Waverley Borough Council Home Page Waverley Borough Council Home Page


Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 05/04/2005
SOUTH EAST PLAN: CONSULTATION ON ISSUES AND OPTIONS



Summary & Purpose
Apart from London, the South East is the most populous and most prosperous region in the UK. The South East England Regional Assembly (SEERA) is preparing the new Plan for the region to be known as the South East Plan. This document will set out the vision for the region through to 2026 and, once approved, will become a legal document which local authorities and other government agencies will have to follow.

SEERA is currently undertaking a major piece of public consultation which ends on the 15th April. SEERA has asked Local Authorities to assist with this Consultation. A number of workshops have taken place, “piggy-backed” onto consultation workshops which this Council has arranged in connection with its consultation on the Statement of Community Involvement and the LDF Core Strategy. In addition the Council has consulted the Citizens’ Panel. There has also been a workshop for Members and a Special meeting of the Council.

This report sets out the results of the consultations and highlights a number of issues which the Planning Policy Special Interest Group considers could form the basis of the Council’s formal response.

A Special meeting of the Council has been arranged for 12th April in order to meet SEERA’s deadline.

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
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive


APPENDIX C
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

EXECUTIVE – 5TH APRIL 2005



Title:
SOUTH EAST PLAN: CONSULTATION ON ISSUES AND OPTIONS
[Wards Affected: All]


Summary and purpose:

Apart from London, the South East is the most populous and most prosperous region in the UK. The South East England Regional Assembly (SEERA) is preparing the new Plan for the region to be known as the South East Plan. This document will set out the vision for the region through to 2026 and, once approved, will become a legal document which local authorities and other government agencies will have to follow.

SEERA is currently undertaking a major piece of public consultation which ends on the 15th April. SEERA has asked Local Authorities to assist with this Consultation. A number of workshops have taken place, “piggy-backed” onto consultation workshops which this Council has arranged in connection with its consultation on the Statement of Community Involvement and the LDF Core Strategy. In addition the Council has consulted the Citizens’ Panel. There has also been a workshop for Members and a Special meeting of the Council.

This report sets out the results of the consultations and highlights a number of issues which the Planning Policy Special Interest Group considers could form the basis of the Council’s formal response.

A Special meeting of the Council has been arranged for 12th April in order to meet SEERA’s deadline.



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

Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe, Healthy and Active Communities
Local Economy
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive

E-Government implications:

There are no direct e-government implications.

Resource and legal implications:

There are no direct resource and legal implications.



Introduction

1. Apart from London, the South East is the most populous and most prosperous region in the UK. The South East England Regional Assembly (SEERA) is preparing the new Plan for the region, known as the South East Plan. This document will set out the vision for the region through to 2026 and, once approved, will become a legal document which local authorities and other government agencies will have to follow.

2. SEERA is currently undertaking a major piece of public consultation which ends on the 15th April. This consultation deals with the issues and options facing the region and sets out how the growing demands for homes, jobs and transport will be met. In particular it:-

identifies the number of new houses that are needed;
highlights investment priorities for transport and other infrastructure;
recommends ways to improve health and the environment; and
promotes energy efficiency, recycling and the reduction of waste.

3. Leaflets and questionnaires have been sent by SEERA to every household and opinion polls are being held.

Consultation Arrangements

4. In view of the importance that Members attach to this issue, the following consultation arrangements have been undertaken, “piggy-backing” on the SCI and Core Strategy consultation:-

a number of workshops have been arranged (one for Parish and Town Councils, one for local organisations, one with Housing Associations and RSLs). The purpose of these workshops was to:- seek the views of the Local Strategic Partnership
seek the views of the Citizens’ Panel;
questionnaires have been circulated to the public.

Summary of the views received from the Workshops

5. Some 50 organisations have attended these workshops including:-

Parish and Town Councils
Amenity Societies
CABs
Residents’ Associations
Agents
RSLs/Housing Associations

6. A number of General issues were identified:-

the SEP is too long and too prescriptive;
many of the cross-cutting policies do little more than repeat Government Policy. Others are internally inconsistent;
the quality and legibility of the maps is poor;.
the timetable is too rushed;
there has been inadequate public involvement. More public meetings should have been arranged. 7. A number of Surrey-wide issues were identified:-
Surrey’s geographical position on the fringe of London with two major airports on its doorstep;
people being free to make choices about their lifestyle and location of their home;
environmental/Green Belt and infrastructure constraints; and
new ways of working. 8. The following Waverley issues were identified:-
Local Strategic Partnership:

9. The Local Strategic Partnership considered the South East Plan at its meeting on 15th March and concluded:-

a balance has to be struck between accepting necessary development and retaining character;
infrastructure, particularly health infrastructure should be provided from the outset;
Farnham may lose out on infrastructure funding if excluded from the Western Corridor Blackwater Valley sub-region;
the Plan should recognise infrastructure needs resulting from the indirect impact of development;
the SE region is too large and the sub-regions are too large and diverse for effective delivery. Citizens’ Panel

10. Surrey Social and Market Research (SSMR), an independent social research agency based at the University of Surrey carried out a consultation on the SEP with the Citizens’ Panel in February 2005. A copy of the SSMR Report is available in the Members’ Room.

