To receive a report from the Head of Policy & Spatial Planning presenting the Council’s draft Local Plan, which outlines the planning and development policies for the borough
The Committee received a report from the Head of Policy & Spatial Planning on the Council’s draft Local Plan, which combined the existing Core Strategy and Development Management Local Plan.
Noting the proposed policy regarding betting and pay day loan shops, it was asked what weight this would have. Officers explained that the current rules meant that under permitted development rights, shops could convert to betting or pay day loan shops without seeking planning permission. The proposed Local Plan would allow the Council to consider the wider impact on an area, particularly in terms of the concentration of such shops. The Committee was also informed that the Government had announced its intention to revise the change of use rules and remove the permitted development rights to control the increase in betting and pay day loan shops. Without a change in national policy, the Council could explore the use of an Article 4 direction to remove the permitted development rights, and the inclusion of the policy in the draft Local Plan would give more weight to such a direction.
A member of the public asked if the draft Plan included a policy on double-storey basements. Officers explained that the policies monitoring subterranean basements had been included in the Plan as despite there being very few in the borough so far, the Council was keen to prevent them becoming an issue. RBKC had a similar policy which was only just coming into effect and had set a precedent by the Planning Inspectorate so officers were confident that LBHF’s policy would be judged sound. This was key because the only evidence supporting the policy was the potential disruption caused by construction traffic, as structural stability was not a relevant consideration in planning policy.
Some members questioned the length of the draft Local Plan, arguing that at 296 pages it could be off-putting for residents and highlighting that the National Planning Policy Framework was just 50 pages long. Officers explained that the draft Local Plan was an amalgamation of two documents and that the total page number had been decreased. It was also a reflection of the nature of the document that it needed to be sufficiently robust to be a useful tool in development management, and so the detail was necessary. Pages such as the local context and descriptions of the area were important as they framed the policies contained in the Plan and were necessary if the document was to be considered sound. The Committee also asked about public consultation and officers explained that a wide range of activity had been undertaken, including press releases, the Council news site, direct mailings to 1,200 interested people and organisations and workshops for Housing Associations and the Youth Council.
Members asked about the draft Local Plan’s definition of affordable housing as being for households earning up to £60,000 and how this figure had been arrived at. Officers explained that this figure complied with Government guidance and the income limit was in line with that set by the Mayor of London in the London Plan, with which the borough’s Local Plans had to conform.
Concern was expressed regarding the relatively weak policies regarding air quality in the draft Local Plan. Officers explained that as a key priority, air quality was covered in more detail in supplementary guidance which sat below the Local Plan and had around 30 pages of requirements and objectives.
Members argued that residents needed to be involved in the design of developments at an earlier stage. Officers explained that such policies were beyond the scope of the draft Local Plan and were a matter for the Development Management policy. The Leader reported that the administration was of the view that residents were excluded too early on in the process and would be reviewing the Design Review Panel to increase its influence and power with new independent members.
That the report be noted.