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Neighbourhood Plan advisory committee report to Full Council on 12th December

The Advisory Committee was established by the Full Council to quickly review the draft plan and bring recommendations to Full Council for discussion and possible approval so that a Council approved plan can be taken into account by Rushcliffe Borough Council when it publishes the Local Plan Part 2 which is expected in the first few months of 2017. The committee also notes that it and Keyworth Parish Council are not the local planning authority such that the Neighbourhood Plan does not prevent or permit any specific development but serves to ensure that the local community is able to provide input to the Local Plan Part 2 created by Rushcliffe Borough Council.

The committee met as planned on 15th November in order to reflect upon comments made at the Full Council meeting of 7th November and consider any correspondence. The draft minutes of this meeting have been published promptly according to Council procedures.

The revised draft Neighbourhood Plan has also been published as promised along with a small list of further very minor revisions that deal with ensuring consistency and typographical corrections. These changes do NOT include of any material policies or site plans. As our advisors Urban Imprint have to update the document it was felt that to delay the discussion of the plan until next year, when all these had been included, was unnecessary.

The committee also acknowledges the huge amount of valuable work done by the Steering Group over the past 4-5 years and presents the revised plan tonight which retains virtually all key policies un-amended; confident in the belief that we have worked within the terms of reference agreed in September. All should note that the recommended sites are in the appendix and as such are little more than expressed preferences as compared to the policies which carry most weight. The objective tonight is to gain support for the plan from the Parish Council; support that clearly was not evident when the original plan was discussed by Council in July and September which led to the formation of the Advisory Committee. Managing the risk of significant over-development appeared to be the overriding priority during the Council's discussions.

The committee also acknowledges and notes the recently received item of correspondence on behalf of a group of 29 individuals and a number of items of correspondence from individuals (most of which are also part of the group of 29) which questioned, commented upon and opposed all the proposed changes to the original plan (by asking for the original plan to be approved) and questioned the legitimacy of the revision process.

Many if not all these items appear to represent views from residents located in the immediate vicinity of the Station Road/Platt Lane site which is proposed to be promoted from being recommended for Safeguarding (which, for the avoidance of doubt in layman's terms, means land taken out of the Green Belt and reserved for potential housing development in the future which could take place within the plan period) to being recommended for Housing Allocation in the plan period. Up to 5pm today no other correspondence has been received either for or opposed to the proposed revisions. The committee also notes that the composition of the Council has changed significantly (through the election in May 2015) since consideration of an application for the Station Road/Platt Lane site in July 2013. This application was subsequently withdrawn by the developer.

The committee acknowledges that the recommendation of sites for housing in Keyworth is a very controversial subject and any plan cannot expect unanimous support from the whole community. Some comments to the committee suggest the recommendation of a large number of much smaller housing sites. The committee feels that such an approach is not viable as small developments will not provide potential developers with sufficient income to be able to undertake the infrastructure improvements that adding 450 homes to our village will require and our community will deserve. Consideration of such a significant change of approach from the original draft plan would have been outside the brief of the committee particularly as fresh evidence and public consultation would most likely be warranted. The original plan in fact provided for approximately 43 hectares being removed from the Green Belt. This included 2 large sites with total capacity for between 380 and 430 homes on 25 hectares plus a smaller site for up to 80 homes, whereas the proposed revisions reduce the total to approximately 31 hectares in total with two sites scaled down, the smallest site dropped and the Station Road/Platt Lane site promoted from safeguarded to allocated.

The committee would finally wish to re-state that as the revisions are based upon interpretation of existing evidence, including the original public consultation, that it can see no reason to repeat the consultation exercise and notes that such consultation would delay the progression of the plan through the next stages of development under Rushcliffe Borough Council which would also mean that Keyworth Parish Council would not have formal input into the Local Plan Part 2 which incorporates the Green Belt review.

The committee believe, for a number of reasons, that to delay the plan beyond this point will expose Keyworth to significant speculative planning applications which would have no need to take account of the Neighbourhood Plan as it would not have acquired the status of being supported by Keyworth Parish Council.

