Agenda and minutes

Local Plan Project Advisory Group
Wednesday, 30th January, 2019 10.30 am

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    No. Item



    To receive any apologies for absence.


    It was noted that apologies for absence had been received from Councillors S F Bannister, D P Murphy and F J W Scales, and Mr Gareth Doodes (Dover College), Mr Mark Huntley (Megger Instruments Ltd) and Mr Richard Ralph (Sandwich Town Team).


    Appointment of Substitute Members

    To note appointments of Substitute Members.


    It was noted that, in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 4, Councillor M J Ovenden had been appointed as a substitute member for Councillor F J W Scales.


    Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 37 KB

    To receive any declarations of interest from Members in respect of business to be transacted on the agenda.


    It was noted that there were no declarations of interest.


    Terms of Reference pdf icon PDF 51 KB

    The Project Advisory Group’s Terms of Reference are attached for information only.


    The Group’s Terms of Reference were noted.


    Order of Business


    It was agreed that the order of business be varied in order to consider Agenda Item 7 (Update on Local Plan) as the first substantive item.


    Update on Local Plan pdf icon PDF 121 KB

    To receive the attached presentation.


    Members received a presentation on the process involved in updating the District’s Local Plan.  The Principal Policy Officer (PPO) advised that the first formal stage of the process involved gathering evidence and the preparation of a draft Local Plan for public consultation.  This would be carried out in line with the Council’s Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) which set out who would be consulted and how.  Representations and comments received during consultation would then inform the second stage of the process which involved preparing a version of the Plan for submission to the Secretary of State for final examination before its adoption by the Council. It was anticipated that the draft Plan would be finalised in December, presented to Cabinet and full Council in January 2020 and then published for a consultation period of eight weeks.  


    The PPO advised that the structure and content of the draft Plan was currently being considered, but it would include a number of strategic policies that set out an overall strategy for the pattern, scale and quality of development in the District.  It would also include a number of non-strategic policies dealing with issues such as transport and community facilities. The other major element of the Plan would be the allocation of sites for housing, employment, self-build, etc.  The allocation would include existing sites plus new ones put forward by the public or identified by Officers. 


    In response to Councillor J S Back, the PPO confirmed that settlement confines would be reviewed as part of the update.  Councillor B Gardner expressed concern that the process was being carried out in private without Member input or scrutiny.  In response, the Head of Regeneration and Development clarified that the Leadership Forum did not have decision-making powers but was a discussion forum that helped Officers evolve options and ideas.  Decision-making associated with the Local Plan process rested with the Portfolio Holder, supported by recommendations made by the PAG.  The PPO added that Officers were in the process of surveying potential sites to establish whether they were suitable.  Once completed, they would report their conclusions and make recommendations to the PAG. 


    Councillor Gardner maintained that there had been less Member input during this review.  Councillor N S Kenton agreed that there had previously been more Member input, with allocations having been changed as a result of Member and community contributions.   He was concerned that the proposed consultation timetable would not allow meaningful Member and community input.   He was of the view that many of the Council’s Planning policies hindered the ongoing sustainability of communities as they largely prohibited the building of houses in rural areas whereas he believed that such housing would help to support the survival of local shops and pubs. In summary, he thought that there was a need to examine how and why sites were being allocated. 


    In response to Councillor M J Ovenden, the Head of Regeneration and Development advised that sites in the existing Local Plan would be reconsidered and only rolled  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


    Landscape Character Assessment pdf icon PDF 855 KB

    To receive the attached presentation.


    Members received an update on the Landscape Character Assessment (LCA).  The PPO advised that the existing LCA had classified land outside the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) into twelve broad areas without consideration of the landscape condition of those areas. This time round the LCA was a much more comprehensive assessment, having taken the Council’s Principal Ecologist eight months to prepare.  The document’s purpose was to inform land-use planning by identifying and explaining the combination of elements and features that made the District’s landscapes distinctive.  The LCA was a working document which would be subject to ongoing review by Officers who were working with the IT team to get it online by the spring. 


    Councillor Kenton commented that the document was quite negative. He suggested that the LCA should indicate that development in the AONB was not ruled out per se but should be of high quality.  The Head of Regeneration and Development clarified that the LCA was not designed to make judgements on sites but rather to draw out what made one landscape different to another.  Its purpose was to enable a systematic and objective assessment to be made of a site.   This LCA was much more detailed than the previous document and, as a result, would be more useful.


    MrSherratt raised concerns about the number of trees that were being felled or left to die in the District’s urban areas, particularly those along the A20 Townwall Street.  The PPO agreed that measures needed to be taken to enhance the urban landscape, including ensuring that developers provided landscaping, planting, etc. in their proposals and maintained them.


    It was agreed to note the Landscape Character Assessment.


    Update on Open Space and Green Infrastructure Strategies pdf icon PDF 61 KB

    To receive the attached presentation.


    The PPO advised that consultants had been appointed to develop the Open Space and Green Infrastructure Strategies.  Mr Keith Gowland stated that he had known nothing about the meetings held with town and parish councils in January, and expressed disappointment that the Kent Association of Local Councils had not been informed given that it represented the majority of parish councils.  He also requested that parish councils be represented at the steering group meeting on 25 February. The PPO understood that the consultants had principally been responsible for organising the parish council meetings, but undertook to ask the Principal Infrastructure and Delivery Officer to contact Members to explain further.  She also undertook to ensure that invitations were sent to the towns and parishes for the Green Infrastructure Strategy workshop on 27 March. 


    It was agreed that clarification would be sought from the Principal Infrastructure and Delivery Officer regarding the arrangements for the town and parish council events.


    Update on Neighbourhood Plans

    To receive a verbal update.


    The PPO advised that Ash Parish Council was developing a Neighbourhood Plan, and had commissioned a report that would indicate their local housing need.  The report would be reviewed by the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) consultants and the findings reported to Cabinet.  A formal response would then be made to Ash.  The first workshop on the Dover Town Neighbourhood Plan had been held on 28 November and had been well attended. A neighbourhood planning training event for town and parish councils was being held in Sandwich the following weekend. 


    It was agreed that the update be noted. 


    Dates of Future Meetings

    To be advised.


    It was noted that there were no meeting dates available.

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