Timetable agreed for Local Plan Review
This month, the council announced its timetable for the Local Plan Review. At the Full Council meeting, councillors agreed a motion that expressed their regret at the delay to the plan and asked residents to understand that this is due to the impossible timeline set by central Government and the complex challenges, constraints and delays we face as key parts of the process are largely within the control of other agencies, such as Southern Water, the Environment Agency, Natural England and Highways England. Key examples are the capacity of the A27 and the issues with waste water, which you can read more about below. The Full Council agreed that given the constraints that the council is under, that the Revised Local Development Scheme is the council’s best response. You can watch the meeting here: http://chichester.nucast.live/frontend/meeting/3538415 and the minutes will soon be available to view at: https://chichester.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=132&MId=1517
The timetable is otherwise known as the Local Development Scheme and outlines all of the work that will take place around the Local Plan Review going forward, including details of the documents that are being prepared to form the evidence base for the plan, and when these will be published. It also sets out key dates for when people will have further opportunities to have their say and provide us with their feedback.
The Local Plan Review will set out our vision for the future of the district’s economy; it will plan for housing needs and the transport infrastructure to accommodate the planned growth; it will look at how we can improve the lives of children and young people; it will consider the area’s environmental needs; it will support our health and wellbeing; and will ensure that we continue to have a rich arts and cultural environment. In our last newsletter, we talked about why the Local Plan Review is so important, the area it covers, and how it will help to protect the important environmental and historic qualities of the area, while addressing the district’s future housing and employment development needs – if you missed it, you can read this here: https://www.chichester.gov.uk/article/35060/Chichester-Local-Plan-Review-update-26-February-2021
Why do we need a timetable?
Having an agreed timetable helps our local communities and partners to keep up-to-date on all of the work that is being done to progress the plan. It also provides timings to indicate when the different pieces of work will be completed and when the findings will be published as documents on our website. These documents are really important because they will form our evidence base and will be considered by the Planning Inspector when the Local Plan Review is submitted for formal examination. We have to show that we have done everything we can to consider all of the available options. However, if our evidence shows that certain things are not possible, as long as we have the evidence, the Inspector will take this into consideration when reviewing the housing targets that we have been set by Government.
The Local Development Scheme, which also provides details on other key pieces of work, including Neighbourhood Plans and the Community Infrastructure Levy, can be viewed on our website here: https://www.chichester.gov.uk/article/24662/Timetable—Local-Development-Scheme
What progress has been made on roads and waste water?
As we mentioned in our last update, the biggest issues affecting the Local Plan Review are around transport and the A27, as well as the extra infrastructure needed for treating waste water. Although we are not responsible for roads or waste water, these issues need to be resolved in order to deliver development through the Local Plan, and so it is critical that we work with our partners to explore all options and ensure that we have the evidence to demonstrate that the level of development proposed can be delivered. These are extremely complex issues and require extra detailed work to be carried out before the review can be finalised. This is reflected in the timetable that has been set out in the Local Development Scheme.
Update on roads
Our last update explained that the work to date has identified the need for a series of junction improvements on the A27, including a link road from the Fishbourne roundabout to the Manhood Peninsula. Our partners have agreed that the evidence points to the need for the link road if we are to meet the level of growth the Government expects, and that this approach is needed while we wait for a decision from Government on the longer term plans for the A27.
In response to concerns raised through representations to consultation on the Preferred Approach Local Plan over the financial and environmental impacts of the Stockbridge Link Road, the council’s transport consultants were asked to investigate alternatives to the Stockbridge Link Road and identified a different approach utilising revised works to the Stockbridge roundabout. However, following testing, the alternative was found not to be capable of addressing the traffic impacts of Local Plan growth. A report on the alternatives to the Stockbridge Link Road, detailing all of the findings from the work and evidencing the need for the link road, has now been finalised and will be available to read at the end of this week or early next week, here: https://www.chichester.gov.uk/article/30928/Supporting-evidence—Local-Plan-review
The proposed link road would cross over land owned by West Sussex County Council, and in their role as local highways authority, they have agreed that the next step is for us to carry out a much more detailed assessment so that the full impacts can be understood. This extra work will begin soon and we will keep you updated on this.
Update on waste water
As you may have read in our last newsletter, in order to deliver the Local Plan we need more waste water capacity. Waste water has long been a problem in the South of the district and we have been lobbying Southern Water to explain what improvements are required for some time. Following an official complaint to the Water Services Regulation Authority, Ofwat, we have been holding constructive meetings with Southern Water and the Environment Agency, and Southern Water has agreed to work with us jointly on identifying improvements that need to be made.
We will be meeting Southern Water and The Environment Agency again in April, and over the coming months, to ensure that their commitment to effective progress and engagement in waste water issues is achieved and that the required evidence work on waste water disposal is completed.
‘Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment’ update
As you may already be aware, as part of the Local Plan process, we are required to publish details of sites across the Local Plan area that could potentially accommodate housing and employment. This document is called a Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (HELAA) and is one of the many important technical documents that support and inform the preparation of the Local Plan Review. While a site may be included in the HELAA, it doesn’t mean it will be developed – the HELAA does not allocate sites and does not mean that planning permission for any site will be granted. Instead, it is intended to provide details of housing and employment sites that have the potential to deliver development requirements. Further assessments will then take place to ensure the plan only selects the most appropriate locations across the plan area.
We have recently updated the HELAA, which was last published in October 2020. The latest update (March 2021) is to reflect revised climate change flood risk data. This update is very important to ensure that the HELAA uses the most accurate information to show which parts of the Local Plan area are more at risk of future flooding, and which are less at risk. The HELAA will be used as part of the evidence base to ensure that only the most suitable sites are taken forward for allocation in the Local Plan Review. The latest version of the HELAA is now available to view here: https://www.chichester.gov.uk/article/29759/Housing-and-Economic-Land-Availability-Assessment
Other ways to keep up-to-date on the Local Plan Review
This newsletter is part of a series of regular updates to keep you informed of our progress and to explain the areas of work that we are currently focusing on. If you would also like to receive formal notification of future Local Plan Review consultations and key stages, and to submit consultation responses online in future consultations, you can register on our planning policy consultation portal at: https://chichester.oc2.uk/.
People can also find out more about the work we are doing on our website at https://www.chichester.gov.uk/localplanreview
If you missed our last newsletter, you can read it here: https://www.chichester.gov.uk/article/35060/Chichester-Local-Plan-Review-update-26-February-2021. In it, you can read about the important role the Local Plan plays, the wide variety of topics it covers – from economy to environment and greenspace, living and housing to getting around and transport, to name a few – and how we have a range of measures in place to protect our area from inappropriate speculative development in the run up to the Local Plan Review being agreed.
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