Agenda item

Woking Site Allocations Development Plan Document (DPD) – the Inspector’s Final Report EXE21-147

Reporting Person – Giorgio Framalicco

Minutes:

Councillor Elson, Portfolio Holder for Planning Policy, introduced a report which recommended to Council to accept the Inspector’s Main Modifications and the Council’s Additional Modifications and adopt the Site Allocations Development Plan Document (DPD) and the Proposals Map.  Councillor Elson explained that the Council had made a commitment in the Core Strategy to prepare the Site Allocations DPD to identify specific sites to enable the delivery of the Core Strategy, including a commitment to release Green Belt land between 2022 and 2027 to provide at least 550 new homes.

The Portfolio Holder drew attention to the community engagement and consultation which had been undertaken to inform the preparation of the DPD.  A typo was highlighted in paragraph 1.3 of the report, namely that the Examination Hearings had taken place between 2 December and 11 December 2019, and not 2020.

The Executive was advised that the Local Development Framework (LDF) Working Group had considered the Inspector’s Final Report at its meeting on 22 September 2021.  An amendment suggested by the LDF Working Group had been incorporated into recommend (i) of the Executive report and the Group was supportive of the recommendations.

The Executive was informed that the Inspector had concluded that subject to his Main Modifications, the Site Allocations DPD was sound, legally compliant and its preparation had met the requirements of the Duty to Cooperate.  Councillor Elson stated that the Inspector’s report was binding.  The Executive noted that the Council could not adopt the Site Allocations DPD without the Inspector’s recommended Main Modifications.  The Council, at its meeting on 14 October 2021, would therefore have a binary choice to adopt the Inspector’s recommendations or not to adopt the DPD.

Following a question regarding whether all Green Belt in the Borough could be under threat if the Site Allocations DPD was not adopted, the Executive was informed that there was the likely risk that any Green Belt land that was not designated or protected by policy would be under threat from development if an applicant could demonstrate that the Council had not identified sufficient land to enable the delivery of development required by the Core Strategy.

The Executive was advised that it was not possible for the Council to amend the DPD, apart from minor editorial changes, as the Inspector’s recommendations were binding.  As previously stated, the Council could not adopt the Site Allocations DPD without the Inspector’s Main Modifications.

The Prime Minister’s recent Party Conference speech, which referred to the Green Belt, was highlighted and the Executive was advised that Officers were aware of the contents of the speech and were of the opinion that there was nothing significant or new to cause the Council not to accept the Inspector’s recommendations or adopt the DPD.

The Executive was supportive of the recommendations and thanked the Planning Policy Team for their hard work on preparing the Site Allocations DPD.

REcommended to Council

That  (i)    the Local Development Framework (LDF) Working Group accepts that the Inspector’s Final Report is binding and that the Council has a binary choice to adopt the Inspector’s recommendations in full or not to adopt the DPD. Although in the main the DPD presents a sustainable way forward for the development of the borough taking into account housing requirements, elements of the Inspector’s Final Report are not what some Councillors and local residents would want. Notwithstanding this, it is clear that the failure to timely adopt the recommendations would result in a worse outcome for the borough as a whole. Taking into account the above and national planning policy, the Working Group recommends that the Inspector’s Final Report and the Main Modifications document be accepted by the Council in full;

          (ii)   subject to the Main Modifications recommended by the Inspector and the Council’s Additional Modifications, the Woking Site Allocations Development Plan Document and the Proposals Map be adopted in full for the purposes of development management and all other planning decisions;

          (iii)  the entire provisions of the Woking Site Allocations DPD (draft is in Appendix 4 to the report) and the Proposals Map (Appendix 3 to the report) should be given full weight for the purposes of development management and all other planning decisions;

          (iv)  delegated authority be given to the Director of Planning, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Planning, to make sure that the Inspector’s Main Modifications and the Council’s Additional Modifications are fully incorporated into the Site Allocations DPD. A draft of the DPD is in Appendix 4 to the report;

          (v)   delegated authority be given to the Director of Planning, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Planning, to oversee the preparation and publication of the post adoption Sustainability Appraisal Statement; and

          (vi)  delegated authority be given to the Director of Planning and Director of Legal and Democratic Services, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Planning, to ensure that the adoption process as set out in Section 8 (next stages) of the report is strictly followed.

Reason:   To ensure the adoption of the Site Allocations DPD to provide the necessary framework for the sustainable distribution of development across the borough.

Supporting documents: