Agenda item

Local Plan – Timetable & Risks 


The Principal Transport and NSIP Project Manager gave an update on the Local Plan timetable and risks on behalf of the Service Manager (Planning).


The Local Development Scheme adopted prior to the pandemic, set out that the emerging Local Plan would be submitted for examination to the Planning Inspectorate in early 2021. As Members will be aware the Regulation 18 Stage 2 consultation in late 2020 pushed the submission date back to late 2021. As reported to Strategic Environment Cabinet Committee in June 2020, the Regulation 18 Stage 2 consultation was not undertaken by officers at the start of 2020, as work was outstanding from consultants. Progress on the Regulation 18 Stage 2 emerging Local Plan was subsequently delayed as a result of COVID-19.


Colleagues in Planning Policy have been working on the three strands of the emerging Local Plan, these being:


·         Local Plan Core Strategy Partial Review

·         Site Allocations Document

·         Development Management Policies Document

Unfortunately, the pandemic and Brexit resulted in significant delays being encountered in terms of the production and finalisation of the Kent County Council Highways model, the highways model needs to be utilised to inform the Partial Review and Site Allocations Document.

Whilst KCC have prioritised GBC’s use of the model, some initial work has shown that the model requires greater validation against the local road network. This means that further traffic counts have to be commissioned, these are scheduled to take place from late June to mid-July. This data will be utilised to improve the accuracy of the highways model within Gravesham, which is needed to have more meaningful engagement with both KCC Highways and National Highways.


The initial modelling has also shown that development within Gravesham will have an impact upon the Strategic Road Network from at least the M25/Dartford Crossing to Bluebell Hill. National Highways have concerns that the impact could be greater than shown as well as further afield. As such National Highways may also require further traffic counts / modelling of specific junctions on the strategic road network, in addition to the modelling undertaken using the Kent Highways model. Due to the school holidays if further counts are needed, these cannot take place until after schools have returned from the summer break i.e. September 2022, due to DfT guidelines.


Due to the significant uncertainties at present, it is not possible to provide Members with a clear timetable for when the Regulation 19 consultation can be taken to Full Council and undertaken. The transport work moving forward will be an iterative process dependent on the outcomes of various work undertaken and discussions amongst parties i.e. GBC, KCC and National Highways.  Officers are continuing to work with KCC Highways and National Highways to expedite matters, in order to ensure the Regulation 19 consultation is brought before Members at the earliest opportunity.


The following points were highlighted:


Concern was expressed over the slow rate of progress and a lack of feedback.   The Local Plan needs a robust evidence base.


·         Members expressed disappointment that the transport modelling work was proving a constraint on the Local Plan Strategy


·         that said need to avoid a Local Plan that is found unsound based on the traffic modelling


·         We need a Local Plan this year for this borough. The risk is that there will be development where we don’t want it


Action: The Principal Transport and NSIP Project Manager to feed back to the Service Manager (Planning) that Members are disappointed at the rate of the traffic modelling. Pressure is needed on KCC to produce an agreed model that local authorities can use as a planning tool to move forward more smoothly.


The Service Manager (Planning Policy) and the Assistant Director (Planning) to arrange a meeting to brief Members on the issues.


Members noted the update.