To note the contents of the MHCLG consultation on proposed measures to support housing delivery, economic recovery, and public service infrastructure.
Mrs Stevens presented the item to Members and drew attention to information provided in the Agenda Update Sheet. This included an addendum to the Appendix which provided the consultation questions and responses.
In respect of the response to 17.1 it should read:
‘Yes. It is considered that public service infrastructure proposals should embed sustainable design, and this should include measures to promote sustainable modes of transport via the provision of cycle routes, secure cycle parking and electric car charging points within the proposed permitted developments.’
Mrs Stevens clarified that the recommendation in the report requested that the Committee ‘note’ the contents of the consultation, however the recommendation should be as per paragraph 5.1 of the report; to note the consultation, and to endorse and provide comments on the proposed response. Mrs Stevens further clarified that the report set out the broad proposals and appendix 1 detailed the proposed response to the consultation. Mrs Stevens added that she intended to utilise the response to question 22, to clarify concerns regarding broadening permitted development rights primarily in relation to the changes of use of business units to residential units.
Officers responded to Members’ comments and questions:
Mrs Stevens confirmed that Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) was not generally payable where new homes were permitted under prior approval, Mrs Stevens clarified that CIL was payable on conversions but a vacant building credit could be used to off-set the payment, which was under review. With regards to waste drainage this is not a matter which could be considered under prior approval, but in circumstances in which there was an issue with this going to a designated site and into the harbour, where that was likely to have a significant effect, the permitted development rules would not apply. This was similar with recreational disturbance, as that also may have a significant impact on a designated site. With regards to the fourteen days for consultation, Mrs Stevens confirmed that she agreed that this was a short period of time, but had given a positive response as it was acceptable in terms of officers having to meet the timeframe for determining the application, the consultation was clear that it would only apply where pre-application discussions had taken place. In relation to education, Mrs Stevens agreed that changes had taken place with provision in regards to the number of academies, which may result in further planning applications or permitted development but was not likely to increase matters significantly. With regards to facilities for well-being, Mrs Stevens advised that school sports fields were afforded protection, but having a Neighbourhood Plan would not ensure the protection of other facilities. In relation to the cumulative impact of planning, Mrs Stevens confirmed that this would be included with the responses. With regards to the loss of GP surgeries, Mrs Stevens advised that these now fell into Class E and unless there was a condition which limited the use for premises only to be used as a doctors surgery, the use could be altered under the proposed measures, which was a concern related to the loss of community facilities. Mrs Stevens confirmed that she did not know if the permitted development rights would apply in areas of outstanding natural beauty, but research on this matter would be required and that those landscapes should not be subjected to the proposed permitted rights changes could be added to the responses. In terms of housing mix, or the provision of affordable houses, Mrs Stevens confirmed that there would be no control on this matter as a result of the prior approvals. On the loss of employment buildings and increase of residential dwellings leading to the necessity for residents to commute, Mrs Stevens agreed this may be a consequence and may further result in having to provide more employment in other locations, and this would be emphasised within the response. With regards to building regulations, Mrs Stevens confirmed they were separate to planning and highlighted that there was a new proposal to introduce the consideration of fire risks within prior approvals. The Government had made this amendment as a condition of general permitted development rights for some of the existing permitted rights. However, planning officers would not have the expertise to consider this matter and would need to revert to building control for support. Mrs Stevens added that previously there had been no consideration for the structural ability of buildings to withstand extra storeys for example, which was reliant on building regulations, and it would be similar for changing office blocks to residential accommodation. Mrs Stevens added that the onus would be on the developer to demonstrate the safety of building in terms of fire risk.
Mr Whitty advised that the proposals may become law in April or May 2021. Mr Witty also confirmed that any permitted development rights would negate the consideration of any policy or Neighbourhood Plan and would have an impact on how the Local Plan was taken forward for example in relation to the provision of employment land. Mr Whitty further confirmed that the comments of the Committee could be summarised following the meeting into the response to the consultation, which was also confirmed by Mrs Stevens. Mr Whitty added that a draft would be prepared and forwarded to Members for further comment, with the final draft delegated to officers prior to submission. Mr Whitty advised against submitting a comment regarding the limit of fourteen days consultation period for applications, which was agreed.
Following a vote by show of hands, Miss Golding confirmed that Members had agreed the recommendation at 5.1 of the report, subject to the revision process outlined by Mr. Whitty above, with final revision delegated to Officers.