The plan if supported tonight and then subject to revisions made by Rushcliffe Borough Council would, we hope in 2017, be subject to a public referendum which presents further opportunities for public engagement in the process.

The committee therefore asks the Council to consider the revised plan as presented which attempts to limit the scale of development and protect as much of the Green Belt as possible given the requirement imposed upon us to find land for a minimum of 450 homes.

Nic Seller on behalf of NP Advisory Committee

12th December 2016

Neighbourhood Plan advisory committee report to Full Council on 7th November

The Advisory Committee met formally on Tuesday 1st November and Richard Mapletoft (Planning Policy Manager, Rushcliffe Borough Council) joined the meeting for the purpose of providing technical & procedural advice. Members' holidays prevented us from meeting any sooner although, due to the urgency to move forward without delay, individual members of the Committee were working on the issues during October.

Advisory Committee members have reviewed the original draft plan, the results of the consultation exercise and other relevant documents including various items from other Council members. There have been no communications with third parties, in particular developers, except for acknowledgement by email of a letter sent to the committee by a member of the public.

Following the feedback upon a working draft revised plan from Full Council tonight, the advisory committee will meet again on 15th November. At this point in time, committee members consider that there is no need to invite members of the public to that meeting. It is hoped that, following that meeting, a new draft plan will be presented to the Council for approval at the Full Council meeting on 12th December.

All members of the committee share a common goal of being able to present a plan which can carry the support of a high percentage of Council members. Council members have all had the opportunity to see the working draft.

The committee is confident that the suggested revisions to the plan do not require any further public consultation as the existing evidence supports the suggestions made. This was a key aspect of our terms of reference. As was mentioned at the previous Full Council meeting, Council members have the duty to interpret the consultation responses and then act in the best interests of our community as a whole. On behalf of all members, the advisory committee has worked hard to enact this duty responsibly.

The committee will also be pleased to receive relevant written comments, specifically regarding the suggested revisions, from Council members which can be considered at our meeting on 15th November. These must be submitted to me no later than Friday, 11th November. I would also note at this point that we have acquired a quote from Urban Imprint to carry out the plan revisions professionally, particularly the maps, which is unlikely to be more than £315.

I do not propose to go through the plan changes in word by word detail now, as you have all had the opportunity to read the working draft. I will, however, outline the rationale behind the main points, which are views held by all members of the advisory committee. After that, I and committee members will do our best to answer any questions you may have.

Our top concerns have been... in no particular order:

  • Reduce the quantity of land taken out of the Green Belt in order to reduce the risk of overdeveloping.
  • Enhance the identification of heritage land with a view to preservation.
  • Support concerns for providing accommodation for the elderly including sheltered/warden assisted accommodation.
  • Not to bring any previously excluded sites into the plan.

The significant suggested revisions are as follows:

  • Remove the small Platt Lane housing site from the allocation because of the many consultation responses that criticised the location as being unsuitable for elderly peoples' accommodation (not on bus route, on steep hillside, remote from village facilities) and because of the visual impact that would result from development on a hillside location. The Employment Zone site to remain in the plan.
  • Remove land to the south of Debdale Lane from the allocation because it was identified as employment land in the draft and so has not had consultation in terms of housing perspective, although the increased traffic along Debdale Lane was a key element against it being developed at all, and because of the many comments about the value of the land as being of important historical, scenic and heritage value.
  • Limit the extent of the development of land off Nicker Hill to maintain key views from the village and to minimise the number of houses that could be built.
  • Maintain the allocation north of Bunny Lane up to the ridge of the hill despite there being many responses that shared concerns for the visual impact of this location. As this land is in the closest proximity to the central village facilities (in particular the health centre), we hope that any development will include accommodation for the elderly.
  • Promote the land between Station Road and Platt Lane from safeguarded to allocated as it is flat and on two key routes out of the village for commuters, well-screened, low-lying and on bus routes, and therefore suitable for an element of elderly peoples' accommodation.

These revisions, if agreed, would reduce the land taken out of Green Belt for housing from 43 hectares to 31 hectares.

Click here to see map.

Cllr Nic Seller, Neighbourhood Plan Advisory Committee Chair