(Councillors Herdman and Johnson left the meeting during its consideration and took no part in the discussion or voting thereon.)
The report provided councillors with an update on the Local Plan examination and advice from the Inspector to date. The report also sought approval for a response to the Inspector regarding concerns over site BDNEW and the Green Belt in Biddulph and for the draft main modifications.
The Local Plan was subject to examination hearing sessions in October. In January, and in subsequent correspondence, the Inspector had identified a number of main modifications that he believed were necessary to make the plan “sound”. He had recommended the removal of site BDNEW from the Wharf Road Strategic Development Site in Biddulph due to Green Belt and landscape concerns and invited the Council to consider how to address the soundness of the plan in this regard. The Council had also been requested to consider the need for safeguarding Green Belt land so that its boundary can ensure beyond the plan period.
This report considered a number of options and recommended that the Council responds to the Inspector by highlighting a preference for safeguarding land at Gillow Heath (BD062, BD068 and BD087) and increasing the anticipated level of housing growth on exiting allocations; the remainder of the Wharf Road and Tunstall Road Strategic Development Sites. This option increased the overall supply of housing, safeguarded land for potential future development whilst minimising loss of Green Belt
The Inspector would review the Council’s response and determine the next steps. This may include consultation on the approach to Biddulph as main modifications alongside the others that have been identified by the Inspector to date. There was a risk that the Inspector disagreed with, or is unsure of, the Council’s resolution in respect of Biddulph and invited the Council to re-consider, or to subject the matter to separate consultation and potentially a further hearing session prior to consultation on the modifications.
Only following the consultation on main modifications could the Inspector write his final report. Depending, on his conclusions, the Council may then be in a position to adopt the Local Plan. This was expected to be towards the end of 2019 at the earliest.
Members debated the details of the report in depth. This included the ‘safeguard’ of sites, local road infrastructure, the suitability of sites for development and the Biddulph Neighbourhood Plan.
As an AMENDMENT, it was PROPOSED and SECONDED that the report recommendations be deferred for further clarification.
On being put to the vote the AMENDMENT was declared LOST.
It was PROPOSED and SECONDED that the original recommendations contained within the report be agreed.
1. That the update on the examination to date and next steps in the process be noted.
2. That the proposal to submit, as set out in Section 7 of the report, to the Inspector in response to the removal of site BDNEW from the Local Plan and the need to consider safeguarding Green Belt land be agreed.
3. That it be agreed to consult on the schedule of main modifications as set out in Appendix 4, plus any further modifications as agreed under Recommendation 2.2 of the report or those deemed appropriate by the Inspector or minor typographical or grammatical corrections. That is be agreed that any such modifications be approved by the Cabinet Member for Planning, Development and Property.
4. That it be agreed that any “additional modifications” to the Local Plan be approved by the Cabinet Member for Planning, Development and Property so long as they do not affect the substance of any policies or land allocations and may consist of the correction of typographical errors, factual updates and amendments made to ensure consistency.