Agenda item

Local Plan Update - Next Steps

To receive a verbal update.



The Head of Place, Property and Regeneration (NDC) and the Planning Manager (TDC) gave a detailed and informative joint slide presentation updating on the Local Plan and the next steps going forward.


The slide presentation comprised of the following:


Comprehensive details on the New Plan-making Process and Timeframes Questions to prompt discussion on the proposed Plan preparation process, when to start the process, how much preparation work to do in advance of that start date, Visioning and Engagement. 


The questions are listed below:


·       What are Members ambitions in terms of the speed of plan preparation?

·       Is there an acceptance of risk with completing early work?

·       What are Members thoughts on being a front-runner?

·       Do we seek to lobby around the transitional arrangements?

·       How do we set up Governance and meaningful Member involvement in the process?

·       Would Members welcome thematic Working Groups?


The presentation given by the Planning Manager (TDC) related to the first four points set out above.


The Senior Planning Policy Officer (TDC) explained the term “front-runner” and the benefits and risks linked to that.  The Government has indicated that from November 2024, 10 Authorities could act as front-runners to be the first Authorities to drive forward a new Plan and would benefit from support from Central Government. 


During the discussion the Senior Planning Policy Officer (TDC) responded to questions/concerns raised by the Committee.


Councillor Leather asked if any of the work could commence straight away on the new Plan, even if not a front-runner and how soon will we be told we can start the new Plan?  Members were advised that there was an expectation that expressions of interest to be a front-runner would be invited in the Spring.  It had been indicated that a letter will be sent to all Councils inviting them to put themselves forward as a front-runner, but the timing of that needs to sit with Policy or guidance coming out confirming that process. It was highlighted to Members that there would potentially be value in lobbying, not only around being a front-runner but also transitional arrangements.  A discussion around the work we can and should be getting on with in advance of the formal commencement of the new plan making system to be brought back to this Committee.


Further comments made included:


Opportunities for Social and Affordable Housing – would there be any scope in the new Local Plan to be more prescriptive for smaller houses, shared housing etc.  The Planning Policy Officer (TDC) advised there is scope to be more forceful, Officers have been successful in negotiating smaller units on sites, but it is more challenging for the smaller sites with 5 dwellings or less.  This is a matter to be looked at and how we best deliver for communities.


The Planning Manager (TDC) said Officers would welcome direction from the Committee as to what is needed to be brought forward to the March meeting or whether an intervening meeting is required. 


Councillor Prowse gave his support to moving forward as quickly as possible because the issues faced are not dependant on the shape of the Local Plan.  He stated there was a need for a new vision in terms of development for North Devon.  All Councillors need to be involved from the start of this exercise.


Councillor Walker mentioned how important it is to look at housing mix and agreed for work to start immediately.


Following further discussion, it was proposed by Councillor James, seconded by Councillor Hackett that the item be noted.   No vote was taken at this stage.


The Planning Manager (TDC) presented the final two points listed above.  Governance has already been set up and there is a signed Agreement on how the Committee will function.  The Committee were asked to give their views on whether they would prefer thematic Working Groups to deal with a particular individual themes.


Councillor Knight referred to Sustainable Development which he said does impact on the aspirations to be carbon zero by 2050.   He suggested that each Councils Climate Working Group meet as soon as possible prior to the next meeting because it is vitally important to concentrate on being carbon zero by 2050.


The preference expressed by the Committee was for Thematic Working Groups to be set up as soon as possible.


The Head of Place, Property and Regeneration (NDC) presented a slide entitled Visioning and gave comprehensive details on the following questions:


·       How would Members like to go about visioning?

·       Do Members recognise the need to revisit the previous visioning work?

·       What did you like about the previous approach(es) to visioning?  What would you do differently?

·       How would you like to go about it this time around?

·       How do we ensure that we derive a vision for norther Devon that is aspirational, transformational and locally distinctive?


The Committee were in agreement for visioning events and for all Members of both Councils to be included.  


The Head of Place, Property and Regeneration advised that Workshops will be held with all Members being invited, following which to then look at setting up Working Groups for certain issues.


The final slide presented was in relation to Engagement.  The questions were as follows:


·       When and where do we (re)launch the plan-making project to communities and stakeholders?

·       Do we retain the People and Place Branding? Or does it need a refresh or a re-brand?

·       What are Member’s perspectives on early community and stakeholder engagement?

·       At what stage do we start to engage with individual local communities?

·       How do we engage and align with other frameworks such as One Northern Devon and other strategies such as the Cultural Strategy?

·       How do we ensure that there is corporate buy-in and that the plan both reflects and shapes Council priorities?


The Head of Place, Property and Regeneration (NDC) explained that the purpose of the slide was to get feedback from Members on:


·       How they would like Officers to engage with communities and stakeholders and at what stage.  


·       Whether to retain the People and Place Branding or to revisit.


Further comments received from the Committee included:


  • That the People and Place Branding be retained.


  • Recognition of the importance of community engagement but the challenge of apathy and a sense that views are not considered. Importance of managing expectations given that the plan is at an early stage.


  • The importance of involving organisations such as One Northern Devon and other such Groups.


  • Whether there is the scope for a Citizens Assembly.


It was proposed by Councillor Hicks, seconded by Councillor Lane that –


  • The report be noted.
  • There is support for carrying out consultation.
  • Individual Working Groups to be set up for important themes.

(Vote:  For – Unanimous)