approach to affordable housing it would be necessary to consider the potential impact any changes in policy could have on viability.

2.4 The main discussion was in relation to housing supply issues. Officers explained that SEERA, in its response to the submitted Core Strategy, has stated that the Council should now be planning to meet the housing allocation for Waverley that is set out in the draft South East Plan. This would be a requirement to provide for 230 dwellings a year from 2006 to 2018, the end-date for the Core Strategy.

2.5 Officers explained that the overall strategy for the location of development, as set out in the Core Strategy, is to focus development primarily within the four main settlements. Officers explained that the supply of housing to meet the 230 per annum would come from sites with planning permission, sites that would be specifically allocated for development and an allowance for the continued supply of windfall housing sites.

2.6 There was some discussion about the issue of windfalls and concerns that have been raised locally about the impact of some new residential developments on existing residential areas. Members of the Special Interest Group recognised, therefore, that the approach taken in relation to windfalls would be a key component of the Housing DPD.

2.7 One particular issue that was raised concerned the process of involving Members in the development of the Preferred Options. It was agreed that this would best be done by arranging a further workshop for all Members to focus on the identification and development of the preferred options. Officers are, therefore, making arrangements for such a workshop.

3. Core Strategy Update

3.1 Officers introduced a report that provided an update on the Core Strategy. The Core Strategy was formally submitted to the Government on 31st July. It is now going through the process leading up to the Examination. Since the submission of the Core Strategy, Inspector’s reports on two other Core Strategies (Lichfield and Stafford) have been published. Both Core Strategies were found to be unsound. The reports on these, and the subsequent letter from the DCLG, have enabled officers to get a better understanding of the various tests of soundness that LDF documents, such as the Core Strategy, must pass.

3.2 As a result, officers have identified some potential issues for the Waverley Core Strategy. These were considered by Members: - Members re-enforced the view that the Core Strategy is a broad strategic document. They acknowledged that there are some critical issues for Waverley, such as the issue of windfall housing sites, but agreed that it was more appropriate that detailed work relating to this matter, including any criteria-based policy, should be part of the Housing DPD rather than the Core Strategy. In relation to the evidence base, Members felt that given the character of Waverley, with the four main settlements located around the periphery of the Borough, and given that Area Action Plans are to be prepared for each of these four settlements, it was not appropriate to identify a hierarchy of the main settlements. Members had a concern that such an approach could result in the possibility that there would be a skewed approach to the distribution of development. With regard to the housing figures, members acknowledged that the provisional South East Plan figure of 230 per annum should be the target figure in the Core Strategy. They also noted the officer view that this amount of housing can be delivered without compromising the overall approach to the location of development. With regard to rural settlements, Members re-enforced the Core Strategy approach, where the focus on development in rural settlements is that which is appropriate to the needs of the rural communities. For this reason Members felt there was no need for a hierarchy of villages. There was some discussion about the role of the Dunsfold Aerodrome site. It was felt that the Core Strategy says enough on this. However, if more detail were required, then Members felt that this site could be used for the relocation major traffic generating employment uses in Cranleigh, with the affected sites being suitable for a mixed residential/commercial use. It was considered that such an approach would be consistent with the Core Strategy. On the issue of flexibility, Members recognised its value, but endorsed the officer view that there is a limit on how far it can be taken. Members recognised that any major shift in national or regional would be likely to require a review of the Core Strategy. Members also considered the issue of local distinctiveness. The view was that the Core Strategy as it stands is pitched at the right level. Officers explained the position in relation to the current lack off figure-specific milestones/targets within the Core Strategy. Officers explained that a supporting document dealing with this is being prepared and is due to be considered by the Executive in November, after which the document will be the subject of public consultation. This document will then feed into the Core Strategy Examination, which is due to commence in January. Members noted and endorsed this approach.


It is recommended that the Executive notes the report from the meeting of the Planning Policy Special Interest Group.