Joint Local Plan Stakeholder Briefing

Three officers of Chiltern Chamber attended a briefing by Chiltern District Council and South Bucks District Council, to launch the consultation phase of the Joint Local Plan.

Chiltern Chamber, as a consultee, will be formulating a response. We believe that it is critical to engage with this process, if Chiltern is to remain an area conducive to business, supporting a vibrant community, yet retaining its special character. We shall also be working to help our members to understand the issues and maybe to make their own responses.

The Plan, covering the Chiltern District Council (CDC) and South Bucks District Council (SBDC) areas, will set out policies used to determine planning applications, site allocations or proposed new development (eg housing or employment) and broader land designations (eg Green Belt areas). It will run from 2014 to 2036.

On the evening of February 10th, we shall be hosting a Question Time-style discussion entitled “Where Will Our Children Live and Work? – Planning the future in the Chilterns”more details and booking form here. PLEASE come along and help inform us of the views of our members.

Members may recall that the Chamber made a submission to something similar early in 2015. A previous consultation by Chiltern District Council (CDC) has been superceded by the Joint Plan. It is important to stress that any comments submitted to CDC for the consultation in 2015, will NOT be taken into account. Consultees wishing to make points to this new consultation will need to be re-submit them. Sites identified in the previous ‘Call For Sites’ will however be taken forward, though there will be the opportunity to suggest further sites.

Joint Local Plan – Key Dates

Key anticipated dates are as follows:

  1. Public Consultation commencing in January/February 2016 incorporating an ‘Issues and Options’ Consultation. Closing date for submissions 5pm 14th March 2016
  2. Preferred Options Consultation commencing in October/November 2016
  3. Publication (Draft Plan) Consultation commencing in March/April 2017
  4. Submission of the Plan to the Secretary of State in September 2017
  5. Examination in December 2017
  6. Adoption in June 2018

In addition the Councils are continuing to carry out ‘Duty to Co-operate’ discussions throughout the process and will review the need for a joint Community Infrastructure Levy between September 2016 and July 2017.

The Presentation – Some Main Points

The plan will look, on the one hand, at likely economic development needs for the area up to 2036, and on the other hand, will assess likely availability of land for housing and economic purposes. It will also seek to take into consideration infrastructure needs and other factors such as environment and heritage. Below are a few take-aways from a presentation at CDC’s offices to launch the 8-week consultation period.

We would encourage everyone, however, to download and read the Initial Consultation document for themselves. The importance of the views of local consultees contributing to a ‘genuine’ consultation was stressed. The CDC web site’s Local Plan page makes available a multitude of other documents relevant to the consultation. This includes the presentation mentioned above, though you can also see it embedded on this page.

Needs

Initial assessment of housing development needs across the CDC and SBDC areas is for 15,100 houses, of which affordable housing would be between 2,700 and 4,200. NET additional employment space needs are put at 15 hectares. Interestingly, while the housing needs were relatively equal across the two councils, CDC’s need for additional hectares was just 2, with 13 for SBDC; does this mean that CDC may be more able to handle its requirements via existing brownfield sites – or is there a higher presumption of growth in the SBDC area, maybe a Heathrow effect?

It was clearly spelt out, however, that at this early stage, the planners consider it unlikely that sufficient sites will be identified to satisfy likely housing needs – and that some cooperation may be sought with adjoining councils.

Supply of Land/Green Belt

Various options for development land and sites would be considered, both in terms of land types and locations. These are displayed, including in maps, in the initial consultation document.

Again, one message was clear: almost certainly, there will be a need to use some current Green Belt land. A Green Belt review will therefore take place – Part 1 has established an agreed methodology of review, Part 2 will consider the extent of land to be removed from the Green Belt, taking into consideration development needs and other factors. On the other side of the coin, local communities may nominate green areas of special importance to them, for consideration of special protection through the Joint Local Plan.

Infrastructure

The Councils state that they are undertaking a Settlement Infrastructure Capacity Study to understand an ‘infrastructure baseline’ position for key infrastructure needs such as roads, schools, health,and utilities, and planned improvements/additions by service and infrastructure providers/funders. From this they will then proceed to determine infrastructure requirements to support different growth scenarios, producing an Infastructure Delivery Schedule alongside the Joint Local Plan.