|Committee Clippings - April 2014|
1. Local Plan - Lichfield District Council
The Society submitted representations on the Council's main modifications to the Local Plan during the six week consultation period ending on 20th March. The principal representations related to:-
Part way through the consultation period the Government issued revised Planning Practice Guidance for the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) details of which are at: www.planningguidance.planningportal.gov.uk
This new Guidance has radically changed a number of important issues that relate directly to the main modifications the Council has proposed. Had the revised Guidance been in place then it is clear that the proposals for release of the Green Belt need not have emerged. The Guidance has been issued two years after publication of the new NPPF and was accompanied by Ministerial statements re-emphasising the importance of protection of the Green Belt. This is in response to increasing concern across the country about the scale of loss of Green Belt which is emerging as Councils try to put in place Local Plans that meet the obligation to allocate sufficient houses for the objectively assessed housing need.
At the same time as Birmingham City is progressing its Local Plan a sub-regional study of housing needs by the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership area is under way. There is a strong possibility that the study will indicate that additional provision is needed in areas outside the conurbation to meet Birmingham City's needs. Lichfield District Council has agreed in their Local Plan modifications that if a situation arises that indicates a need for further out migration into Lichfield District a review of the Plan will take place. Should such additional housing for Birmingham be necessary this will underline the already strong case for full consideration of the capacity and sustainability of additional housing sites located outside the Green Belt to the north east of Lichfield. Without a strategic approach to consideration of locations outside the Green Belt the need for additional housing sites will be meet, based on an express policy in the Local Plan, by prioritising further release of Green Belt in Lichfield City.
The Committee considers the Council should follow the new Planning Practice Guidance. This would involve withdrawing the main modifications proposing release of Green Belt thus reverting to the original Local Plan policy that no major development Green Belt sites would be released in the Plan period.
2. The Draft Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)
The Committee also considered the District Council consultation on a preliminary draft charging schedule for the new Community Infrastructure Levy. Details of the new levy and the draft proposals are available at: www.lichfielddc.gov.uk
The levy on new development enables some of the costs of provision of infrastructure arising from development to be funded. The Local Plan Infrastructure Delivery Plan sets out the requirements associated with the Local Plan proposals and identifies key funding priorities. The levy may relate to highway works, school provision, health or recreational facilities. Some of these costs have in the past been covered by section 106 agreements which will continue to be available for some purposes but not in respect of works being funded by a CIL levy. The consultation period closes on 22nd April.
3. Helpful input from members
We are grateful to those members who informed the Society of their draft representations on the Local Plan and also comments on the proposed charges under CIL. This is of considerable assistance to us and we would welcome early sight of any proposed submissions or suggestions for points we can make on consultations taking place on local issues. Similarly if there are general matters or specific problems that need pursuing that members wish to bring to our attention please to do so.