MINUTES OF THE STRATEGIC POLICY AND RESOURCES PANEL held on Monday 21 September 2020 at 11am via Microsoft Teams Video Conferencing
Cllrs John Lowman (Chair), Malcolm Llewellyn, Allan Brown, Stephen Hand, Martin Machan & Bob Sampson. Also in attendance: Sarah Groom, Clerk to the Council
1. Apologies for Absence and Declarations of Interest: Apologies were received from Cllrs Tony Lank & Claire Majsai.
2. Declarations of interest: There were no declarations of interest.
3. Minutes of the Previous Meeting of the Strategic Policy & Resources Panel: The minutes of the meeting of 14 September 2020 were agreed as a true record of the meeting. The minutes will be signed by the Chairman at the next available opportunity.
4. Mid Sussex District Council Site Allocations DPD Consultation: The Panel had considered the MSDC submission draft of the Site Allocations Development Plan Document at the last meeting. It was agreed that the previous comments would be resubmitted to MSDC by the deadline of 28 September 2020, following Council’s agreement on 24 September.
However, since the last meeting Cuckfield Parish Council had sent round a copy of their comments and suggested that a collaborative approach across the District may have more impact. The Panel considered the suggestion from Cuckfield Parish Council and their detailed, logical response and concluded that a site specific response to the land north of Lyndon, Sayers Common was more relevant to our situation.
ACTION: The Clerk will submit the response to MSDC if approved at the Council meeting on 24 September 2020 and thank Cuckfield Parish Council for their communication.
5. Changes to the Planning System: The Panel re-considered the Government consultation on the proposed changes to the current planning system. Cllr Lowman had helpfully prepared a number of bullet points in preparation for a Parish Council response. A number of concerns were raised regarding the proposals including:
i. Cllr Sampson was concerned that once planning permission was granted for a site there was no time frame for building homes and that the permission could be banked forever potentially creating a further lack of social housing supply. For example the Duke of York pub car park development has been extremely poor and too slow to finish.
ii. Cllr Machan was concerned that there is no incentive to bring forward smaller sites for developers who say they can’t afford to get on site even to start the building. Removing S106 requirements for 25% affordable housing on sites with up to 40-50 homes might incentivise the builders.
iii. Cllr Lowman argued that if developers are required to pay their S106 contributions up front still, then it would encourage them to get on with building the homes to sell and recoup their initial outlays. Otherwise with no incentive to recoup their outlays they may just sit on land with permissions but not take action.
iv. Cllr Hand felt brown field sites should be developed before green field sites e.g. the Shoreham cement works which may need Government support to clear the site in the first instance.
The Panel considered whether there was any meaningful way to respond to this consultation based on the fact that the Planning for the Future consultation is also currently seeking responses. Cllr Sampson felt that if no one responded it might just be approved. Cllr Hand suggested our response could be that we are not happy with the algorithm as we have made significant contributions to social housing. Cllr
Llewellyn also suggested that the Government’s levelling up the north and south proposals are not being tackled by this algorithm. Cllr Machan suggested we could state high-level responses to each of the questions posed by the consultation, even if yes/no answers and this would also demonstrate to our residents that we are concerned about the contents. Cllr Machan and the Clerk would prepare a draft response for Council to consider on 24 September. It will include a comment to say that we will reply fully to the Planning for the Future consultation.
The Clerk had clarified whether Mid Sussex District Council would be including the parish and town council’s in any consultation and the answer had been that there were no plans at present.
The closing date for responses to the consultation is 29 September 2020. The consultation can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/changes-to-the-current-planning-system
ACTION: Cllr Machan and the Clerk would prepare a draft response for Council to consider on 24 September 2020 for submission by the deadline. It will include a comment to say that we will also reply fully to the Planning for the Future consultation.
6. Planning for the Future: The Panel considered the Government second consultation document on planning for the future. The closing date for responses to the consultation is 29 October 2020. The Planning for the future consultation proposes reforms of the planning system to streamline and modernise the planning process, bring a new focus to design and sustainability, improve the system of developer contributions to infrastructure, and ensure more land is available for development where it is needed. The consultation can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/planning-for-the-future
The Panel also considered a very professional response that had been prepared by Henfield Parish Council and shared with other local councils. The Panel agreed that the Henfield response was very professional and comprehensive. It was specific to Henfield and Horsham District Council but it could aid us in formulating our response. Mid Sussex District Council had not indicated that they intended to consult town and parish councils as part of their response on this consultation but Cllr Llewellyn was aware that SALC were inviting the Clerks and Chairs of Planning Committees to a webinar in early October on the subject.
It was agreed that a response would be based what the local impact of the changes would look like. The Neighbourhood Plan supporting documents would be very useful in looking at housing numbers. A number of Landscape Character Assessments for the first round of site allocations discussions would be helpful namely for Little Park, the Thakenham owned College Lane site, the Hurst College study and Kingsland Laines, produced by Dale Mayhew.
ACTION: Clerk to include the Planning for the Future consultation response as an agenda item for the 22 October 2020 Council meeting.
7. Matters for information or inclusion on next agenda:
The next meeting will be held to consider and draft the response on the Changes to the Planning System consultation.
8. Date of Next Meeting
The date of the next meeting is Monday 12 October at 11am.