To receive the annual update on strategic and local plans in
4.1 Mike Dawson (CEO) and Cllr Sandra Ford from Tewkesbury Borough Council were invited to present this item. Members noted the following points:
· This report was presented to the GEGJC at their last meeting and was for noting and a reference point for this Committee.
· The report provided an update on the status of strategic plans that had been progressed by the Gloucestershire authorities and the levels of growth that had been identified/planned for each.
· Stroud District Council had commenced a review of their Local Plan, they were expecting to have an examination in public sometime this year.
· Tewkesbury/Cheltenham/Gloucester had a Joint Core Strategy (adopted in December 2017) and this was currently being reviewed. The authorities had also carried out an ‘issues and options’ consultation which had unfortunately experienced delays. They had now appointed consultants to support the review of the JCS and had a revised timetable for completion.
· Forest of Dean had an adopted Strategy, this was currently under review and they planned to have a ‘preferred options’ consultation in Summer/Autumn 2022.
· Cotswold also had an adopted plan which was under review and they were looking at a regulating consultation for early 2022.
· In summary all councils had adopted plans and were all in the review stage at different times.
· Page 19 listed a number of plans that GCC were responsible for, strategic documents, a list of plans that had been adopted and the number of plans that were under review.
· Key projects:
o The consultation on M5 Junction 10 proposals would expire on 15th February 2022.
o M5 Junction 9 and A46 - GCC were leading on considering options for the new A46 alignment. The council had applied to the DfT for the large local major spending to be able to take this forward. A consultation was expected in 2022 on options on what the realignment could be.
o A417 Missing Link – This was being taken forward as a development consent order application so that application had been submitted to the planning inspectorate, which would likely be considered sometime this year.
o National planning matters – It was expected that government would announce a much less radical reform of the planning system than previously thought.
4.2 A member questioned what impact the revised Environment Bill would have on future planning. It was advised that the key impact for planning authorities was the need to show that all new developments would provide a net gain in terms of biodiversity.
4.3 Noting that the majority of the report content referred to major road schemes, it was questioned how the planning process would change/adapt to changes in the law and public opinion, especially around climate change movements and the increased emphasis on separating safe cycle paths from existing roads etc.
4.4 In response, it was acknowledged that there were a necessity to look at modal shift in terms of future infrastructure and climate change, but it would also remain important for people to have a choice. All district councils would continue working with GCC, as the lead highway authority, in connection with what plans the council had adopted.
4.4 It was added that GCC commented on all planning applications (apart from extremely minor ones) and ensured that the district councils (as the local planning authority) were fully aware of the County’s requirements in term of future infrastructure. In addition, it also commented on all emerging local plans and were a partner of the JCS. The list in the report was lengthy but incorporated all aspects that GCC had statutorily responsibility for such as, highways and transport, schools, libraries, flood elevation, broadband, waste etc. There was an annual requirement to produce an Infrastructure Funding Statement and this was produced by the end of December each year, the most recent statement is available here: Infrastructure Funding Statement (IFS) - Gloucestershire County Council
4.5 It was noted that the issue of ‘affordable housing’ not being affordable or available for local residents was an issue across the county and especially for first-time buyers. It was advised that planning authorities could refer to the ‘Housing Needs Survey’ in terms of having the evidence base so they can ensure that the balance is there between affordable housing units.