Cabinet Member for Planning
NOTE: The meeting was adjourned between 8:02pm to 8:16pm
19.1 The meeting had reached the guillotine deadline and the Chair asked for a proposer and seconder for the meeting to continue.
19.2 Councillor Morley PROPOSED that the meeting continued, which was SECONDED by Councillor Eburne.
NOTE: Councillor Passmore left the meeting at 8:19pm
By 31 votes to 1, 1 abstention
It was RESOLVED: -
that the meeting continued beyond the guillotine deadline, until all business was concluded
19.3 The Chair invited Councillor Burn, the Cabinet Member for Planning to introduce Paper MC/20/7.
19.4 Councillor Burn outlined the background for the report and drew Members’ attention to Paragraph 1.3, which outlined the proposed four points to which consultation was sought. The Council’s responses to the Consultation were outlined in Appendix A. There had been a cross party discussion on the 10 September 2020, which had formulated the responses.
19.5 Councillor Burn stated that the cross-party discussion had expressed concerns for the method to assess housing need which would raise the need from 535 dwellings per year to 750 dwellings per year. This would have implications for the Joint Local Plan, Communities, rural landscaping developments and the five-year Housing Land Supply position.
19.6 Councillor Burn PROPOSED Recommendations 3.1 and 3.2 in the report, which was SECONDED by Councillor Brewster.
19.7 Councillor Eburne PROPOSED an amendment to Recommendation 3.2 that after ‘the Cabinet Members for Planning’ the wording ‘and the Opposition spokesperson for Planning, Councillor Andrew Stringer’ be added.
19.8 Councillor Otton SECONDED the amendment.
19.9 Councillor Burn responded that Councillor Stringer was part of the cross-party discussions and he APPROVED that Councillor Stringer be part of the collaboration.
19.10 He continued that Councillor Arthey, Babergh Cabinet Member for Planning, would also be part of the collaborations, as this was a joint response to the consultations.
19.11 Councillor Geake queried the answer to question three in relation to the adjustment to the standard measure and why the response was ‘yes’.
19.12 The Assistant Director for Sustainable Communities responded that the standard method was not part of the consultation, and that the ‘yes’ in the response could be removed and go straight into the narrative, which Councillor Geake appreciated.
19.13 Councillor Mansel queried the responses relating to First Homes which was to form part of the affordable mix in a development, and if there was scope for any concept of whether First Homes formed part to the affordable homes or not.
19.14 The Assistant Director – Sustainable Communities, responded that the principles of First Homes had been part of a Consultation, which had taken place earlier in the year and to which the Council did not provide a response to this consultation. The answers in the report were responses to questions being asked now.
19.15 In response to Councillor Mansel’s question regarding the consultation for First Homes, the Assistant Director – Sustainable Communities responded he would respond to this and further questions relating to this outside the meeting.
19.16 Councillor Field questioned the maturity and stability of the document. He thought the document was not completely clear on some of the points, and that some of the estimates were highly volatile. He asked what level of revision would be made to the Document, which would potentially be agreed this evening.
19.17 The Assistant Director - Sustainable Communities pointed Members’ attention to the final paragraph in answer four. He continued to detail for the ration for shared ownership and affordable homes.
19.18 Councillor Carter asked for the definition of first homes and if this included adapted homes too. He questioned if there were any protections for disabled first time buyers, as standard able bodied first home buyers were means tested.
19.19 The Assistant Director – Sustainable Communities responded that expansion on the specific technical definitions provided in the report could be responded to outside the meeting. However, as a general rule there were no specifications for what size a home for first time buyers would be.
19.20 In response to Councillor Scarff’s question in relation to the raise of the small site threshold from 40 to 50 dwellings and if the responses were strong enough to convey the Council’s concerns. Councillor Burn responded that he was not averse to amend part of the responses in this was expressed by Members during the debate.
19.21 In response to Councillor Warboy’s question for the first part of the consultation, the standard method and the proposed method factor, the Assistant Director – Sustainable Communities explained the algorithm and the methods. Responses to 1 to 7 evaluated if affordability was an appropriate way to adjust this. This was something the collaborations of Members and the Assistant Director – Sustainable Communities could consider. However, the housing targets were set by the Government and it was not possible to add local information.
19.22 Councillor Field queried question 13 and why first homes was media priced homes rather than lower quartile homes. To which the Assistant Director responded that some first-time buyers might be considering buying larger homes.
19.23 Members then debated the issues including:
· The issues around planning applications and outline planning applications in relation to developers’ approach to affordable housing.
· That affordable homes development could decrease if the planning system was changed.
· That the affordability ration in question 3 did not work due to the way homes were being sold and that there was a risk that the Council’s Five-year Housing Land Supply could be at risk, if the planning system changed.
· That some Members were concerned that the changes in the planning system were a delivery vehicle for the upcoming white paper.
· That the changes did not consider biodiversity and carbon reduction.
· That the environmental implications could not be mitigated as suggested in paragraph 11.1 of the report.
NOTE: Councillor Carter left the meeting at 9:04pm
· That a robust response was required for the algorithms and that the document needed a careful quality assurance to ensure the Council’s points were expressed in clear English.
· That the objections in responses 16 and 17 should be extremely clear.
· Some felt that the whole thrust of First Homes was to increase planning applications, which increased land value and profits for development companies.
· That further incentives should be made available to encourage the building of homes for social rental, which would stabilise house prices. For some a first home would be the only home they would ever own and for many this would be a council house.
19.24 Councillor Burn summed up the debate and that some questions asked during the debate were not questions asked in the Consultations. Many of the points made were specifically related to Mid Suffolk, though he shared Members’ concern. However, the proposed responses would be reviewed, and he would ensure that the responses made would reflect the concerns made during the debate. He thanked both Mid Suffolk and Babergh Members of the Working Group for the work undertaken in the report.
19.25 The SUBSTANTIVE MOTION was put to Members for Voting and the votes was UNANIMOUS.
It was RESOLVED: -
1.1 To respond to the ‘Changes to the Planning System’ consultation.
1.2 That the Assistant Director for Sustainable Communities in collaboration with the Cabinet Members for Planning and the Green and Liberal Democrat Groups’ Spokesperson for Planning consider any proposed amendments to the suggested response and be authorised to make amendments before submitting a response to the Government.