Speech from David Gulland at the Special Council of 22 March 2023 around "pausing" the Local Plan process:
"Thank you Mr Mayor
We need to all remember that there are 2 reasons why we are here this evening.
First, the dilly-dallying over the last 3 years by the Tory Government who seem more intent on creating meaningless culture wars than actually trying to sort out the numerous messes our country is in. As regards Planning, they have been trying to have their cake and eat it by issuing confusing and sometimes contradictory statements. For example here they say that they have decided to RETAIN the use of the 2014-based projections to assess housing need, but then say these figures are NOT actually targets. So what are they? They say it is up Local Authorities to work out real need and local constraints.
Which brings me to the second reason why we are here this evening, the lack of leadership and vision from the ruling Residents Association Group. I do like many of them as individuals, but I think the whole process around this, much-delayed, Local Plan shows they lack a coherent set of values and principles on which to base their decisions. In our, the Liberal Democrat, submission we showed that using the 2018-projections would reduce the requirement by around a half. (Incidentally I don't see why the Council needs to do the analysis proposed in (i)© - the numbers are readily available) Given the data in table 3.1 of the draft Plan this more recent projection shows there is no need to build on any of the Green Belt sites identified in the Plan. So why did the RA Group settle on the target set out in the draft, why didn't they decide to quote the Government's own words in here and go for a more up-to-date assessment of need? Why did they only react, with this Motion, once they realised that Residents would not accept their proposals?
As to the actual Motion - answers are needed to questions as to timescales and potential additional costs. I look forward to hearing about these and other ambiguities in the current wording.
Pending further information on those points, it may be simplest for the Council to get on with preparing a Regulation 19 version of the Local Plan that:
One - reflects the reality of the 2018-based projections and so uses a far lower housing target of around 2,500 homes between 2023 and 2043,
Two - recognises the existing importance and protection of the Green Belt provided by current regulation, and not build on any of the identified sites, and
Three - incorporates the other feedback around topics such as the need for social (not "affordable") housing, protection of biodiversity, increased focus on the climate emergency and greater enforcement powers against developers; all points that we made in our, the Liberal Democrats, response.