Decision Maker: Cabinet
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: Yes
The Cabinet was invited to approve the commencement of consultation upon the Draft Local Plan.
The Cabinet Member for Managed Growth introduced the report and in doing so referenced why there was the need to review the Local Plan; namely because of development opportunities around HS2 Interchange, to deal with a legal challenge to the housing requirement in the Solihull Local Plan (SLP) and the need to address the housing shortage in the wider housing market. Details of each of these issues were set out in the report.
In presenting the report the Cabinet Member addressed some of the points made by Cllr Bell and Mr Eames in their deputations. The Cabinet Member also set the context for the review around a number of themes, which he detailed in his presentation, but in summary included:
· Housing need and numbers;
· The Effect of HS2 and UKC;
· Green Infrastructure;
· Duty to Cooperate;
· The Form of Development
· The Need to Manage the HS2 Construction Phase and Other Major Developments;
· Brownfield Land/Sites and the Issue of Viability;
· Housing Density; and
· Social Housing and Housing Tenure.
In concluding his presentation the Cabinet Member emphasised the Council’s willingness to work with and engage with local communities in taking forward the draft local plan.
On receiving the report Members welcomed the approach taken in developing the draft Local Plan. A number of questions were asked which were responded to, which in summary included:
· With regard to setting strategic objectives clarification was sought over the sequential approach taken. The Cabinet Member for Managed Growth referred to paragraphs 95 and 97 of the draft Local Plan which explained this, but essentially the approach taken allowed a hierarchy to be adopted to ensure that first preference was given to appropriate sites not in the Green Belt, and only then sites in the Green Belt;
· In responding to a question regarding how growth and development were managed the Cabinet Member referred to paragraph 105 of the Plan which set out the scope, issues and options for accommodating growth;
· In relation to questions around the Housing Market Area (HMA) and the need to accommodate 37,000 dwellings, the Cabinet Member commented that he and Officers had worked hard with other local authorities to find a reasonable solution, while mitigating the impact on Solihull, but fulfilling the Council’s duty to cooperate. It was felt that Solihull’s contribution of 2,000 dwellings was fair and sustainable and would stand up to scrutiny by the Planning Inspectorate. However, it was acknowledged that this figure had yet to be agreed;
· With regard to the consultation process it was noted that this was non statutory, but the Council wanted to engage with stakeholders as this was integral to developing a robust Local Plan. The Director of Managed Growth also confirmed the Green Belt Assessment Review would be published at the same time as the draft Local Plan;
· Members recognised that in an ideal world Green Belt would not be developed upon, but given the size of housing need, development was needed, but assurance were sought that Birmingham City Council would be looking to utilise their Green Belt. The Cabinet Member assured Cabinet that Birmingham City were looking to develop their Green Belt sites as well;
· On the issue of transport connectivity, particularly in rural areas, the Cabinet Member acknowledged that this was an important issue and referenced the fact that through the WMCA and the Devolution Deal large sums of money had been secured for investment in connectivity issues. The Cabinet Member for Transport and Highways drew Members attention to page 101 of the Plan which focussed on accessibility. He also drew attention to the fact that he had recently agreed the Solihull Connected Delivery Plan;
· In respect of other infrastructure issues, it was confirmed that the Clinical Commissioning Group where consultees to the Plan;
· There was general concern over the hatching on some of the plans contained in the Plan and the Cabinet Member confirmed that these would be looked at before the document was finally released for consultation;
· The Cabinet Member confirmed that in relation to a point about having defendable boundaries against future development creep, that was something which would be included in the Plan;
· The issue of the NEC car parks was raised and their future use. The Cabinet Member referenced page 65 of the Plan where this issue among others effecting the NEC had been picked up; and
· In relation to Neighbourhood Plans and whether they were critical to this process, Members were advised that to date none of the proposed Neighbourhood Plans had reached completion or adoption. The Director of Managed Growth commented that it was the Council who were responsible for preparing the Local Plan and assessing need, Neighbourhood Plans could assist in this process, but Neighbourhood Plans had to conform to the Local Plan.
In conclusion all Members welcomed the draft Local Plan, felt it was important that the Council meet its moral obligation to tackle housing need, and looked forward to engaging with the local community and receiving their views on solutions/alternative options to meet housing need. Members also wished to thank Officers for all their hard work in pulling the draft Local Plan together.
(i) That the Draft Local Plan be agreed subject to an eight week consultation period; and
(ii) That the Director for Managed Growth, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Managed Growth be given delegated authority to make changes to the document prior to it being published for consultation.
Report author: Gary Palmer
Publication date: 14/11/2016
Date of decision: 10/11/2016
Decided at meeting: 10/11/2016 - Cabinet
Effective from: 19/11/2016