11. The clear overall preference (61%) from the 503 respondents was for the lowest level of growth (25,500 dwellings p.a.). Views on the spatial distribution (continuing existing policies and sharper focus) were fairly evenly split, with a marginal (1%) preference for the sharper focussed distribution. These preferences were consistent across demographic sub-groups.

12. Over 50% of respondents identified the following areas of concern:-

Infrastructure should be provided prior to development taking place (77%)
There should be greater protection of character of towns and countryside (72%);
60% of development should be on previously developed land (64%)
District Councils should have control over growth (60%).

13. The following concerns was identified by between 30% and 50% of respondents:-

Jobs/housing should have control over growth (49%);
Growth areas may absorb resources for roads and services (37%)

14. There were a number of differences across the demographic sub groups, the most significant of which were that fewer of those aged 35-44 but more aged 60+ viewed prior provision of infrastructure as a major concern and more female than male respondents viewed the protection of the urban and rural landscape as a major concern.

15. Amongst the other concerns:-

74% were concerned about the development of the Green Belt in the London Fringe;
62% were concerned that development in the London Fringe would put pressures on road and rail infrastructure;
56% of respondents felt that the growth areas in the WCBV would become very large urban areas;
49% felt that the proposals in the SEP might lead to the loss of open countryside between Farnham and Aldershot;
32% were concerned that the SEP proposals might result in the administrative division of Waverley;
68% were concerned about how waste from the growth in population will be handled; and, significantly
75% were concerned that SEERA may not take local views into account.

Questionnaires

16. At the time of writing 22 responses to the questionnaires had been received. 13 responses were from Waverley residents and 8 were from groups or from people living outside Waverley. One respondent did not leave an address. The responses from these questionnaires largely reflect the views of the Citizens’ Panel. There was a clear overall preference for the lowest level of growth (25,500 dwellings p.a.). Respondents were split equally between preferences for continuing existing policies and sharper focus. However, the 32,000 dwellings p.a. with a sharper focus option also scored highly, being only one point behind.

17. The issues which gave greatest cause for concern (in order) were:-

infrastructure should be provided before development takes place;
SEERA is unlikely to take any notice of local views;
District Councils should have control over growth;
60% of development should be on previously developed land;
there should be greater protection of the character of the countryside and towns;
growth will put pressures on road and rail in the London Fringe area;
in the London Fringe area, there will be development in the Green Belt and areas of countryside beyond;

18. Other issues included:-

jobs and housing need to be developed at the same time;
concern about how waste from the growth in population will be dealt with;
growth areas in WCBV sub-region will become very large urban areas;
SEP proposals may result in the administrative division of Waverley.

19. The results of any further responses will be reported orally.

Council: 22nd February 2005

20. On 22nd February the Council resolved:-

“The Council sees no benefits so far in Farnham, as part of Waverley, being included in the Western Corridor; and, unless during the process of consultation real benefits are revealed, the Council at this stage opposes the inclusion of Farnham and agrees to a special informal Council meeting on 28th February and a formal Council meeting to agree representations to SEERA on 12th April 2005.”

Informal Council: 28th February 2005

21. The key issues to arise from this meeting were:-

Views of the County Council

22. County Council Members have also given extensive consideration to the draft SEP. The County Council’s formal response will be considered by the County Executive on 29th March. A copy of the Officer report to the County Environment and Economy Select Committee of 16th March is attached at Annexe 1.

Officer Comment

23. Whilst there is much in the draft SEP that is should be supported (including the emphasis on ”sustainability” and the protection of suitably located industrial and commercial land), many of the policies are repetitive, others do little more than restate Government policies and others are internally inconsistent. Moreover, the legibility and quality of the maps is poor.

a) The Spatial Options

24. The spatial options proposed by SEERA are based on two different approaches: the first is based on a continuation of existing policy which aims to reduce development pressures in “hot spots” and boost economic development in growth/regeneration areas. The second promotes a ”sharper focus” on both areas of economic opportunity and regeneration. Alongside these are three levels of housing: 25,500, 28,000 and 32,000 dwellings per annum.

