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Matter which the Chairman has decided is urgent by reason of the need to inform Cabinet prior to consideration of the Local Development Plan by Council on 24th June, 2015


THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

CABINET: 22ND JUNE, 2015

REFERENCE FROM SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT): 16TH JUNE, 2015

THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN LOCAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN: DEPOSIT DRAFT PLAN 2011- 2026 - REPORT OF CONSULTATION AND SUBMISSION FOR INDEPENDENT EXAMINATION (REF) -

Following introductions, the Chairman commenced by advising all present that the opportunity to make representations on the report had been afforded to Members of the public.  Four requests to speak had been received to date and thus the order of proceedings would be a presentation on the report by the Operational Manager for Planning and Transportation Policy, followed by comments from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, representations from the four members of the public, elected members (not members of the Committee) and finally Members of the Committee.

 

The Operational Manager in presenting the report advised the Committee of the LDP process to date and stated that the Council had a statutory duty to prepare a Local Development Plan.  The duties for which as being as set out in Part 6 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 which required that an LDP be made subject to independent examination to determine whether it was sound.

 

In setting the context the Operational Manager further advised that in October 2013 Cabinet endorsement had been agreed for the approval of the draft Local Development Plan to be part of a six week consultation in accordance with the Town and Country Planning Regulations 2005.  The six week formal public consultation had taken place between 8th November, 2013 and 20th December, 2013.  A brief summary of the consultation was set out in the report.  A more detailed outline was contained at Appendix 1 which was attached to the report in the Deposit Local Development Plan Consultation Summary Report. As well as representations to policies, paragraphs and supporting evidence, the DLDP consultation had generated representations from individuals, groups and organisations that sought the inclusion of new sites as well as the deletion or amendment of allocated sites.   Collectively, these site specific amendments were termed œAlternative sites†and the Council was again required to undertake public consultation on the alternative sites to ascertain people’s views.   This six week consultation took place between 20th March 2014 and 1st May 2014.

 

 

Cabinet had subsequently considered the report of the consultation and submission for independent examination at its meeting on 1st June, 2015 and had referred that report to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration.  As a result of the Deposit Plan consultation over 3,000 representations had been received with the main issues being highlighted as strategy, housing provision and sites, gypsy and travellers, employment, transport, built and natural environment.  Following the Alternative Sites consultation over 8,000 representations were received with 4286 representations objecting to the alternative site proposals and 3691 in support of the alternative sites and 245 representations received of general comments.   A copy of all the representations were available for inspection at the meeting and could be found in the Appendix 3 register. The documents were also available on the Council’s website and available for inspection at the Council’s Civic and Docks offices.

 

In considering the need for changes to the DLDP, the responses to the consultation received and the issues raised the Council had to give due regard to the relevant Welsh Government and Planning Inspectorate Guidance contained within the Local Development Plan Manual and Preparing for Submission Guidance for Local Planning Authorities July 2014 which aimed to assist Local Planning Authorities preparing to submit LDPs for examination. 

 

In submitting the DLDP to the Welsh Government and the Planning Inspectorate, it was recognised that if a Local Authority had undertaken the plan preparation process in an appropriate manner and in accordance with the relevant guidance, there should be no need to change the DLDP.  Furthermore, any Focused Changes should only be made if they were considered necessary to ensure that the LDP was sound.  The guidance clearly stated that changes should be avoided, and if they were necessary to ensure the Plan was sound, should be kept to a minimum.  If Focused Changes were to be proposed they would also need to be formally advertised in the relevant local press and be subject to Sustainability Appraisal and Strategic Environment Assessment.

 

The Focused Changes that had been prepared could be found in the Appendix 4 document with the major changes (although not exhaustive) contained within the document being noted as housing requirement figure and flexibility, reserve site, changes to housing and employment allocations, additional economic study, affordable housing provision and minerals paper. 

 

In referring to the housing requirement figure the Operational Manager advised that the use of official Population and Household projections had been further clarified by Welsh Government in a letter dated 10th April, 2014 where the Minister for Housing and Regeneration stated at the end of her letter ˜For the avoidance of any future doubt, local planning authorities must seek to provide for the level of housing required as the result of the analysis of all relevant sources of evidence rather than relying solely on the Welsh Government’s household projections.’

