Agenda item

Overview of the Initial Findings of the Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (HELAA)

To receive the attached report and presentation (previously circulated to the meeting held on 17 October 2019), and to consider the findings in relation to the following:

 

·         Ringwould

·         Kingsdown

·         Tilmanstone

·         Shepherdswell

·         Eythorne and Elvington

·         Eastry

·         East Studdal (Sutton)

·         East Langdon

·         Ripple

Minutes:

The Policy and Projects Manager (PPM) introduced the report which detailed the initial findings of the Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (HELAA), the aim of which was to identify a future supply of land that was suitable, available and achievable for housing and economic development over the Local Plan period.   With individual sites classified as green, amber or red according to their suitability for development, the settlements covered in the report were as follows:

 

·         Ringwould

·         Kingsdown

·         Tilmanstone

·         Shepherdswell

·         Eythorne and Elvington

·         Eastry

·         East Studdal (Sutton)

·         East Langdon

·         Ripple

    

Tilmanstone

 

Members were advised that Quinn Estates had put forward three sites in Tilmanstone, including an area of land adjacent to the public house.  Proportionality would be the key issue for Tilmanstone.

 

Shepherdswell with Coldred

 

Shepherdswell with Coldred was considered to be a sustainable settlement, and large areas of land had been put forward.  SHE007 had been put forward at the time of the last HELAA but its development was not supported by Officers.  Whilst SHE004 had potential, possibly linked with SHE001, it was unlikely that all of it would be developed.   The development of the red part of SHE001 was not supported as it was an exposed site.  In respect of SHE004, the Head of Planning, Regeneration and Development (HPRD) advised that the North Downs Way footpath would be incorporated into the development and properly integrated into the scheme’s design.  Councillor N S Kenton commented that SHE003 was a problematic site which was unlikely to be developed unless access issues could be overcome.

 

Eythorne and Elvington

 

Eythorne and Elvington were considered good locations in master planning terms, with employment opportunities nearby.  However, it was recognised that the development of the larger sites would probably be controversial as they would coalesce the two settlements which considered themselves distinct. To address this, it was anticipated that there would be extensive consultation with local residents.  Eythorne and Elvington had existing social issues and new development could help to create a better socio-economic balance. Councillor Kenton agreed with Mr Jeffrey Loffman that the development of these sites might be a step too far, and community consultation would be key to determining how many of the sites came forward.   For the time being the sites to the west of the main settlement should remain ‘amber’.

 

Eastry

 

The Group was advised that the settlement had a good range of facilities and services.  Councillor E A Biggs suggested that some of the former industrial sites like Ovendens should be retained and re-purposed to provide small industrial units so as to allow people to work near home.  Councillor Kenton agreed that start-up employment units were a good idea.  The PPM advised that accessibility at Ovendens was an issue.  Whilst an Economic Land Availability Assessment was yet to be done, it was known that there was, in fact, an over-supply of employment land.  

 

In response to queries, Councillor Kenton commented that until recently Eastry had had a GP surgery.  However, the NHS was now focusing on surgery hubs and Sandwich was now the local hub and a GP training practice. That said, Eastry had a pharmacy which was looking to extend its range of services.  The HPRD added that healthcare providers were the most challenging group to deal with because of their high staff turnover and changing business plans.   

 

The PPM advised that EAS010 was the former Eastry Hospital site which already had planning permission.  However, there were viability issues with the site which had led to an increase in the number of dwellings proposed.   An access road could be created as part of EAS002 or EAS10 which would benefit both sites, relieve pressure on the junction and benefit the village as a whole.   There could be ransom issues, but the ideal scenario would be to include the access road in the Masterplan to ensure it came forward in one way or another. 

 

East Studdal (Sutton)

 

Members were advised that sites SUT002, SUT005 and SUT007 were low-key, low- scale developments.

 

Langdon

 

The PPM confirmed that there would need to be significant landscaping for LAN007  due to its size and exposed nature and, as a result of this, the site had been dismissed. 

 

Ripple

 

The PPM advised that, whilst a number of sites in Ripple had been put forward, none had been identified.  As a location without services or facilities, sustainability and conservation areas had proved problematic. 

 

The PPM advised that the new timetable for the review of the Local Plan would be presented to Cabinet on 2 December, following which Officers would hold meetings with the towns and parishes in the New Year. 

 

In response to Councillor Biggs, the Principal Infrastructure Planner advised that the consultants were undertaking a review of the Council’s strategies, including the open space strategy.  Councillor Kenton added that any area already designated as public open space would stay as it is.  In respect of affordable housing, he advised that developers were required to provide a level of affordable housing commensurate with the size of the whole development.  It was recognised that some developers had attempted to circumvent the Council’s affordable housing policy by bringing schemes forward in phases.  The PPM advised that the Council was unable to apply national room size standards as these had not been adopted.  However, Officers were looking to incorporate national space standards into the revised Local Plan.  The HPRD added that external spaces, such as gardens and balconies, might also be added.  In addition, the Council might want to have a policy applying to flat conversions.  She clarified that permitted development conversions from office to residential were excluded from government guidelines, although discussions had taken place about these.

 

It was agreed: (a) That EAS002 and EAS010 should be explored further.

 

                        (b) That the proposals for other sites be noted.

 

(Councillor N S Kenton declared an Other Significant Interest in EAS002 by reason that he rented this area of land, and left the Chamber during consideration of this site)