Presentation by Ashley Baldwin, Spatial Policy & Delivery Manager, Lichfield District Council
Mr Ashley Baldwin, Spatial Policy & Delivery Manager at Lichfield District Council introduced himself and presented a power point presentation entitled “Neighbourhood Plans & Planning Policy”. Mr Baldwin assured all attendees that the presentation would be circulated to all parish clerks for onward transmission.
Mr Baldwin said he and his team would also be willing to visit any parish council should they feel it helpful and said the first point of contact if anyone was interested in achieving a neighbourhood plan was his colleague, Mr Patrick Jervis. Mr Baldwin advised that there were already 11 neighbourhood plans in place and if any other parish was thinking of going through the process he would suggest they engage with these other parishes that have achieved theirs i.e. Little Aston and Stonnall/Alrewas as they would have good lessons to share, however, if any one was considering beginning their neighbourhood plan or even considering a review of a current one he asked that they look at the Lichfield District Council Local Plan timetable because Lichfield District Council has a requirement to keep their Local Plan up to date and there is an open consultation on it at the moment which is due to end in November 2019 which went to last week’s Economic Growth, Environment & Development (Overview & Scrutiny) Committee meeting for discussion.
The following questions were asked:-
Q – As you say a neighbourhood plan is to be reviewed every 5 years – does this mean the whole process needs to be repeated?
A – No, not necessarily – it must be fit for purpose – A review might be about looking at a specific component and focusing on reviewing that aspect. If the parish look at it in the context that if the local plan changes the implications for the Neighbourhood Plan i.e. there are going to be significant conflicts with the then yes, will have to go through the whole process. This will be a decision for the parish.
Q - What growth is needed for Birmingham?
A - Birmingham went through with their plan and managed to get it signed off by an Inspector even though there was circa 60,000 dwellings shortfall inclusive of other areas including the Black Country. Lichfield have been working with Birmingham and the wider housing market area to reduce that figure down to a much more negligible figure, however, there will be a need for the Authority to accommodate some cross-border growth.
Q – What might this look like and how does it compare to the current Plan?
A – The current Local Plan has a housing figure of just over 10,000 dwellings. The Birmingham shortfall is to be addressed through the Plan Review. Government have identified a standard method for calculating housing needs. For Lichfield District this identifies a Plan Review requirement of 6,600 or 330 per annum. However, this is considered the baseline. In the last consultation the Council identified accommodating an additional 3,000 – 4,500 on top of its baseline need.
Q - What growth is being provided by the surrounding authorities?
A - It is a real mixed bag – South Staffs have identified similar to Lichfield District Council. However, the Council have objected to other Plans such as Bromsgrove and Solihull because it is considered that they could contribute more. Subject to our Members’ agreement, we will attend their examinations. In practice this works more effectively when done jointly with other authorities there is more credence given i.e. Tamworth attended our examination as wanted an uplift but they were unsuccessful.
Q - How important is the call for sites document?
A - It identified the potential supply out there. An example would be Thorpe Constantine was never promoted so we discounted that option.
Q – If land is not submitted to the Authority would the Authority still pursue it through the Local Plan?
A – This is unlikely because we are not in a position to persuade land owners to bring land forward i.e. there is sufficient supply to meet the needs of the area.
Q – Are the Council currently consulting on a Green Belt Review, if so what does this mean?
A – Yes, at the moment we are consulting on the Green Belt Review methodology. We want to know whether the principles we are proposing are correct.
Q – In Armitage with Handsacre – southbound – there is a green belt and developers have invited the Parish Council to meet as they are looking at a potential build of 300//400 houses within the green belt. Due to the concerns that the Birmingham equation is putting pressure on developers to put pressure on Planning Authorities to build developments – what is the best action for the Parish Council to take? What advice would you give?
A – Firstly, consider and hear what the request is. It can be appropriate to meet and at the end of the meeting remain completely neutral. However, always ask for them to put something in writing; agree some minutes; as wouldn’t want developer to say the parish is in favour when keeping neutral, always keep some sort of audit trail.
Q – There is disparity across the district regarding the CIL rates. Any indications that there will be a review of CIL?
A - Rates across district are low when compared with neighbouring areas. However, the rates were calculated based on viability, specifically land value. This does require review and will follow the Local Plan Review.
Q - S106 query – since CIL is defined by square meterage does the S106 get the left overs – If there is a low CIL parish will they get low S106 money too?
A - S106 monies is dependent on the site dynamics, therefore the level of S106 will vary from site to site.
Q – As apartments have a £0 rating are we intending to review this? The foot print can be very large – would we look at infrastructure delivery?
A – Yes, at the moment the apartments are £0 rated. However, where development occurs such as apartments and commercial units (also £0 rated) there is clearly an incentive for the developer. We need to investigate this further and it will be reviewed as part of the CIL review.
Q – There are 3 wards which have independent Neighbourhood Plans as they were early birds before the boundary changes of 2015 – Little Aston, Shenstone and Stonnall. However, the newly created Little Hay was part of Shenstone originally – will the de-joining affect the Plans?
A – He would like to get a legal view on this one as the Neighbourhood Plans would have been based on the boundaries in place at that time. (Mr Baldwin to report back to Chairman on this).