 

Additionally, representations were made that the Housing Requirement figure for the Vale of Glamorgan should take account of a number of other factors such as the effect of the employment Strategy of the LDP as well as other objectives in order to deliver the Plan's Strategy and Vision.

 

As a result of these representations and the need for more evidence, further economic work (Appendix 6) was commissioned to provide greater information on the impacts of employment land allocations on the dwelling requirement. This work provided additional information on the likely number of jobs to be created during the Plan period. Combining both local and strategic employment the land allocations could yield some 7,610 to 10,610 new jobs. The local jobs element and associated dwelling requirement was assumed to be contained within the local Population and Household Projections. However, the new jobs generated as a result of the Strategic employment land allocation and the resulting additional households would not be included within the local Population and Household Projections. Therefore the economic impact of the Council's Strategic Employment land allocations need to be considered and these could generate a need for some 1082 to 1602 additional dwellings.

 

Having considered all of these factors, the evidence base and matters raised within the representations, it had been considered that the overall housing land bank should remain as contained in the DLDP at 10,450. It was however, proposed to lower the actual Housing Requirement Figure to 9500 from 9950 in the DLDP to take account of the latest evidence in respect of the Population and Housing Projections together with the latest economic and affordable housing data. Therefore, a 10% rather than 5% flexibility allowance was added to the 9500 making a total (unchanged) provision of land for 10450 dwellings to 2026.

 

This change ensured that the Housing Requirement Figure took account of the latest Population and Household Projections as well as the latest economic forecasts with an allowance to assist the affordable housing backlog and recognised the role the Council to play in the wider region. In addition a 10% flexibility allowance had been added to the figure giving a total housing supply of 10450.

 

In conclusion, the Operational Manager informed Committee of the next steps in the process advising that any comments received from the Community Liaison Committee, Planning Committee and the Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment) would be reported to Cabinet on 22nd June, 2015 in order that Cabinet could then refer the matter to Full Council by 24th June, 2015. 

 

If approved the DLDP would then be submitted for independent examination and an independent inspector would be appointed on behalf of the Welsh Government to examine the Plan.  The examination process was likely to commence in Autumn 2015 with an exploratory meeting ahead of any hearings.  After considering all of the evidence the Inspector would then prepare and issue a binding report on the DLDP that would set out amendments which would be required to be made to the Plan by the Council prior to its formal adoption. 

 

Members were further informed that it would be the Inspector not the Council who would consider whether any changes were appropriate to the Plan as a result of the consultation that had been undertaken.  However, it was important to note that having considered the issues raised from the current consultation process a number of focused changes that had been proposed would also require further consultation which subject to Council approval would commence in July 2015 for six weeks. 

 

In summing up the Operational Manager stated that one of the main aims of the DLDP was to develop a sustainable land use planning and transportation framework for the Vale of Glamorgan and as such the adoption of the LDP for the Vale of Glamorgan would be one of the main service targets for the Planning and Transportation Division over the next few years. 

 

Following the above the Chairman sought clarification from the Operational Manager as to the position with regard to current planning applications that were already in the system and to the reference in paragraph 53 to the percentages of affordable properties and the use of the term upper target. 

 

The Operational Manager advised that of the housing sites allocated in Policy MG 2 that 3794 units were approved or subject to a section 106 legal agreement; 1499 units were at pre application stage or an outline planning application was under consideration leaving only some 2500 units with no formal applications or enquiries on them.  As there were still some 11 years left of the Plan period the Operational Manager advised that these units still had plenty of time to be delivered by 2026.

 

In respect of the use of the word œUpper†in paragraph 53, the Operational Manager suggested to the Chairman that the word be removed as it could mislead the true intention of the Affordable Housing Policy which was that Affordable Housing was a requirement on every residential scheme. The Operational Manager confirmed that the Affordable Housing Policy as attached at Appendix 4 was clear and that the targets as outlined in the Report were there to be met rather than be an upper target.

 

Having considered the response the Chairman sought the Committees agreement to request that Cabinet ensure that paragraph 53 be clarified in line with the officers response, which was duly accepted.

 

The Cabinet Member with the portfolio for Regeneration stated that the current Administration had requested that the evidence base for the DLDP be strengthened to make it a better fit with the Strategy and to include infrastructure requirements as well as enhancements to the consultation and engagement process.  Affordable housing was also about housing for local people and the evidence had informed the LDP in that there was a huge backlog for demand.  The Cabinet Member also took the opportunity to record her thanks to the Planning and Transportation Department Team advising that they had undertaken considerable work as a result of the current Administration’s requests and they were completed under a backdrop of resource challenges.  In total over 12,000 representations had been received and handled by the section. 

 

The Chairman then asked in turn that the members come forward to make their representations to the Committee it being noted that the meeting was not a public meeting but a meeting held in public.  Councillor S.T. Thomas, representing Dinas Powys Community Council that Dinas Powys Community Council had undertaken their own consultation with local citizens expressing their concerns about the proposed developments for the area and the current lack of infrastructure within the area.  He stated that the figures for the number of housing proposed were inaccurate and although housing was necessary other community facilities were also important.  He was concerned as to whether the houses referred to in the report were actually needed and that their location was considered inappropriate. In particular Cllr Thomas referred to the proposed developments at Cross Common and Ardwyn and that the sites had no infrastructure for such proposals.  There was also not enough reference in his view to public transport in the draft Local Development Plan.

 

Mr. D. Lewis, a local resident of the area around cross common road expressed his concerns although being in the main of a personal nature he was concerned as to the impact of the proposed developments and their effects on the local community.  He too concurred with Cllr Thomas about the current lack of infrastructure and in his view the Vale was generally considered a green site area.  Dinas Powys was a semi-rural village and as such the personality of the community would be lost as a result of the number of developments proposed.  On a personal note he stated that one of the very reasons he had purchased his property was due to the green field’s area in the area where he lived and in his view the draft LDP was more focussed on new developments as opposed to providing facilities for existing residents. 

 

Mr. R. Harrod, constituent of the Dinas Powys area stated that his concerns related to the 300 extra houses proposed and the impact on the level of traffic.  There had also recently been an issue in relation to the main sewer at Cog Moors that had affected the Barry Road area which had been an ongoing issue for some time.  Currently, significant amounts of traffic were regularly delayed from one end of Dinas Powys to the other due to continuing tail backs into Cardiff and with the increase in the developments proposed were likely to be more substantial.  The need for a by-pass he stated was paramount and he urged the authority to rethink their decision.

 

Councillor C.P. Franks, an Elected Member of the Vale of Glamorgan Council was present and advised that he was representing the Dinas Powys Community Council.  He stated that the Community Council had taken the matter seriously by employing its own consultant and referred to the amount of delays, the increase in population numbers and the congestion currently in the area irrespective of the proposed developments which would see significant increases.  Although the Community Council was not opposed to the provision of affordable housing, the amount being reported in their view was ˜simply guesswork’ and he urged that the authority seriously reconsidered the plan and the impact on Dinas Powys.  He requested that a review of the allocation of housing be undertaken in light of the resident’s concerns. 

 

In referring to the infrastructure the Operational Manager advised that the Scrutiny Committee itself through its Traffic Management Task and Finish Group which had recognised some of the issues in relation to Dinas Powys and had made a number of recommendations and consideration was to be given to looking at bus priority routes as well as having identified through the plan that a number of junctions were either at or near capacity. 

 

With regard to the development proposed at Cross Common Road specific mention was made to a current planning application with the Operational Manager advising that Mr Lewis could make representations to the application which would be considered by the Planning Committee.

 

In referring to the issue of green fields and brown fields, it was noted that the Council did not have an endless supply of brown field sites and with regard to the proposed new junction in the area this had been recognised in the plan and would be dealt with through the LDP and the planning application process. 

 

In response to the query regarding the Dinas Powys by-pass it was noted that the Council did not have an up to date design or all the permissions or land at this stage that would be required.  The Council was however, making progress considering  the list of traffic junctions that needed improvements. With regard to public transport the Operational Manager believed in her view that this had been sufficiently dealt and covered within the report and the LDP.

 

The Cabinet Member with permission to speak in response advised that the plan itself was a plan to guide policy up to the year 2026 and made particular reference to public transport by referring to the 303/304 service from Bridgend to Cardiff which also went via Cardiff Bay and Llandough Hospital and had been a newly created service.   With regard to the consultation exercises that had been undertaken the Cabinet Member referred to the issue in relation to the Lower St. Cyres School site where a mixed site development had been put forward, where previously it had been allocated solely as housing development.  However, following community consultation it had been rejected in favour of a mixed development site. Being aware that congestion was an issue facing all Local Authorities, the Cabinet Member stated that the plan was not only about housing but also about employment and transport opportunities with specific reference to the strategic needs of the community.

 

A number of Members of the Committee considered that the market tended to control the situation and that the Council’s Planning Committee was trying to manage the issue as best as it could.  It was apparent that many areas within the Vale had been subject to extra developments and their outlooks had consequently changed.  Congestion was also a factor that was determined by economic and social solutions.  In the main it was suggested that limiting the use of the car although difficult would be the way forward.  A member stated that some members of the public may consider that their  comments are not always taken into account but that it is the role of the politician to balance the conflicting views and in particular to deliver a Local Development Plan that meets the needs of the communities. 

 

One of the main priorities of the plan it was stated was to ensure sustainable measures were in place.  In referring to the housing numbers as detailed in the report, a couple of Members suggested that these figures were too high. The Operational Manager in response advised that the latest household projection  numbers referred to in the report had been published by Welsh Government in 2014 and had been the starting point for the latest plan figures. A considerable amount of work had been undertaken in order to agree a target figure of 9,500 plus 10%, however, it was important to note that as previously advised 3,794 houses had already been approved and another 1,499 were in the system with the total being 5,293 that already had or were being considered for planning permission.   In discussing the housing figures reference was made to paragraph 53 of the cabinet report which referred to the target being up to a figure. Members considered that this should be more specific and the word upper be removed. It was further noted that the housing figures had taken into account the economic assessment that had been carried out, with a 10% flexibility added to the figure as requested by Welsh Government.

 

Some members raised concerns with regard to the rural villages and that community facilities were not available to support sustainable development in such areas.  A Member queried the amount of building to be undertaken in the rural areas in view of the fact that the job opportunities were more closely aligned to the Cardiff area.  The Operational Manager stated that the aim of the strategy was to also provide opportunities for developments to happen outside the south east  zone to encourage villages to develop services to be protected and to provide local affordable housing in those areas.

 

The Green links bus service was also available to assist rural villages. The 320/321 bus service Llantwit Major, Cowbridge and Pontyclun had recently received a runner up transport partnership award for its sustainable development and support to the community.  The Operational Manager urged all local villages to communicate with the Council and to discuss their travel requirements and needs.. 

 

The Operational Manager advised that in undertaking the development of the Plan all of the towns and villages in the Vale of Glamorgan had been assessed and then  ranked for how sustainable they were. Consideration was given in the Sustainable Settlements Paper which was a background paper to the LDP about whether the areas had a village shop, village pub or a village hall and what transport and employment opportunities were close by.  

 

A Member made specific reference to the area known as Darren Farm which  had not been part of the original plan at the time for 145 houses for the reasons that were now being portrayed for a development of 300 houses on the site. The Cabinet Member advised that the allocation included  a school, open spaces and a road for future sustainability purposes. 

 

Following a query as to the number of homeless people in the Vale statistical information was requested to be forwarded to all Members of the Committee for their information.

 

Having considered the report, the representations made and the views of the Committee, a recommendation was put forward to reject the plan with a view to a significant reduction in the number of houses. However, this was not carried and it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the resolutions of Cabinet be accepted but with a request from the Committee that the word œupper†in referring to the affordable housing target in paragraph 53 be removed from the Cabinet report, in order to better reflect the fact that affordable housing was an expected requirement of all new housing developments, unless viability issues could be clearly established.

 

Reasons for recommendation

 

To ensure that the Council could submit a Deposit LDP to the independent Planning Inspector for consideration bearing in mind the evidence base that currently existed and the risk of not having an LDP, which would be an issue for the Council and to ensure that the affordable housing target was not referenced as an upper target. 

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