25. There is pressure from the Government and from the development industry for overall levels of new housing to be at the upper levels. Indeed the Regional Housing Strategy, published on the same date as the draft SEP, calls for at least 32,000 dwellings per annum.

26. Both the London Fringe and the Western Corridor Blackwater Valley sub-regions are identified as areas of economic potential and housing and other developments are higher in these areas under the “sharper focus” option.

27. Officers concur with the views of Surrey County Officers that the environmental and infrastructure implications of growth have not been adequately addressed, in particular the indirect implications for the residual or “in between areas” such as Waverley.

28. Other concerns of the county Council about the inadequate consideration of:-

Surrey’s geographical location;
people being free to make choices about their lifestyle and location of their home; and
the need to take more account of new ways of working/”smart growth”
reflect comments that have been made elsewhere (see para 7 above).

b) Green Belt

29. Officers are concerned at the proposed identification of the London Fringe area as an area for significant growth in the SEP, and the indirect adverse impact that this will have on areas like Waverley. The London Fringe, like Waverley, is largely Green Belt and has been the subject of restraint in national policy guidance and in both

strategic and local planning policy documents. The identification of Green Belt areas for significant growth represents a reversal of policies which have been consistently applied and well respected for over 50 years and would appear to be inconsistent with the objectives for Green Belts set out in PPG2 and with Policy CC9 of the draft SEP.

c) Infrastructure

30. The continuing pressure for development in urban areas in Waverley is giving cause for concern because infrastructure is already identified as being inadequate (see para 8b above). Officers share the view expressed by County officers that significant investment needs to be made to bring infrastructure up to present required levels and that infrastructure for new development should, normally, precede that development, including infrastructure required as an indirect consequence of development.

d) Delivery

31. The County Council’s concerns about the complex boundaries of the sub-regional areas not fitting with the existing delivery mechanisms is reflected in some of the concerns about separating the Farnham part of Waverley into the very large Western Corridor Blackwater Valley sub-region (see paras 8d and 10f above).

e) Density and type of development

32. The draft SEP proposes that 60% of all development across the region over the Plan period should take place on “brownfield” land. It also proposes that housing development should be at an average density of 40 dwellings per hectare. Members will be aware of the conclusion of the independent EiP panel (quoted in full in para 16 of the County report at Annexe 1). Whilst it may be appropriate that some suburban areas should accommodate higher densities because they have better accessibility to public transport, this should not be at the expense of their environmental quality. The draft SEP should give these points greater stress.

f) Town Centres

33. The Plan identifies a network of 51 town centres which are to be the focus of major retail, cultural, leisure and office development. Farnham (along with other similar sized historic centres) is the only centre in Waverley that has been included on this list. There is no hierarchy of these centres and this policy appears to be inconsistent with the policy which seeks to strengthen the viability of small market towns as “local hubs” and to protect and enhance their character. The SEP should address these points.

g) Affordable Housing

34. Policy H4 of the draft SEP has set an overall regional target of 25% of all new housing to be social rented accommodation and 10% – 15% other forms of affordable housing. Affordable housing supply cannot be tackled just by imposing a quantum % on developments of a certain size. Whilst the draft SEP recognises the important contribution “rural exception sites” can play in areas like Waverley, there needs to be a closer correlation between the draft SEP and the Regional Housing Strategy to promote the work of local authorities and housing associations.


Views of the Planning Policy Special Interest Group

35. The Planning Policy Special Interest Group considered these matters on 17th March. Members felt that, rather than comment on all matters, the Council’s views would be more forcibly put in a limited number of comments. The SIG’s views can be summarised as follows:-

i) Generally
36. Members also felt that affordable/”low cost” housing supply cannot be tackled simply by imposing a quantum % on developments of a certain size. Whilst the draft SEP recognises the important contribution “rural exception sites” can pay in areas like Waverley, Members felt that there needs to be a closer correlation between the draft SEP and the Regional Housing Strategy to promote the work of local authorities and housing associations.

Recommendation

It is recommended that the above points form the basis of the report to the Special Council Meeting on 12th April.



Background Papers (DoP&D)

SEERA: Consultation Draft South East Plan - January 2005
GOSE: Towards the South Regional Housing Strategy – January 2005



CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Peter Hartley Telephone: 01483 523297

E-mail: phartley@waverley.gov.uk

comms/executive/2004-05/470
42752