To receive a briefing.
The PPM reported that the Local Plan was underpinned by an evidence base. To inform the evidence base, a number of studies were being undertaken, utilising consultants and in-house resources. These included a Strategic Flood Risk Assessment, and the North Deal Study which would link with the Dover Transportation Study. An open space/play area strategy, linked to the Green Infrastructure Strategy, would also be undertaken. The intention was that sites put forward for development would be tested against these and other plans to establish whether there was the infrastructure and viability to deliver them. The Senior Planner (Policy) added that there would be a review of the Council’s Heritage Strategy, and it was anticipated that the findings from a retail and town centre needs assessment would be ready by May. Members were advised that a Sustainability Appraisal and a Habitats Regulations Assessment of the Local Plan were being undertaken. A scoping report had already been completed and the key findings of this would be presented to the Group.
Mr Pat Sherratt referred to the major retail changes taking place in Dover, and whether the Local Plan would deal with issues such as over-intensification and flat conversions. The Senior Planner (Policy) confirmed that retail and leisure policies would be reviewed, with an expectation that they would be incorporated into the Local Plan. In response to Councillor Scales, the PPM advised that developing stand-alone flat conversion guidelines was not in the team’s current work programme as part of the Local Plan review. The Council would need to consider whether it wished to adopt the Government’s national space standards. It was recognised that there were gaps in the Council’s development management policies. These would be explored through workshops to which stakeholders/interested parties would be invited.
In response to a query about Neighbourhood Plans (NP), the Head of Regeneration and Development advised that they were a useful tool to understanding the planning issues for local communities. While these could be dealt with through the Local Plan process, the Council would support those towns and parishes that wanted to take a lead role by developing their own NPs. It should be borne in mind that the Council was required to include a housing allocation for each community in the Local Plan, and there would therefore be an expectation that local communities would ‘offer’ such allocations in their NPs.
Councillor N S Kenton questioned whether communities should bother to refresh existing NPs given that the rationale for doing them had been to gain funding through Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) legislation. The PPM advised that it was worth refreshing existing NPs. There was no clarity on the CIL as the government kept changing its mind. The current evidence was that the Section 106 system continued to work well, and there was no impetus to introduce the CIL due to disparities between northern and southern land values. The Brownfield Register was currently on the internet and would be looked at in parallel with the ‘call for sites’ exercise.
Mr Gareth Doodes expressed his enthusiasm for the regeneration of Dover town centre, and the importance of identifying what was trying to be achieved. The PPM advised that the town centre’s regeneration was an integral part of the Local Plan. A workshop would be held in June or July to seek out the views of people who lived and worked in Dover and what vision they had for the town.
In response to Councillor B Gardner, it was agreed that a meeting should be held with Planning Committee members to discuss the implications of a recent appeal that had questioned the Council’s 5-year housing land supply figures and been upheld. In response to Mr Ralph, the Head of Regeneration and Development advised that the Core Strategy contained a vision for Dover, Deal and Sandwich which would be the starting point for workshop discussions, to establish whether this vision held good or required changing. This vision would inform infrastructure requirements which would also be explored at the workshops.
It was agreed that the update be noted.