Agenda item

Horsham Local Plan Review Update


Local Plan Review Work Programme


Officers gave a presentation updating the Group on progress of key elements of the work programme since January. Consultants had been appointed for evidence based research on housing, employment, Gypsy and Traveller accommodation needs and strategic transport issues. Landscape Capacity work and an update of the Infrastructure Delivery Plan was being undertaken internally.  An update of the strategic flood risk assessments also needed to be commissioned to take account of floodplain remodelling being undertaken by the Environment Agency.


The Group noted the updated timetable of items of business for forthcoming PDAGs, which included an update on likely housing requirements up to 2036 at the next PDAG on 25 April.


Duty to Co-operate Programme


Officers updated the Group on a number of duty to co-operate discussions that had taken place with officers from neighbouring local authorities regarding cross-boundary strategic planning issues, including planning for ‘unmet housing needs’.  The discussions indicated that there were a number of neighbouring authorities experiencing difficulty in providing for their full objectively assessed housing need within their own administrative area due to constraints, who will expect Horsham’s Local Plan to consider the extent to which it might reasonably contribute towards those needs.  The degree of pressure on HDC arises because some of its neighbours were constrained by the sea, the South Downs National Park or the green belt in Surrey.


Officers confirmed that duty to co-operate discussions were constructive and on-going.  The Cabinet Member also stressed that HDC were obliged to seriously consider the unmet development needs of neighbouring authorities, but would only provide above its own need if it were reasonable to do so, taking account of local planning considerations.


Draft Site Assessment Criteria


The Director of Place advised that a new strategy for the allocation of potential sites would be developed and was currently programmed for public consultation in October 2019.  All Members would be kept briefed on this process.  There would be dialogue with key stakeholders, including parishes and neighbourhood councils during the plan preparation process.


Officers advised the Group that approximately 500 sites had been submitted for potential inclusion in the SHLAA (Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment), varying from a few units to several thousand. These sites would be assessed using four filters of criteria: 


1.    Suitability: largely derived from key NPPF principles, which ensure the site is suitably located to deliver sustainable development, balancing environmental, social and economic considerations.


2.    Deliverability: at what stage would the site become available for development, how this relates to the five year housing land supply, and are there any ownership or infrastructure barriers to delivery.


3.    Viability: is the site sufficiently commercially viable to provide for affordable housing and all associated infrastructure required as a result of development.


4.    Quality: the importance of the quality of development is particularly emphasised in Chapter 12 of the NPPF. This criteria includes: quality of design, landscaping, integration with and benefits to existing communities, the provision of community facilities, health and wellbeing, the provision of affordable housing and housing mix, the availability of local employment, and the delivery of net gain for biodiversity.


The Interim Head of Strategic Planning asked the Group to contact him with any other criteria they would like specifically considered by the team as part of the site assessment criteria.


The Cabinet Member advised that the draft site assessment criteria would be made available to councillors and stakeholders for comments in due course. Once the final criteria were confirmed the sites would be assessed.  The PDAG would be presented with the results of these assessments later in the year.