Miss Chivers presented the item to Members and drew attention to the information provided in the Update Sheet.
Mr Ayling then responded to Member’s comments and questions. He explained that the calculation of housing need was undertaken with reference to Government standard methodology but this not directly applicable to the Chichester plan area. It required some interpretation and in this regard advice had been taken from specialist consultants, and was considered in line with national guidance. Housing density would also be considered as appropriate, as an option which was open to the Council. Consultation would support reflection, would not necessarily result in resourcing issues, and would lead to an improved final document.
Mr Ayling further explained with reference to the Infrastructure planning and delivery, there was a mechanism in place for understanding specific infrastructure needs associated with each development, which involved appropriate consultations with all necessary agencies for example Southern Water, Highways England West Sussex County Council as the education authority. He added that it would be advantageous to bring forward a plan quickly, to support the coordination and understanding of the requirements. In the intervening time, it was vital to determine applications. There are a number of matters to consider over the coming months; most importantly the extent to which the Council has a housing supply, and the expectation was that there would be just under four years supply from 15 July onwards. This would change continuously as individual sites came forward, delivery rates altered with the impact of the wider economy and restrictions resulting from Coronavirus, and new applications submitted. The gap between actual housing supply and the required five year housing supply was a significant matter, and it was within the Council’s gift to revise the draft document as necessary.
Mr Ayling confirmed that the West Sussex Cycling Design Guide at paragraph 6.2 criteria 8 could be included in the document. With regards to ecosystem services, a policy approach adopted by the South Downs National Park Authority, focused on the standards of construction, and biodiversity net gain he suggested that whilst the draft document consultation process was on-going, these matters could be given further consideration by officers within the Chichester context.
Mr Ayling further confirmed that deleting Para 6.2 criteria 7 reference to DM34 Open Space, Sport and Recreation cited in the emerging Local Plan would be appropriate, to ensure developers understood the current status with regards to development management proposals. On the question of consultation, the document was non-statutory and as such the Council could take the process forward as it considered appropriate. Therefore it was suggested that it would be undertaken as an on-line focused consultation, with consultation arrangements utilising the current database of statutory consultees, individuals and organisations who have previously expressed an interest in planning policy and who will receive the standard letter to confirm the consultation was underway with hard copies provided on request. He added that it would the decision of each Parish Council to conclude how it would disseminate information regarding the consultation. On the question referencing Southern Water, each application received would be assessed in accordance with advice obtained from each statutory body and the draft document would not alter that process.
Mr Whitty further commented that he did not believe there was an issue with the document existing in the public realm in regards to how developers would utilise it to question how they might submit applications and developers were always likely to query how any document may be interpreted. He explained that the benefit of the document would be in terms of consistency in dealing with applications and within the Council’s policy framework would allow a focus on areas which were considered important. It would also have the advantage of defending sites which did not fit the criteria. Without this document, a Planning Inspector would review an application only in relation to the harm against the need. The document will have undergone a consultation process and allow officers to demonstrate to an Inspector how the Council were seeking to address issues in a sustainable manner.
Mr Ayling further explained that with regards to off-site infrastructure, the document was concerned with delivery in the short-term with relevant attributes, but there was also an awareness that applications would need to be determined if delivery of those attributes were not resolved. Therefore it was important that off-site infrastructure was included within the document. He also confirmed that in paragraph 4.6, the word ‘will’ would be altered to ‘may’.
Mr Oakley proposed that in paragraph 6.2.4 the word ‘will’ should also be altered to ‘may’ which was seconded by Mr Barrett and Mr Potter. In a vote Members did not agree to alter the word as proposed.
In a vote the Planning Committee agreed to approve the revised recommendations:
a) Approve the draft Interim Policy Statement (IPS) for Housing, as amended by the schedule of proposed amendments and any other changes as agreed at Committee, for development management purposes to be used to assess relevant planning applications with immediate effect; and
b) Approve the publication of the draft IPS, as amended by the schedule of proposed amendments and any other changes as agreed at Committee, for a period of 4 weeks consultation.
Recommendation to Approve both recommendations.