The Leader submitted a report seeking approval of publication of a draft Sustainability Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) for consultation. She said this SPD represented one of a suite of many actions the Council was taking to provide guidance for developers and to add detail to the policies in the District Plan. In addition, a new body had been set up recently, the Hertfordshire Climate Change Sustainability Policy Group. This group was being chaired by this authority’s Executive Member for Environmental Sustainability, Councillor McAndrew. In response to the Leader’s invitation to speak, Councillor McAndrew said he would reserve his comments until after the debate on this item.
Councillor Crystall said the SPD emphasised a holistic approach regarding matters such as landscaping. However, from his experience at meetings of the Development Management Committee, there could sometimes be a disconnect in the process. He asked whether the SPD was an opportunity to review the process Officers used in assessing applications.
At the invitation of the Leader, the Head of Planning and Building Control said the starting point was the District Plan. This document provided more information for applicants to use, and set out a checklist of expectations. A great deal depended on what type of application was being considered by the Development Management Committee. This document set out the expectation as to the work which would have been done in relation to each application. The SPD should ensure applicants were considering these matters in their proposals.
The Planning Policy Service Manager agreed that it depended on the nature and type of application, but the key point was that the SPD focused the minds of applicants, Officers and Members on the checklist of expectations.
The Executive Member for Communities congratulated Officers on the production of this excellent document.
Councillor Stowe asked whether the new SPD would reinforce the Council’s ability to require design features, not only for new builds, but in respect of applications generally.
The Head of Planning and Building Control said it was still necessary to rely on the District Plan. The SPD was intended to encourage compliance with policy requirements.
The Executive Member for Environmental Sustainability expressed his thanks to the Principal Planning Officer for her excellent work on the SPD. The document brought clarity to Officers and Members of the Development Management Committee regarding environmentally sustainable aspects of design. The document would evolve over time when the District Plan was reviewed, and was a good starting point.
Councillor Haysey proposed and Councillor McAndrew seconded, a motion to support the recommendations in the report. The motion, on being put to the meeting, and a vote taken, was declared CARRIED.
RESOLVED - to agree that (A) the Sustainability Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), as detailed in Appendix A to the report, be agreed and published for a four-week period of public consultation; and
(B) in accordance with the Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004 it has been determined that a Strategic Environmental Assessment of the emerging Sustainability SPD is not required as it is unlikely to have significant environmental effects beyond the District Plan policies.