11. Local Plan Consultation
The item was introduced by the Director: Development of Place and the Strategic City Planning Manager who provided a summary of responses received to the local plan review consultation March – May 2019. It was highlighted that the web-link in the published paper would take Members to all of the comments that had been submitted during the consultation. This was a 260 page document and which was why it had not been included in the meeting papers.
A discussion was had about the report the Council had received from the Independent Planning Inspectors after the review of the Joint Spatial Plan (JSP) had taken place. It was said that the report detailed that there were some suggested inadequacies in the Plan. Officers said that the four Local Authorities (LAs) were giving due consideration to this report. Members had asked if this would have some bearing on the Local Plan’s completion. Officers said yes it was likely this would have an impact on the Local Plan and until they have clarity the process would be delayed. It was said that the Council had received lots of responses to the consultation process and will progress this process but it would not be at the pace that had previously been envisaged. It was stated that there were certain strategic figures that need to be known before the Local Plan can be implemented.
The following points were discussed with further with Members:
It was said that the previous report the Commission had received from officers hadn’t indicated there was likely to be any problems however it was now clear that the Inspectors were not happy with what had been submitted. Officers said they had understood when the Inquiry took place that they would have the opportunity to clearly explain the Plan to the Inspector. However, it became clear when the Inquiry took place that the Inspector had issues with the Plan. Officers had thought that the issues could be addressed but that wasn’t the case.
A Member said that he had two main concerns about this: 1) the knock-on effects of a delay to completing the JSP. 2) delays in putting policies in to place. These he said were policies that are desperately needed, for example, the climate emergency, tall buildings and advertising. This was in his view a threat to the future of city.
Members wanted to know when the plan would now be up-dated. Officers said this had yet to be decided but how to progress this needed to be decided formally by the four LAs because this was a plan that all four had signed up to. Officers highlighted that the same challenges were still there i.e. transport and the numbers of homes yet to be built. They said the delay to the Local Plan was likely be about 12-18 months. However, in the meantime they could still continue to progress sustainability plans. Also the consultation process had raised a variety of issues that they were looking into.
Officers then summarised some of the key points of interest that had been raised during the consultation process. They emphasised that consultations such as this one are a ‘moment in time’, for example, over half of the responses were connected to Stoke Lodge Open Space because this was a big issue for some people at that particular time. Other key issues raised were:
· the potential relocation of Stapleton Cricket Club (29 against and 27 for)
· changes in green belt land in South Bristol
· Yew Tree Farm
· Proposed development at College Road, Fishponds.
· Climate Emergency, conservation and environmental issues also come out strongly it was said.
Officers also added that:
· Student accommodation often comes up as a concern
· Comments about outdoor advertising had been timely and valid
· They still needed to scope and clarify some policies but they will ensure Members are up to speed on everything before they take the work on to the next stage. The Members agreed they would like officers to keep them well-informed of further developments.
The Members then asked the following questions:
· The Joint Spatial Plan (JSP) and whether the Inspectors been critical of the release of green-belt land? Was there more information available on this point? The Member said he asked this because he had thought that the release of green belt land was also included in the Local Plan. Officers said yes the formal release of land from Green Belt designation is a matter for the Local Plan and delay to the formal process for examination and adoption of the review of the Local Plan will delay any change to Green Belt designation.
Members said they thought it was concerning how few people responded to Council consultations especially ones as important as this. Local groups it was said were very helpful but they don’t always exist and it was suggested that Officers should perhaps consult more with scrutiny in future. Another Member agreed and said that regrettably many people only find out what’s going on when out it’s too late to influence things.
The Chair said that regrettably there were not any Cabinet Members in attendance at the meeting. Another Member commented that it was his understanding that Cabinet Members should be in attendance to answer the Commissions questions because it shouldn’t be left to Officers to answer on their behalf. After a brief discussion it was agreed that the Chair would write to the relevant Cabinet Members on behalf of the Commission and ask them to attend scrutiny meetings where possible in future. ACTION: Chair to write to the relevant Cabinet Members on behalf of the Commission.