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THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

CABINET: 22ND JUNE, 2015

 

REFERENCE FROM PLANNING COMMITTEE: 4TH JUNE, 2015

 

VALE OF GLAMORGAN LOCAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN: REPORT OF CONSULTATION AND SUBMISSION FOR INDEPENDENT EXAMINATION (REF) -

 

Prior to consideration of the reference from Cabinet, Members of the Committee received a presentation on the Deposit Local Development Plan (DLDP) from Emma Reed, Operational Manager (Planning and Transportation Policy) which provided details in terms of the current position in LDP process, the consultation process and results, the alternative sites consultation process and results, focused and minor changes made to the draft plan and the next steps for the process.

 

Cabinet, on 1st June, 2015, was provided with an overview of the representations made to the Deposit Local Development Plan (DLDP) and the Alternative Sites consultations and was presented with an outline of the responses and main issues raised including whether focused changes were considered necessary in order to ensure that the Local Development Plan (LDP) was 'sound'.  Cabinet subsequently referred the report to Planning Committee for consideration.

 

Approval was also sought for the submission of the DLDP and the required accompanying documentation to the Welsh Government for Independent Examination in accordance with the requirements of the Town and Country Planning (Local Development Plan) (Wales) Regulations 2005. Finally, delegated powers were sought for the Operational Manager, Planning and Transportation Policy in consultation with the Managing Director and the Cabinet Member for Regeneration to agree potential changes to the LDP as part of the independent examination process in accordance with Welsh Government guidance.

 

Subject to Cabinet approval, the report would then be considered by Community Liaison Committee on 2 June, 2015, Planning Committee on 4 June, 2015 and Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment) on 16 June, 2015. Comments from these committees would then be considered by Cabinet on 22 June, 2015 and then referred to Full Council for final approval on 24 June, 2015.

 

The Council had a statutory duty to prepare a Local Development Plan and the statutory duties in this regard were 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'. LDPs had to be sound in terms of their content and the process by which they were produced.  The relevant guidance, 'Local Development Plans Wales' set out the tests of soundness which an LDP must meet in terms of procedure, consistency, coherence and effectiveness.

 

Cabinet was presented with a previous report on 7 October, 2013 which sought the endorsement of the DLDP and approval for a six week public consultation to be undertaken on the DLDP in accordance with the requirements of the Town and Country Planning (Local Development Plan) (Wales) Regulations 2005.  The six week formal public consultation on the DLDP took place between 8 November and 20 December, 2013 and a brief summary of consultation was set out in the report.  A more detailed outline was contained in Appendix 1 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 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 'Alternative Sites' and the Council was again required to undertake public consultation on the Alternative Sites to ascertain people's views.  It was noted that whilst the Regulations required the Council to undertake a public consultation on the Alternative Sites, the Council was not promoting the sites in any way.

 

The six week consultation exercise on the Alternative Sites took place between 20 March and 1 May, 2014 and the summary details were set out in the report and a more detailed outline on the Council's response to these representations was set out in Appendix 3 as attached to the Report.

 

 In total 3367 representations were received to the DLDP from 1328 organisations, bodies and individuals.  The majority of the representations received were site specific in that they either sought the inclusion of new sites not shown in the DLDP, objected to allocations in the DLDP or sought amendments to site boundaries or the uses of sites allocated in the DLDP.  Other representations sought a variety of changes to the DLDP including but not exclusively:

  • Amendments to policy wording or text to ensure compliance with Welsh Government guidance, to improve policy effectiveness or merely to reflect factual updates;
  • Mapping changes, in terms of accuracy and requests for amendments, deletions and additions; and
  • Clarification and requests for additional evidence in respect of supporting evidence and particular topic areas.

Of the 3367 representations raised, 2921 were objections, 291 were expressions of support and 155 provided general comments to the DLDP.  The responses resulted in the identification of 225 alternative sites of which 108 related to new alternative sites, 53 to the deletion of allocated sites, and 64 to amended sites.  Copies of the representations received could be found in the Alternative Sites Representations Register.  A summary of these together with the Council's response to individual representations could be found within the Deposit LDP Representations Summary and Responses Register attached at Appendix 2 to the report.

 

Consideration was given to the following main issues and were detailed in the report:

  • LDP Vision, Objectives and Strategy
  • Strategic Site:  Barry Waterfront
  • Strategic Site St Athan - Cardiff Airport Enterprise Zone
  • Housing Provision and Housing Sites
  • Gypsy and Travellers
  • Employment
  • Transport
  • Retail
  • Minerals
  • Waste Management
  • Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and other Infrastructure
  • Built and Natural Environment
  • Sustainability Appraisal/Strategic Environmental Assessment (SA/SEA) and Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA)
  • Delivery, Implementation and Measuring Success
  • Alternative Sites Consultation
  • Proposed Focused and Minor Changes
  • Housing Requirement Figure
  • Affordable Housing Policy MG 4
  • Land West of Swanbridge Road, Sully Policy MG 2 (46)
  • Land to the north and west of Darren Close, Cowbridge Policy MG 2 (20)
  • Land South of Junction 34 M4 Hensol Policy MG 9 (2)

Appendix 5 attached to the report provided a list of the main documentation that was required to be submitted to the Welsh Government and the Planning Inspectorate for Independent Examination.  This was considered to represent a range of material and evidence that was necessary to meet the relevant LDP tests of soundness and further supported and clarified policies in the Plan.

 

Upon submission of the DLDP and all relevant documentation to the Planning Inspectorate, 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 hearing.  After considering all of the evidence, the Inspector would prepare and issue a binding report on the DLDP that would set out amendments which must be made to the Plan by the Council prior to its formal adoption.  It was noted that the Inspector, not the Council, would consider whether any changes were appropriate to the Plan as a result of the consultation.  

 

In accordance with Welsh Government guidance and in order to enable the efficient and timely running of the examination, it was advised that measures be put in place to permit effective dialogue between the Independent Inspector and Council representatives.  It was therefore proposed that delegated powers were vested with the Operational Manager, Planning and Transportation Policy in consultation with the Managing Director and Cabinet Member for Regeneration in order that they could negotiate issues, agree amendments and respond to requests for further information as required by the Inspector during the examination process.

 

A Programme Officer had recently been appointed to manage the day to day arrangements and running of the examination process.  A Service Level Agreement with the Planning Inspectorate would be put in place which would come into effect once the LDP was submitted.  This would set out the steps each party will take to ensure an efficient examination and reporting process.

 

At the meeting the Cabinet Member for Regeneration commented that this plan was about building communities, not just about houses and that was why it focused on the jobs and infrastructure that sustained communities and the affordable housing that allowed local people to set up home in them. She stated that the Local Development Plan included proposals for job creation, maintaining community services and providing new transport infrastructure. This was the blueprint by which the Council would continue to regenerate all areas of the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

The Cabinet Member further commented that this was not a case for brevity, as we needed all the evidence to underpin our plan for examination. The Council aimed for comprehensive communication and engagement and as a result the two-stage consultation process reviewed just under 12,000 responses. Amendments had been made to the Deposit Local Development Plan and planning officers had undertaken significant further research and gathered additional supporting evidence for the Authority’s land use strategy.

 

The Cabinet Member for Regeneration concluded by giving thanks to the Operational Manager, Planning and Transportation Policy and her team, commenting that they had to cope with huge resource issues in completing this report but had managed to deliver at every point. She continued that they fully committed to the task with the aim of community engagement.

 

 Cabinet had resolved -

 

(1)    T H A T the responses to the Deposit Local Development Plan (DLDP) and Alternative Site representations as contained at Appendices 2 and 3 as referred to in the report, be approved.

 

(2)    T H A T the Focused and Minor Changes detailed at Appendix 4 as referred to in the report be approved for public consultation purposes, the results of which will be considered by the Inspector in due course.

 

(3)    T H A T the Deposit Local Development Plan (DLDP) together with the accompanying documentation be approved for submission to the Welsh Government and the Planning Inspectorate in accordance with the Town and Country Planning (Local Development Plan) (Wales) Regulations 2005.

 

(4)    T H A T delegated powers be granted to the Operational Manager, Planning and Transportation Policy in consultation with the Managing Director and Cabinet Member for Regeneration to negotiate issues, agree amendments and respond to requests for further information as required by the Inspector during the examination process.

 

(5)    T H A T the report be referred to Community Liaison Committee, Planning Committee and Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment) for consideration.

 

(6)    T H A T thanks be given to the Operational Manager, Planning and Transportation Policy and her team for all their hard work on producing this detailed report.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1)    To enable the Council to submit the DLDP and accompanying documentation including responses to the alternative sites consultation to the Welsh Government and the Planning Inspectorate in accordance with Regulation 22 of the Town and Country Planning (Local Development Plan) (Wales) Regulations 2005.

 

(2)    To enable the Council to undertake public consultation on the proposed Focused Changes concurrent with the submission of the DLDP to the Welsh Government and the Planning Inspectorate.

 

(3)    To enable the Council to submit the DLDP and accompanying documentation to the Welsh Government and to the Planning Inspectorate in accordance with Regulation 22 of the Town and Country Planning (Local Development Plan) (Wales) Regulations 2005.

 

(4)    To facilitate the efficient operation of the examination process, to avoid undue delay to the examination process and to ensure effective dialogue between the independent Inspector and the Council's representatives in accordance with Welsh Government guidance.

 

(5)    To obtain the views of these committees on the content of the report prior to further consideration by Cabinet and final approval by Council on 24 June, 2015.

 

(6)    To thank staff for all their hard work.

 

Following the presentation  and consideration of the reference questions and comments were raised as detailed below:

 

Question Response

A Member of the Committee expressed concern in relation to the projected housing figures within the DLDP and was of the view that they were incorrect, ignored the representations made in relation to the figures during the consultation period and was unconvinced that the number of houses within the Plan would be built in the Vale of Glamorgan during the period of the Plan.  

The Member also commended the officers for their work on a complex project.  


