Agenda item

Draft Thanet Local Plan - Publication stage


Members considered the report on the draft Local Plan, which set out the legal requirements for the Local Plan and the guidance which affects decisions through the Local Plan process. They were advised that the Local Plan supported the Council’s Corporate Plan priorities and was important for creating a framework for fulfilling the priority to promote inward investment and job creation. Together with the Council’s newly adopted Economic Growth Strategy, it sets the framework for achieving the Council’s economic ambitions.


Cabinet also noted that the Local Plan also makes provision for new housing to meet local needs and to support the growth of the workforce, and other development requirements, and supports the provision of key new infrastructure. They discussed the main issues raised during the consultation on Proposed Revisions to the draft Local Plan (January 2017); and provides recommended responses to those issues as reported in Annex 1 to the Cabinet report.


Members acknowledged that the draft Local Plan had to be based on sound evidence and followed Government guidance in order to meet the statutory requirements that would be considered by the Planning Inspectorate when adjudicating the merits of the Plan. As a result, key changes were being proposed for the pre-Submission Publication stage and these were as follows:


1.  The identification of a number of sites as Local Green Space (as set out in this report);


2.  The identification of Landscape Character Areas for the district, with the Landscape Character Assessment to be published with the intention of adopting it as a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD);


3.  New general housing policy to reduce the repetition of key policy requirements in housing allocation policies;


4.  A Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) for the Westwood retail area, detailing pedestrian connectivity and the goal of transforming Westwood into a cohesive town centre;


5.  Ensuring the draft Local Plan policies are consistent with Natural England’s advice regarding the coastal international wildlife sites;


6.  A policy for the protection of allotments;


7.  Policy support for new education and health facilities at key locations in the district;


8.  Continuing the policy from the adopted Local Plan to safeguard land for grow-on space for the QEQM hospital;


9.  Updating the evidence and policies relating to the National Technical Standards;


10.  Remove the Westwood Lodge site from the Green Wedge policy area and include it within the urban boundary; and


11.  Updating the Plan to recognise the changes in the status of some housing sites, including the allocation of two additional sites – Shottendane Farm, Margate (8 units); and Lanthorne Court, Broadstairs (up to 56 units).


Cabinet was urged not to delay the Local Plan process because a delay could result in intervention by the Department for Communities & Local Government (DCLG), effectively removing Council control of the process. Investment in the area could be significantly undermined or delayed, with a significant impact on development, economic growth and investor confidence in the area.


In making a decision on this issue, Members were also made aware that that the Department for Communities & Local Government (DCLG) had recently published proposals for a new methodology to be applied by all local planning authorities in determining housing requirements. DCLG estimated that applying this methodology over the period 2016-26 would raise the requirement for Thanet from 857 dwellings per year to 1063 dwellings per year. If this uplift is also applied to the final 5 years of the draft Plan (2026-31), this would mean a total increase of about 3,090 dwellings over the period of the Local Plan, taking the total to just over 20,200 dwellings.


The consultation document indicates that, where a draft local plan has not been submitted for Examination by 31 March 2018, the new standardised housing method should be used. If the draft Plan is not submitted to the Planning Inspectorate by that date, the Council would then need to revise the draft Plan to incorporate the additional housing requirement. This represents a significant risk both to the Council’s draft Local Plan and to the wider planning of development in the district. It would also result in significant delay to the draft Plan and additional costs to be borne before the draft Plan reaches Submission stage in the review of evidence (the additional cost is estimated to be more than £75,000).


In relation to the former Airport site; Members were advised that AviaSolutions had reviewed the submissions made in relation the Airport, and had not changed their advice to the Council regarding the future viability of Manston. However, the draft Policy still made allowance for an element of aviation use on the site, as part of a mixed-use development.


This report would also be considered by the Overview & Scrutiny Panel on 21 November, and the views of the Panel will be reported back to the Cabinet meeting on 14 December 2017 before going to Council on 18 January 2018.


The following Members spoke under Council Procedure 20.1:


Councillor Brimm;

Councillor Partington;

Councillor Shonk;

Councillor Game;

Councillor Savage;

Councillor Taylor-Smith;

Councillor Bayford.


Councillor L Fairbrass proposed, Councillor Wells seconded and Cabinet agreed:


1.  The draft Local Plan with the changes proposed in the Cabinet report, and the Sustainability Appraisal, for Publication for a period of 6 weeks following Council in January 2018, to allow comments to be made;


2.  To publish the Thanet Landscape Character Assessment for comment, with the intention of adopting it as a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD);


3.  To recommend to Council that, following the Publication period, the draft Local Plan be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for Examination; and


4.  The amendments to the Local Development Scheme (the formal Local Plan work programme) to reflect the expected timetable.

Supporting documents: