Report to January Parish Council Meeting

Report of Decembers activities for January Parish Council meeting

  1. The Neighborhood plan committee meeting held on 14th December
  2. Apologies were received from Christina Jebb and Neil Hargreaves
  3. Welcome new members
    • Dave Hunt and Neil Hargreaves
  4. The rationale for undertaking our own site allocations and creating site criteria was explained to members (detailed below) as some parishioners have been questioning why we need to undertake site allocations.
    1. when we started this exercise the meetings were dominated by people who wanted their own particular piece of ground to be built on, or even a view that we build a block of flats on the playing field or another view was we were already in all but name part of Stoke so we should join up anyway!
    2. I explained that at the start of the NP exercise the chairman at the time felt that we were in danger of not being able to develop a plan that was truly what the village required for the next 25 years. Naturally, the people attending the first meeting were principally those affected the most. They were either those that wanted to build on their own piece of ground, were related to those with a piece of ground or were against a piece of ground because it was adjoining their property.  Ie they were either biased or would be seen to be biased.
    3. He felt that under those circumstances our neighborhood plan would be open to a legal challenge
    4. I agreed with that assessment but felt that it was possible if we took steps to explain to people what bias and predetermination meant, disclosed any personal interests, formed a non executive committee and if we deliberately did not discuss  any particular sites until we had created our vision and our objectives and from that were able to form our site criteria, it could be done fairly.  If there was a legal challenge we do not want it to be on the basis of what we have done or failed to do.
    5. At that point we were looking at numbers of housing being allocated to us of around the 80 mark.  Subsequently this has changed and the new number of 25 is believed by the District Council to be able to be provisioned by windfall sites.
    6. However this number could change again either if
      • there are numbers imposed upon the SMDC by the inspector if s/he feels that they are inadequate or unfairly distributed
      • or there is a legal challenge where the challenger can substantiate the claim that the numbers allocated to us have not been adequately researched/determined
      •  there is an error in basis for the calculation.  Such as saying that the School is full when we know it is only full because of Stoke on Trent funding the school places which it could be argued is not sustainable
      • another potential challenge could be that SMDC has not done a bottom-up, community by community approach, rather a top down.  Ie how many houses do we need and then where can we place them with the minimum objection? Ie arguing that how can a housing allocation in Blythe Bridge satisfy Brown Edges’ needs?
    7. We are also living in a political era that has seen a massive increase in the target number of houses.  All the main parties want even more houses. The SMDC target might still have to change.  It is essential therefore that we have done our homework properly by
      • identifying the real need  (AECOM) are doing this for us
      • Assessing potential sites according to our criteria
      • Decided which sites would be best for our village based on those criteria
      • All done without bias or predetermination.
    8. I pointed out that we might never need to actually use up any site allocation if our numbers stay the same or are reduced, but if there is any delay in the SMDC local plan or any upward changes in numbers then our plan will have to be taken into consideration by SMDC and indeed by any appointed planning inspector, especially if the planning application is for a protected area such as Green Belt. In effect it will become the local plan for Brown Edge. It is therefore prudent to continue and this is what the Parish Council have requested the committee to do.
  5. The Consultation process was explained and the final  documents presented for
    1. Site Criteria
    2. Green Space
    3. Commercial Zone
  6. Also the papers relating to the call for formal notification of plans etc were presented
  7. Since then we have had some landowners not receive their request for notifications and some other interested parties to request more time as their architects and legal advisors have not been able to complete the work in time.
  8. We have therefore extended the consultation period which also allows us to open a dialogue with residents informing them of where we are and what the next steps will be.
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