The Member also expressed concern in relation to the projected figures contained within the Plan in relation to new jobs.
The Operational Manager (Planning and Transportation Policy) thanked the Member for the recognition of the work carried out by the team and advised that the dwelling requirement figure of 7,399 was the 2011 household projection figures for the Vale of Glamorgan for 2011 - 2026 and this represented a starting point for housing projection figures in the Council.  

Furthermore, additional work had been carried out in relation to Economic Development to assess the impact of employment land allocations on the dwelling requirements and this work indicated that a significant number of dwellings, over the 7,399, would be required.  The figures also needed to take into account the need for affordable housing as currently the Vale of Glamorgan had a backlog.


Following the consultation process a higher flexibility allowance of 10% was factored into the projected figures.

Another Member also expressed concern in relation to housing figures contained within the DLDP and expressed the view that residents had raised objections yet the report only detailed the focused and minor changes and queried why the Land West of Swanbridge Road, Sully had now been included within the Plan’s housing supply rather than as a reserve site within the amended Plan.

 

The Member also expressed the view that Welsh Government did not acknowledge the land supply figures contained within the Plan as the Authority did not currently have an adopted Local Development Plan in place and expressed the view that the responses to the representations contained within Appendix 1 to the report was a broad brush approach. 
The Operational Manager (Planning and Transportation Policy) advised that of the 10,450 dwellings within the Plan, there were approximately 2,500 units for which no action had been taken and was of the view that the authority could deliver these units within the timescale of the Plan.  Appendix A to the report provided the details of the representations and responses for the consultation and confirmed that officers had considered every representation put forward and responded to all of them. 

The Operational Manager (Planning and Transportation Policy)advised that the Sully site had now been included within the housing supply, rather than being a reserve site, in order to provide certainty to the Plan.  


The Operational Manager for Development Control stated that although Welsh Government had introduced the TAN 1 the Authority needed to prove that it had a nominal housing availability study in order to have the DLDP adopted.
A Member expressed the view that the DLDP should have high aspirations for the road transport infrastructure in the Vale and queried how sustainable the figures for affordable housing were and that Section 106 contributions were dependent on the viability of housing developments.
The Operational Manager (Planning and Transportation Policy) advised that the DLDP was one of two significant Plans for the Authority, the other being the Local Transport Plan; and expressed the view that the DLDP included high aspirations for road and public transport schemes and the whole spectrum of transport development.  The Authority was restricted by regulations and at present it had neither the information nor finance to be able to prove that certain road transportation projects were deliverable within the life of the Plan, therefore was unable to include these projects in the DLDP. 

The levels for affordable housing had been increased in all areas of the Vale other than Barry, as a result of an additional viability study which indicated that there was enough monies within the developments to deliver the increased targets.  However, she stated that, if the market changed there was a clause in the policy which would enable the new viability information to be to submitted which could lead to levels of affordable housing being reduced; yet the aspiration and need was to achieve these levels of affordable housing.
A Member expressed the view that having reviewed the calculations and numerous factors on which the housing supply figures were based; they were reasonably satisfied with the figures contained within the DLDP.   
A Member expressed the view that the results of the consultation exercise were disappointing and was of the view that people may feel that their representations had been ignored, and furthermore they did not accept the projected housing figures contained within the DLDP and felt that it failed to address certain transportation infrastructure concerns such as by-pass issues and traffic ‘pinch points’ in the county.  They were also disappointed that the DLDP made so little reference to allotments. The Operational Manager (Planning and Transportation Policy) advised that there was still an opportunity for further comment on the Plan later in the year and she felt that the Plan was comprehensive in terms of infrastructure and that some of the allocated sites would also provide infrastructure as part of the developments.
A Member stated that allotments were important and requested that a comment be made to Cabinet about how the authority could improve the availability of allotments. The Operational Manager for Development Control stated that Policy MG7 within the DLDP included future proposals for allotments.

The Cabinet Member for Regeneration spoke with the permission of the Committee and stated that when the Plan was revisited it was in order to strengthen the evidence base in terms of the infrastructure, transport and education in order to make the Plan better fit with the LDP Strategy.  The level of consultation had been increased and approximately 12,000 responses had been received and there was an opportunity for further representations to be made to the Inspector.  The Cabinet Member advised that, if once the DLDP had been submitted to the Inspector, and they felt that anything had not been dealt with correctly, the Inspector could ask for further information from the Authority. It was her view that the DLDP was underpinned by a strong evidence base, however, if the Inspector considered that this evidence was not strong enough the Plan would be found not to be sound.  She expressed the view that she was happy with regards to the higher targets for affordable housing and stated that affordable housing was housing for local people.  

 

The Cabinet Member thanked the team for the work that they had put into developing the Plan particularly in terms of responding to the increased level of consultation.  It had been a huge task with massive resource issues, and she was very thankful for their hard work.  

 

With no further comments, it was

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the above comments be referred to Cabinet.

 

Reason for decision

 

To apprise Cabinet of Members comments on this matter, prior to its further consideration of the draft LDP and final approval by Council on 24th June, 2015.

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