Your Councillors

Agenda item

Maidstone Local Plan Review: Call for Sites Information Pack including a New Garden Communities Prospectus

Minutes:

Mr Rob Jarman, Head of Planning and Development, stated that the Call for Sites was a standard operational component of the Local Plan.  One of the four tests of soundness for the Local Plan at public examination was that it needed to be justified.  This meant that it needed to be an appropriate strategy that took into account all reasonable alternatives.  The Call for Sites therefore tested the availability and deliverability of sites.

 

Mrs Sarah Lee, Principal Planning Officer, explained that the information pack was designed to guide and frame submissions for the Call for Sites.  The document was technical in nature as it was aimed at developers and land owners.  The Garden Communities Prospectus had been included as it was anticipated that these would be more complex to deliver and therefore required more detailed submissions.  While the role of a Garden Communities approach in areas of high housing need was included in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the principles were promoted by Central Government, it was crucial that all options were considered equally.

 

Councillors McKay and Newton spoke on this item as Visiting Members.

 

The Committee commented that:

 

·  A review of the hierarchy of settlements was required, although it was acknowledged that this needed to be timed appropriately. 

 

·  The wording on page 336 was to be amended to:

“As part of the Local Plan Review, we will review the hierarchy of settlements by looking at available services and facilities.  In the adopted Local Plan, the current hierarchy is as follows;”

 

·  Superfluous pictures, in sections where text was appropriate to convey information, should be removed. 

 

·  The second paragraph in “5 – Local Plan Review Spatial Strategy” on page 338 was to be edited to restrict the commentary about the dispersed approach.

 

·  The press release accompanying the Call for Sites needed to be carefully worded to ensure that stakeholders clearly understood that the Call for Sites was the beginning of a process and that all options were open at this stage. 

 

·  If significant changes to the Call for Sites Information Pack were required, then an extraordinary Strategic Planning, Sustainability and Transportation Committee meeting was to be convened.

In response to questions from the Committee, Officers stated that:

 

·  A submission form was to be completed by landowners.  Appendix 2 demonstrated the criteria that would be used by Officers to assess the submissions.

 

·  The urgent update was a visual representation of the components that the growth could take, such as densification of the town centre, urban extensions of large settlements, urban renewal, village extensions, new settlements and small countryside sites.  It was possible to adjust or omit the diagrams and visuals, as appropriate.

 

·  The environmental constraints section was included in the document to assist landowners and developers, as it provided information regarding material planning factors that needed to be addressed as part of a submission.

 

·  The Council was able to take a proactive stance with the Call for Sites, as sites under Council ownership were eligible as part of the Call for Sites.

RESOLVED: That:

 

1.  Whilst having due regard to Members comments, the Head of Planning and Development be granted delegated authority to refine the Call for Sites Information Pack and proceed with the Call for Sites as proposed.

 

2.  The criteria in the Site Assessment Form, attached as Appendix 2, be agreed for the evaluation of potential sites in the Strategic Land Availability Assessment.

Voting: Unanimous

 

Supporting documents: