Agenda item

Local Plan process and background papers update including Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP) update - verbal report/ presentation


  1. The PPTL introduced the Officers presentation and outlined the current areas of work for the Planning Policy Team, Next stages for submission of the Local plan, Background Papers and Neighbourhood Plan update.


Current Areas of Work – Local Plan


The PPTL advised that the main focus and priority for Officers was the Local Plan, with Officers reviewing representations and creating a Schedule of proposed modifications for consideration through the examination. The next stage required the combining of the 5 Schedules into a single Schedule, as required for submission. Accompanying the submission would be a track changed version of the Local Plan which would consolidate the proposed additional modifications. The PPTL advised that Officers were reviewing the challenges and undertaking early high level work to pre-emptively prepare responses. Officers were also in the process of preparing the statement of common grounds, which would aid the Planning Inspector to narrow down key areas for examination.


The PPTL advised the purpose of the background papers was to bring together the evidence to justify the reasoning behind the topic area, they would also help clarify matters for the Planning Inspector. Some of the background papers were required for legal purposes to meet legal tests i.e. demonstrate compliance with the duty to co-operate. The background papers, consulted in at Regulation 18 and or 19 stages,  included(not exhaustive) ; approach to setting the housing target, distribution of growth, approach to employment, infrastructure delivery plans, green infrastructure, site selection methodology, housing construction standards, approach to renewable energy, coastal change and management, historic impact assessment, small growth village boundary review, strategic policy identification, D2C compliance statement, AGS study update, equalities statement, soundness/legal  check sheets, site assessment booklets and examination library. The PPTL advised majority of work on these background papers was in progress to bring them up to date.


The PPTL noted the submission preparation process which included the appointment of a programme officer (pending submission) whose role would be to act as the co-ordinator the between the Council and the Examiner. This would ensure that the Planning Inspector remained impartial. Further, Officers would be expected to set up an examination library; an online resource where all submission documents, evidence, supporting documents, correspondence and examination matters would be published.



Other Work


In additional to Local Plan work, Officers continued to work on Nutrient Neutrality, fulfil monitoring requirements (5 year HLS, Housing flow return, and AMR 2022/2023) which required months of dedicated Officer work, provide pre application advise, maintain brownfield register, Self-Built Register, Norfolk Strategic Framework including GIRAMS and Neighbourhood Plan Support, which has been significant time resource this year to date.


Neighbourhood Plans


The PPTL advised that it had been a very busy year so far with Neighbourhood Plans, with two plans at examination stage – Blakeney & Holt. Blakeney was in late stages of examination with work actively ongoing to implement the 14 recommendations for modification following independent review, with a further 3 incorporated that are required by Officers, all of which would be subject to referendum in due course. 


With regards Holt, an examiners report was expected within the coming weeks. Significant work had been undertaken to slim down, refocus and reappraise the Holt Plan to ensure it be more bespoke in its local purpose.


The PPTL noted that the Wells-next-the-sea Neighbourhood Plan was progressing well, with a consultation undertaken summer-time last year on regulation 14. Since, detailed feedback had been provided by Officers, with HRA/ SEA screening reports out for statutory consultation due to end 27th February 2023. Following that the required Decision notices on whether further Habitats Assessment and a Strategic Environmental Assessment are required will be issued.


It was noted that progress with the Stalham Neighbourhood Plan was thought to slow, but was still ongoing. Cley-next-the-sea would be launching their initial consultation on 8th March, and it was understood that work was no longer progressing in relation to Overstrand and Mundesley Parish Councils Neighbourhood Plans.




The PPTL advised that Norfolk County Council were consulting on the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWI) for Norfolk and that this had now been rescheduled until after the Local Elections. The detail of the emerging LCWIP had been reported to the Working Party in December 2022. The PPTL showed early examples of mapping where potential improvements to the cycling and walking network could be improved, where feasibility studies could be conducted, and investment may be required. He contended that it was important that the Council engage with this consultation, and noted that this would not commence till mid-May and not Q1 as previously thought.


  1. Cllr N Dixon expressed his disappointment that the Officers presentation and verbal update had not been provided in the form of a written report or other written submission, and circulated to Members ahead of the meeting. He considered this would have allowed members time to digest information and form meaningful questions on the details provided.


  1. The PPM advised this report was for information only and did not require resolution, it was intended to offer Members an update on the depth and spread of what the team were working on and provide an update to the background work required ahead of submission.


Cllr W Fredericks left the meeting at 12.00pm


  1. The PPTL advised the background papers had been viewed by Members at earlier stages of the Local Plan process (Regulation 18 and 19), they were Officer Papers which justify the Plan and the approaches taken but do not make recommendations to the Plan.


  1. Cllr N Dixon reiterated his comments that the Working Party should have been supplied the Officers presentation with the Agenda. This would have allowed Members to ask meaningful questions, and aided in the efficacy of the meeting.


  1. The Chairman considered the Local Plan had been discussed at length by the Working Party, and Members had been offered ample time to debate its contents.


  1. The PPM acknowledged Cllr N Dixons comments, and understood his frustration that the single line item on the agenda did not capture the full extent of the Officers presentation. He noted the Neighbourhood Plan update was not referenced on the agenda, and therefore Members may not have been prepared to discuss this matter. However, the PPM assured the Working Party that this item was for information only, and was to inform Members of current work.


  1. Cllr N Dixon endorsed the submission of the Local Plan, which had been developed on for over 6 years, and commented it would be remise for the Local Plan not to be agreed for submission within this Administration. With respect of the Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP), Cllr N Dixon advised he had benefited from a 1 to 1 meeting with the PPM, and considered all Members of the Working Party would benefit from greater insight on the IDP. This would better enable Members to have a greater understanding of where the IDP fits within the overall Local Plan, its site allocations, and where the all-important infrastructure would be adequately considered and integrated in the Plan.


  1. The PPTL advised the IDP builds on the Infrastructure Delivery Statement, published during the Regulation 18 stage and shared on the Council’s website. The IDP collates all the Infrastructure delivery requirements within the Local Plan, adding contextual information, outlines various investment strategies (i.e. Anglian Water), and pulls together where site allocations specially call for any level of investment. He advised it was a live-document, regularly updated as new information comes to light. The PPTL commented that the IDP would help the Council going forward to align priorities and funding opportunities which would help in the delivery of the Local Plan and the priorities in respect of economic investment, in turn influencing the priorities of the corporate plan. The PPTL reminded members that the IDP was circulated to all members of the working party as an action of a previous meeting before Christmas and he offered to provide an overview at the meeting .Members declined such an insight at this time.


  1. The PPM agreed with Cllr N Dixon that raising the profile of infrastructure delivery, how it works and the contents of the IDP, would be of interest collectively to the Working Party. He advised, following submission of the Local Plan, that he would there was an option to include an item on a future agenda to discuss the wider Infrastructure Delivery, which could include the IDP. He noted that infrastructure delivery was a matter of interest to the public, and it was important Members understood this important area of work.