To consider the report of the Chief Planning Officer on the Local Plan Update 2 presenting the proposed scope and topic papers for comment, prior to these being developed into consultation material which will be brought back to a future DPP meeting.
The report of the Chief Planning Officer presented Members with the proposed scope and topic papers of the Local Plan Update 2 for comment, prior to these being developed into consultation material which will be brought back to a future meeting of the Development Plan Panel.
The Group Manager for Policy and Plans provided an overview on the process undertaken in 2020, which looked at what parts of the Local Plan might need to be reviewed. Consequently, Local Plan Update 1 (LPU1), focusing on the climate emergency, is underway. The next stage, Local Plan Update 2 (LPU2) can consider wider topics, and was presented to Members at this early stage as an opportunity to update and streamline polices and agree the key issues to focus on in advance of new or revised polices. The aims of the overall LPU are to ensure consistency with national policy and create a concise, effective approach. The risks noted for this were viability, scale of the scope and rapidly changing national policy which may limit the powers of the council. The overall plan period for Local Plan Update covers 2022 to 2040 and work will involve: creating a headline list of policies, developing an evidence base, public consultation and submission to the Secretary of State prior to adopting the plan.
Officers within the planning department presented the proposed areas for consideration under LPU2, outlined as:
· Spatial strategy for Leeds to grow, meeting social, economic, and environmental objectives. A wide range of factors and the implications these have on viability and policy will need to be considered, including, accessibility, regeneration, land supply and greenbelt with the need to explore a wide range of options and their merits.
· Housing requirements were currently set through Core Strategy policy and Site Allocation Plan, as agreed in 2019. LPU2 policy will aim to target structural changes within the housing market of recent years within the constraints of current land supply which heavily focuses on inner Leeds and the city centre, with half of new housing being flats or apartments; land allocation in response to this may require release of Green Belt. The Core Strategy housing target will be replaced by Government methodology for Local Housing Need, with an additional 35% increase because Leeds is a large urban authority. A new updated Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) will be commissioned in order to understand local needs.
· Affordable housing provision currently did not meet demand so all delivery mechanisms will need to be maximised, such as policy H5 and section 106 agreements. Viability and other challenges can affect provision, but the planning system has some control regarding location, size and type to try improving delivery, but the city centre has a focus on high rise build to rent which is often not affordable. A first time buyer’s policy was proposed which requires 25% of all affordable homes to be secured as First Homes with a minimum discount of 30% below market rate. Local thresholds, criteria and household income will be considered as part of LPU2 to define local need.
· A revised approach to economic development was outlined and land allocated for employment use requirements extended to 2028. Factors such as Brexit, the pandemic and cost of living crisis have changed the economic landscape and sustainable, localised growth will be an aim of the revised polices to safeguard existing industrial sites across Leeds while also reviewing future sites and requirements for local employment.
· The role of local town centres, including the city centre and the need to safeguard the activity and business within them was outlined as a key policy consideration. The following was noted to achieve this; the Government’s permitted development within its Use Class E, consideration to update the boundary of the city centre, mixed use site allocations and hot food takeaway restrictions.
· The Natural Recourses and Waste Local Plan that was adopted in 2013 was considered to largely still be appropriate although some revision to protect and ensure an adequate supply of aggregates and a plan for sustainable movement of minerals, a move to marine aggregate was proposed. A new policy for the control of fracking was also considered appropriate for the LPU2 and a revision of the methods for identifying waste forecasts.
· The approach to transport and accessibility was noted to be under review which will feed into the spatial strategy approach and also the 20 minute neighbourhood plans being taken through LPU1. Accessibility and connectivity of a site will assist with identifying the appropriateness for development. The current T24 policy for carparking will be revised to take a restrict rather than provide parking approach and Active Travel policy will be explored to feed into the Best City Ambition and reduce commute times across the city.
· The non-strategic development management policies will also be under review as part of LPU2 as the 5 local plan documents are currently considered to be difficult to navigate and officers will reflect on the role of each one while taking account of changing national policy. Work on the other topic areas of LPU2 will feed into the creation and revision of policy.
The next step for LPU2 will be to bring it back as an item to Development Plan Panel on the 31st of January 2023, after consideration of Members comments, and then to Executive Board on the 8th of February 2023 with public consultation to begin around February or March 2023.
Members discussed the following key matters:
· The need for accessible information for the public in regard to the spatial strategy (and evidence like the SHMA) with a clear timeframe for consultation. Officers confirmed a brief overview document will be created for the public prior to the consultation period and noted that the plan period for LPU2 will be the same as LPU1.
· Support for the revised approach to affordable housing was given although it was questioned whether the percentage discount from market rate will be able to go further as the need is there and build to rent currently dominates for new developments. As the 80% of market rate pricing was confirmed to be nationally set policy it will limit powers of reducing prices further, but social rented targets can be prioritised as an objective.
· Previously local authorities would assess their own housing needs, the current government approach to housing needs methodology reduces the intricacy of the local approach and aims to ensure that nationally we build approximately 300,000 new homes each year; once a SHMA has been conducted national policy may be in a position to respond to the data which will outline evidence based community need.
· Disparity in density and housing type between the inner city and outer areas was noted and an ambition of the LPU2 should be to reduce this which will bring families closer to the city and create more affordable housing in outer areas. The SHMA will provide information that will assist with balancing housing provision and the plan will also need to consider density and infrastructure to be appropriate for each site although it was noted by officers there are issues with land acquisition and value which can disconnect land supply and affordable housing provision. Members outlined that neighbourhoods should be created on a needs basis, in line with the 20 minute neighbourhood ideal, rather than dictated through national policy.
· The order of hierarchy for land allocation was queried as there are varied ambitions and targets across the city which may compete for space, such as green infrastructure, employment and flood zones. Officers outlined that the essence of the Leeds planning system was to best allocate and use land and sustainability appraisals help identify optimal social and economic outcomes within given parameters. As part of the ongoing consultation process the Panel can set clear objectives to effectively manage land allocation and could prioritise uses to shape Leeds positively and reassure citizens the correct land is safeguarded.
· Members questioned how viability is determined and how smaller developers could have improved opportunities. The LPU2 can take a more prescriptive strategic viability approach to determine what should be on each site and how it can be achieved.
· If greenbelt land is to be released for alternative uses, there must be some order of priority given depending on functionality. When considering reallocating green belt officers should endeavour for evidence and sustainability proposals to set out options for delivery and this will be done on an evidence based approach.
· Accessibility for people with disabilities for all developments must be sought as is often not the case for inner city or far outer developments; core strategy polices consider this issue but through the consultation period of LPU2 it will provide clarity as to where there are shortfalls.
· How the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) transport plan will tie into the updated policy was queried with officers noting that the WYCA plans are not yet definitive but transport hubs were intended to be set up in key economic locations and West Yorkshire has good grouping discussions and there is a duty to co-operate to improve local travel systems. New polices should reduce the need to travel for employment and amenities and assist with creating 20 minute neighbourhoods and maximise public transport efficiency through developer contributions.
· Protecting the economy in Leeds can be done through localisation and safeguarding industrial sites. While the council’s powers may be limited as to which businesses involve themselves in the Leeds economy and where the money goes, inclusive growth and thorough consultation will be promoted to appeal to a broad range of businesses.
· Despite changes to government legislation in regard to fracking Members were of the opinion that a focus on green, renewable energy sources should be the priority over fracking. It was noted that future Government licenses for onshore gas exploration will reveal the likelihood of fracking in Leeds.
· The safety of women can be improved through active travel plans and designing out the feeling of not being safe. The planning system can influence how connected a site will be and trust in public transport will need to be earnt.
· The proposed updates to parking policy T24 were generally supported but Members noted that for some citizens of Leeds, predominately in the outer areas, access to a car is essential and they are often required for access to leisure activities. A balance for car use through accessible public transport was noted and scoping and consultation will provide clarity on different communities and peoples car needs to then offer appropriate solutions without polarising the debate.
· Updated development management policies will incorporate sustainability into new estates and assist with the placemaking proposals that are part of LPU1.
Councillor Campbell left the meeting during consideration of this item.
a) That the proposed scope of LPU2, the topic papers (appendix 1) and Members comments be noted.
b) Agreement that the topic papers (appendix 1) are to be developed into consultation material and brought back to DPP for endorsement.