Agenda item

Review of the East Herts District Plan 2018


The Executive Member for Planning and Growth presented the Review of the East Herts District Plan recommendations. She said that the current District Plan was adopted in October 2018 and it was a requirement that it should be reviewed within five years of adoption. The planning department had carried out an assessment and concluded that it did need updating.


The Executive Member for Planning and Growth said the assessment looked at the consistency of the current plan with the National Planning Policy Framework and its engagement with the duty to co-operate. She said that a review was normally straightforward but that was currently not the case with significant uncertainty on proposed government reform of the planning systems, consultations on a new plan making system continuing and changes being implemented as part of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill going through Parliament. She said that whilst the department waited for clarity from the government and based on the assumption that a strong evidence base would still be required, the team would use the 12 months to update its evidence base and other preparatory work including a call for sites.

Councillor Glover-Ward proposed that the recommendations in the report be supported. Councillor Marlow seconded the proposal.


Councillor E Buckmaster said that the call for sites process would be crucial as previous mistakes had been made which had angered residents. He said that some urban expansions had caused issues in areas where residents warned it would happen and were now complaining that were not listened too. He said the review would be an opportunity for Members to ensure that the right developments were built in the right place because as the process continued, the options for Members narrowed considerably after statutory and legal requirements were met. He said that the Council owed it to residents that they were listening to them and not just following a process and could avoid problems in the future if the sites were chosen carefully.


Councillor Stowe noted that there would be a call for sites in 2024 to achieve a 33% increase in housing numbers. However, he said that there were sites that were put forward in 2018 that had been put on hold. He asked if assurances could be given to residents that current adopted sites would be progressed before other land was handed over. He requested that strategic sites were monitored in the future to pre-empt any issues.


Councillor Goldspink said she shared other Members concerns about an increased need for more houses and agreed that it was important to select sites carefully.


Councillor Glover-Ward said the 33% increase in housing numbers were calculated under different methodologies. The council’s housing need was greater than 839 houses and referred to page 30 in the District Plan which showed that its housing need was almost the same as the housing requirement under the standard methodology.


Councillor E Buckmaster said that would put into question the call for sites and questioned whether residents would understand the methodology.


Councillor Glover-Ward said that when the District Plan was updated, it would be valid for 15 years and would go up to 2040.


Councillor Wilson questioned the evidence base for the District Plan in 2018 as it was clear that mitigation had previously not happened. He said that a review of the plan was welcome to make it fit for purpose for all residents.


Councillor Estop said she thought that the council should make great efforts to explain planning strategies to residents as they emerge and explain the method of assessing how many new homes needed to be built. She said the council need to counter the anti-development attitude whilst demonstrating the benefits.


Councillor Clements asked about the reasoning behind the language in Appendix 2. He said that some said updated and some said  retained.


Councillor Glover-Ward said that it was based on the assessment that Officers had made an  assessment between the exact policy and changes made to planning law.


Councillor Deering said that he would like an answer to Councillor Stowe’s question about the call for sites and sites that had already been earmarked for development. He also asked to see a 12 month work programme for the Development Management Committee as it was apparent that some of its committees were being cancelled and questioned how applications could be taken forward in the time frame.


Councillor Glover-Ward responded and said that a planning authority could not force a private developer to build on land. She said that the HERT2 development should have been in development several years ago. She said it was difficult to provide a 12 month work programme for the Development Management Committee but could provide a three month programme but highlighted that some applications may slip to the next meeting if information was not supplied by applicants.


The motion to support the recommendations having been proposed and seconded was put to the meeting and upon a vote being taken, was declared CARRIED.


       RESOLVED – That (A) having assessed the East Herts District Plan 2018 in accordance with regulation 10A of The Town and Country Planning (Local Planning)(England)(Amendment) Regulations 2017, it is agreed that, in order that the Council can continue to fulfil its statutory duties, the District Plan needs updating;

(B) work commences during 2023/24 on updating       the technical studies needed to provide a robust evidence base to inform an update of the District Plan;

(C) a ‘Call for Sites’ is undertaken during 2023/24;

(D) the District Planning Executive Panel is   reconvened with membership drawn from the Executive in accordance with paragraph 8.5.2 of the Constitution;

(E) an engagement strategy is prepared which sets out the Council’s approach to consulting and engaging the community and stakeholders;

(F)  a further report on the detailed scope of the update and the timetable for its preparation is prepared at the earliest opportunity once the implications of the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) are better understood, the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill has received Royal Assent, and the statutory framework required to implement.


Supporting documents: