Recently, Farnham Councillor Carole Cockburn waded in during a Waverley meeting to make claims about the updating of the Local Plan. Claims that have been disputed repeatedly by others.
But this time, she was slapped down by a council planning officer, determined to set the record straight. The eagle eye of Clr Liz Townsend, the council’s Portfolio Holder for Planning, was watching the proceedings.
Chairing the meeting of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee, Cllr Cockburn repeated claims she had made many times that others believe do damage to Waverley’s existing crucial Local Plan Part 1 and are music to the ears of wannabe developers.
She has been arguing for months that Waverley’s blueprint for planning, which is now five years old and has to be updated, only needs a light touch and shouldn’t be re-written. This is despite advice from Government agencies and Barristers to the contrary.
Waverley Planning Officer Andrew Longley was updating members when he outlined progress on the scope of the Plan, consultations that would and are being held with stakeholders – and the “ambitious timescale” for producing the new document. The Full Council received the report yesterday October 3rd.
There would also be a full members’ briefing when key decisions must be made. Once a Draft LP1 was produced, scrutiny by members would follow, and parish and town councils consulted, followed by public consultation.
However, Cllr Cockburn was “not happy!” There would be huge consequences for the borough’s Neighbourhood Planning Groups, effectively forcing them to throw out existing Neighbourhood Plans and find new sites.
She told the meeting she was attending yet another Farnham Planning Appeal on October 12th, following two recent successful appeals. The council would have to defend the same old arguments.
“We have no five-year housing supply. We have no up-to-date housing figures no up-to-date documents, and everything will go forward on the tilted balance very difficult to defend. We have the rug completely pulled from under us.”
She said she objected to adding another 11 years to the existing Plan.
This takes the Local Plan to 2043; at that rate, Neighbourhood planning groups like Farnham’s will have to find sites for thousands, and I mean absolutely thousands of homes if they don’t, then Waverley Council will have to find them.
How quickly can you complete this and inform the neighbourhood plan teams what they need?
Here’s the response from Planning Officer Andrew Longley, which puts the record straight when he tells the chairman.
“You are completely wrong.”
The government’s new National Planning Policy Framework, which provides councils with the information on which to base their Local Plans, was due to have been published in April 2023. Authorities all over the country are still waiting!
The new Local Plan will:
- Be a borough-wide Local for the period 2023-43 (15 years from adoption).
- Incorporate strategic and non-strategic matters (combining elements of LPP1 & LPP2).
- Build on existing plans and evidence (keep new evidence focused and proportionate.)
- Start with a refreshed vision & objectives and test reasonable alternatives to deliver this (focus on the spatial strategy and, where possible, leave recently adopted Development Management policies alone if they are robust).
- Exclude Design Codes, which will be prepared in parallel as a Supplementary Plan or Supplementary Planning Document (depending on whether the planning reforms are implemented. Make the necessary strategic and non-strategic site allocations (unless the former can be adequately dealt with in Neighbourhood Plans and/or Supplementary Plans)
- Be succinct and visual in line with the Government’s proposed reforms, including greater use of digital technology & engagement.
- Consult on scope, vision & objectives – autumn 2023.
- Identification & assessment of spatial options – summer 2024.
- Consult on preferred options plan – summer 2025.
- Publish submission plan for consultation – spring 2026.
- Submit Plan for examination – Autumn 2026
- Adopt plan with main modifications – winter 2027.