We really should have a quiet celebration this weekend. Because last week the District Council abandoned the housing figures it had originally proposed. These were the figures that gave almost half – 1800 houses – to Rayleigh.
At the “Local Development Framework Sub-Committee “- the officers gave councillors a written report -you can download a copy of it here.
Here’s a few extracts from the report – (with our comments underneath!)
In June and July 2007, the draft Core Strategy was subjected to 6 weeks of
consultation, which included a series of public participation events, letters to
statutory consultees and those registered on a database, school workshops,
and information on the Council?s website.
…. The council was only going to have one exhibition in Rayleigh – on a Sunday afternoon. But councillors like Ron Oatham and Tony Humphries protested so strongly that they added an extra exhibition during the week.
A key conclusion from the consultation is that a further round of public consultation would be appropriate before the preparation of the submission version of the plan.
… The public were outraged. Especially in West Rayleigh, people felt that we’d already had enough. So the Conservative group knew they had to abandon these plans otherwise it would be political suicide for them here. Especially after seeing Jackie Dillnutt win for us in May!
The volume of people attending the exhibitions varied from venue to venue, with some unexpectedly high turnouts in certain locations.
The council didn’t fully understand that a lot of residents were really concerned about this.
The issue that by far and away elicited the most responses was that of the location and numbers of new housing. 459 representations related to this issue, 327 of which were objections, 114 comments and 18 in support. A large proportion of representations on this section were people objecting to addition development in their area of residence, the majority of which were objections to the allocation for Rayleigh, or respondents promoting development o n particular sites.
Like we said, people were really upset about this.
…responses from statutory consultees, [including Government Office for the East of England ], suggest that more detail is required at the Core Strategy Preferred Options stage than was provided in the Council?s draft. Comments from GO East suggest there is a high risk that if the Council were to proceed to Submission Stage from this Preferred Options draft the Core Strategy would ultimately be found unsound. In addition, a report published by the Planning Inspectorate in June 2007, explains the importance of ensuring that evidence is complete on the submission of the plan.
Now this is really important . It turns out that the government was also unhappy that there wasn’t enough detail in the council’s document – there’s wasn’t any sound basis for the 1800 figure and all the others. It shows that Cllrs Chris Black and John Mason werreright when they complained about a lack of detail back in the spring!
The production of a revised Core Strategy Preferred Options document and subsequent community involvement exercises, will be largely undertaken by the Council?s Planning Policy Team. However, resources will be required to prepare additional baseline reports, including a retail study, pitch/open space provision, and sustainability appraisal and environmental assessment of the revised document. The costs of this work can currently be met from Planning Delivery Grant.
the council will probably need to hire consultants to do this work
The delay in producing the submission version of the Core Strategy requires a revision to the LDS timetable and this may impact on the award of Planning Delivery Grant.
This delay is going to cause the council – and residents – money, because the government will redce it’s grant to us because the council is falling behind schedule .
It is proposed that the Sub-Committee recommends
That a revised Core Strategy Preferred Options document be prepared, having regard to the results of recent community involvement, and an improved evidence base.
So there is a going to be ANOTHER consultation – probably next spring. It looks like it will suggest more than one option ( the Conservatives new figures will be one of those options). It also looks likely that it will go into much more detail – suggesting actual sites, with numbers of houses and numbers of flats etc
There’s a long way to go yet, but it seems that all the pressure we put on the Conservatives and all the effort to keep the issue high profile has paid off. Now there’s the possibility of getting some cross-party co-operation on this. In a future post we’ll look at the council’s “Urban Capacity Study” which will have a big influence on where homes will be built.