Agenda item

Members' Questions on Notice

To receive questions from Members under Rules 4a.20(b)-25


Three Questions on Notice had been received.


1.  Councillor Mike Croker asked Councillor Lynn Lambert, Cabinet Member for Planning & Development, the following question:


I note from Appendix 3 of the ‘Local Plan Evidence Base Summary' of the proposed Regulation 19 Horsham District Local Plan that was presented to Cabinet at Agenda Item 6 on 15 July that a Sustainable Design and Construction Supplementary Planning Document was apparently in preparation by somebody known as 'CSE'.  I also note in paragraph 9.7 of the draft plan that 'A Climate Change Supplementary Planning Document, to support Policies 36, 37 and 38 will provide further guidance on these matters'.


Please can the Cabinet Member for Planning & Development say when the drafts of these documents will be available for members' and/or public scrutiny?’


The Cabinet Member replied:


‘As you note, it is the Council’s intention to produce a Supplementary Planning Document on Climate change matters in order to support the Local Plan once it is adopted. We have started work on this at an early stage so that we can hit the ground running once we have a local plan in place.


The purpose of SPDS is to provide guidance on how to use or interpret planning policies. They do not set policies themselves. Therefore we cannot progress the SPD until we have a new Local Plan in place – until that time the policy wording could change or there may be updates from government which lead to policy changes.   


I am very happy to ensure that Members are involved in this process. However, this will need to follow the adoption of the plan which is programmed for 2023.’


In reply, Councillor Croker asked a supplementary question:


Will the Cabinet Member consider consulting Members about the SPD prior to 2023?


The Cabinet Member replied:


As already outlined the policy framework can be changed by the inspector or updated by government guidance during the Local Plan examination. This will mean updates to the SPD would be needed as well – making comments at this stage premature and possibly abortive.  


In addition, the Local Plan staff are now fully committed on Local Plan review work and we cannot resource additional work on other matters at this point in time.’



2.  Councillor John Milne asked Councillor Lynn Lambert, Cabinet Member for Planning & Development, the following question:


It has been determined in 3 recent planning appeals that HDC can no longer claim a 5-year-land-supply, with significant negative potential for the district.


HDC’s calculation in all 3 appeals counted 5 years forward from a base date of 1 April 2020, which was the most up to date figure available at the time.


However, the housing delivery figures to 31 March 2021 should now be finalised or about to be. According to planning guidelines, we can now legitimately advance the calculation by one year and switch to a 1 April 2021 base date, as will also be used in the Annual Monitoring Report (AMR) later this year.


Can the Cabinet Member confirm that this approach will be adopted forthwith, and that further planning applications can thereby continue to be determined on the premise that HDC once again has a 5-year-land-supply?


The Cabinet Member replied:


‘Following the 3 recent appeal decisions at New House Farm, Horsham; Rascals Farm, Southwater and Sandy Lane, Henfield, it is confirmed that HDC no longer has a 5 year supply. The conclusions of these inspectors differ slightly but our current supply is between 4.2 and 4.4 years.


You are correct that our next Authority Monitoring Report (or AMR) will include the housing completion figures for the period 1 April 2020 – 31 March 2021. In addition, the base date for the new 2021 AMR will be rolled forward to 1 April 2021.


However, it does not follow that a 5-year supply figure is automatically re-instated once the base date moves and the new 5-year supply figure us calculated. 


As you may be aware, our housing completion figures are finalised by WSCC. This work has not yet been completed.  I am therefore not able to comment on whether or not we will have a 5-year supply when the next AMR is published.’


Councillor Milne responded by saying there were three reasons to argue that our 5-year supply would materially improve.  Firstly, the 700 houses that the inspectors had judged inadmissible were still part of our future supply and it was reasonable to expect them to be included in the next 5-year supply. Secondly, the impact of Covid in 2020/21 led to the delivery of approximately 250 fewer houses than our annual requirement; 2020/21 will be replaced by 2025/26 in the next calculation, which should have higher totals.  Thirdly, the 100 houses granted on appeal at Rascals Farm could now be added.   Councillor Milne concluded that, given the above, our apparent shortfall should become marginal or disappear altogether.  He urged the Council to take a robust approach and continue to claim a 5-year-land-supply.


3.  Councillor Bob Platt asked Councillor Lynn Lambert, Cabinet Member for Planning & Development, the following question:


The Horsham District Draft Local Plan 2021-38 is currently under review to meet the new requirements of the NPPF, including a Review of the Sustainability Appraisal to take into account a 30-year vision.  The Government seems to have done HDC a favour by changing the NPPF to include a 30-year vision for strategic sites, as it has, firstly, given us 4 to 5 months to think the Plan through and secondly, reminded us that by 2050 the United Kingdom should be carbon net zero. As there is no point in waiting until 2039, should not the new draft Local Plan require all new builds to be carbon neutral in operation, thereby not adding to the massive housing retrofit requirement that will be needed in Horsham District?’


The Cabinet Member replied:


‘Iagree that the issue of climate change is very important. Whilst it will ultimately be a matter for the Council to agree the policies on this and other topics, officers drafting the plan are already aware of the need to avoid adding to the need to retrofit existing stock and are drafting policies to ensure that local and national carbon net zero targets can be met. This includes a commitment to ensuring that from 2025 (which, by the time the plan is adopted will be when most of the new homes are built from), new build can meet net zero carbon in their lifetime and thereby removing the need for costly retrofitting. 


In addition, I can confirm that as part of the further work on the 30-year vision for strategic sites, the longer term need to achieve carbon net zero in that timescale is a key consideration.’