Agenda item

Emerging Local Plan - Local Development Scheme


that the Assistant Director (Planning), in consultation with the Cabinet member for the Strategic Environment Portfolio, be delegated authority to publish a revised Local Development Scheme.



The Cabinet was informed that the Council currently had an adopted Local Plan Core Strategy covering the whole Borough (including the part of Ebbsfleet Development Corporation that falls within Gravesham). It was adopted by the Council in September 2014. Several policies of the Adopted Gravesham Local Plan First Review were saved following approval by the Secretary of State via a Direction issued in 2007. Together with the Gravesham Local Plan Policies Map (adopted in September 2014), they form components of the Development Plan, for which Gravesham Borough Council (GBC) has direct responsibility as part of its Plan Making role.


The Assistant Director (Planning) advised that, following the adoption of the Core Strategy, Officers turned their attention to reviewing the Local Plan Core Strategy, as well as progressing work on the Site Allocations and Development Management Policies Document. The latter document being the second part of the Council’s Local Plan, which allocates additional sites for development, designates sites / land for specific uses and sets out the detailed Development Management policies.


The Council’s project plan for bringing forward the emerging Local Plan was set out in the Council’s Local Development Scheme, with the most recent Scheme being adopted by the  Cabinet in October 2019.


Progress on the emerging Local Plan since the adoption of the Scheme in October 2019, was initially delayed as a result of Covid-19, with the Regulation 18 Stage 2 consultation being undertaken in October-December 2020, rather than January-February 2020.


Subsequent delays to the emerging Local Plan had been directly associated with delays to the availability of Kent County Council’s Transport Model, and the time required to undertake highways modelling. The Council cannot move to the Regulation 19 (publication) stage without this modelling.


Kent County Council’s Transport Model was originally anticipated to be available in Autumn 2020, however due to a number of reasons its completion took longer than originally envisaged, and therefore availability was pushed back to Spring 2021, then Autumn 2021, to Spring 2022.


There was also a caveat in place in that National Highways must agree to the validated Transport Model due to the lack of capacity on the Strategic Road Network and Lower Thames Crossing. As such, work cannot proceed from one stage to the next until National Highways are content with the modelling.


Upon completion of the modelling, Officers will need to undertake further work on the review of the Local Plan Core Strategy and Site Allocations, prior to these documents being subjected to Sustainability Environmental Assessment (SEA), Sustainability Appraisal (SA), and Habitat Regulations Assessment (HRA).


The report detailed the proposed timetable for preparing the emerging Local Plan in comparison to the timetable adopted as part of the Local Development Scheme in October 2019. The intention will be to publish a revised Local Development Scheme which will include the proposed new timetable.


The Cabinet expressed concern regarding the slow rate of progress with the Local Plan however acknowledged that the delay was now due to external agencies/factors which were out of the Council’s control. The Cabinet stated that it was important for the Borough to have a sound Local Plan otherwise the risk will be that development will take place on sites where the local community don’t want it to; local people should be able to determine planning based on local need, aspirations and desire for their local area/community.


It was proposed that if there were any further delays towards the end of the new proposed timetable then the Council should consider submitting the Local Plan in its current form at that time as it was felt that any further delays would result in new issues/requirements being raised.  If the Local Plan was found to be unsound and, therefore, taking future development out of the Council’s control then the Council will need to publicise the reason for that.


The Assistant Director (Planning) advised that the team regularly meets with Kent County Council and the consultants to ensure that the transport modelling stays on track and that she will request a progress report to confirm that the technical work is providing the Council with the information it requires within the agreed timeframe. A copy of the progress report will be provided to the Leader and Portfolio Holder for Strategic Environment, Cllr Lauren Sullivan.


Resolved that the Assistant Director (Planning), in consultation with the Cabinet Member for the Strategic Environment Portfolio, be delegated authority to publish a revised Local Development Scheme.


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