Local Plan timetable reviewed and work outlined to produce a sound plan
Cabinet Committee: Local plan met on Thursday 10 August to discuss the extension of the Local Development Scheme. The Local Development Scheme (LDS) is the timetable for producing a Local Plan and it is good practice to review it at various stages to ensure it remains realistic.
It’s important to review to ensure that the plan which is taken to Regulation 19 – the next stage for producing a Local Plan - is the version that is ready to be assessed by a Planning Inspector. Several external factors can affect the timetable and production of a Local Plan. The meeting heard that there were several factors which led to the recommendation of revising the LDS.
In summary, the main reasons for the revised timetable are:
This is a complex national issue affecting 74 local authorities across the country – all local authorities must find a solution to achieving nutrient neutrality. The Legislation is relatively new and has been put in place to ensure that residential development does not have an adverse impact on protected waterways. To add to the complexity, Winchester is one of 26 local authorities across the country that needs to address both phosphates and nitrates. Site promoters and developers have been asked to demonstrate how they would address nutrients for allocated sites. Funding bids to upgrade the Winchester Waste Water Treatment facilities have been agreed by Partnership for South Hampshire (PfSH) and submitted to Government – but critical funding has not yet been released. This remains a key area of work, with other agencies, and a satisfactory solution is needed before the plan can progress to the next stage.
Town and Employment Study
To support the high street and the local economy, these studies help to understand the local economy better. The last studies took place before Covid 19 and much has changed in that time. The timing of the studies is critical to allow enough time following the pandemic for the economy to settle, so that fair assessment is undertaken.
Strategic Transport Assessment
This transport modelling work is provided by Hampshire County Council’s trading arm, but the model needs reassessing to take account of new travel trends post-pandemic. The timetable for completion is longer than originally anticipated. It’s a very important part of the evidence base as traffic and travel is a key concern for people. It’s important that the County Council is given the necessary time to complete this thoroughly.
Response to Regulation 18 Consultation
Engagement and consultation is a very important part of developing the plan. The response rate to Regulation 18 was extremely high and people were highly engaged in the process. This is something that is welcomed and it’s important that each response – some of which were in-depth and technical – is given proper consideration and assessment. Therefore, additional time has been given to ensure these are thoroughly reviewed and that the next steps policies reflect the feedback that has been given.
Statement of Community Involvement (SCI)
Public engagement of the Local Plan to date has been recognised by the RTPI as ‘going above and beyond what was expected.’ This approach will be continued throughout the process of producing the plan. SCIs should be revised every 5 years and therefore time will be taken this Autumn to ensure that it is updated and relevant to achieve the widest possible engagement before moving to the Regulation 19 stage of the plan. This will be revised and consulted on during Autumn 2023
The revised timetable has been sense checked with the Planning Advisory Service (PAS) for an impartial assessment to ensure that enough time has been allowed to prepare a sound plan.
The meeting also addressed why the risk in revising the timetable is low and why the council remains in a strong position to oppose unwanted development:
- The council’s current Local Plan covers the period to 2031 so the council will not be without a local plan with the revised timetable.
- The policies within the current adopted plan remain in-date and aligned to National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)
- The council maintains and can demonstrate a five-year housing supply
Following the meeting Councillor Jackie Porter, Cabinet Member for Place and the Local Plan said:
‘This revised timetable shows that we are on track to produce a sound and evidence-based Local Plan, despite the uncertainties around national policies and legislation. This robust approach means that we can achieve the best outcome for our district – future development that is managed, responsible and in keeping with its surroundings. Our Local Plan is not developed in isolation, and we are rightly giving proper consideration of the feedback we have received to date and I now look forward to working towards the next stage of the plan and continuing our engagement with local communities.’
Part 1 and part 2 of the meeting can be watched back on the council's YouTube channel. The revised timetable means that Regulation 19 consultation will take place in Summer/Autumn 2024, with adoption of the plan in 2025.