To receive the report of the Chief Planning Officer which provides an update on the latest work on the Local Plan Update, as well as highlights of the Regulation 19 consultation.
The Committee considered the report of the Chief Planning Officer which provided an update on progress with the Leeds Local Plan Update (‘Your Neighbourhood, Your City, Your Planet’), and an overview of responses received to the Publication draft consultation, actions underway in response and an update on next steps
Adam Harvatt, Group Manager, Policy and Plans, attended the meeting and in acknowledging that Members were keen for the Plan to be submitted to Government and adopted, highlighted that the issues and policies within the Plan required careful consideration prior to submission.
The following matters were highlighted:
· From October to December 2022, consultation on specific policies was undertaken using various approaches including drop-in sessions at libraries, shopping centres, presentations to Community Committees, and web based activity through video, webinars, Facebook and social media adverts. 170,000 people viewed the material with approximately 9000 views of the website.
· 550 representations were received from across all wards of the city – 400 smart surveys, 90 emails and 45 Young People surveys.
· Feedback on the methods of consultation showed 86% respondents responded positively.
· Overall there was strong public support for the contents of the Plan – every policy received over 80% support and nearer 90% support for the flood risk policies. Objections were also reported from some developers, the Environment Agency and Natural England.
Specific Policies – the Committee was directed to comments on each of the Policies, with highlights outlined below:
SP0 (zero) – This policy sets out the Council’s zero carbon aspiration. Some negative responses were expressed that it was too prescriptive and repeated other policies.
EN1a & b – Developers will be required to consider zero carbon across the whole lifetime of a development. Some had expressed concerns over the level of burden placed on them and the capacity in the industry and supply chains to meet the net zero target. Officers had discussed this with developers and consideration would be given to how and if flexibility can be built in.
EN4 Renewable – A mix of views that this was too soon or didn’t go far enough were received as well as the need to focus on small scale renewable projects and how to support them. Natural England raised the impact of wind turbines on bird migration and this will require further work as the Council does not hold that evidence.
Water Policies – The proposed policies build on existing measures to ensure safe access/egress for flooded site/homes, to incorporate an assessment of the risk of defences failing and what happens in that instance and to ensure SUDS and storage are used and feed into the SABs. “Water 8” also considered the use of permeable materials and soft landscaping when people reconfigure their gardens/drives. Work could be undertaken with the FRM Team to review guidance.
Green & Blue Infrastructure – The policies relating to green and blue infrastructure form a crucial part of mitigation for climate change and include a requirement for a Green and Blue Infrastructure assessment to support development. They also seek to increase the protection for trees and hedgerows, and to truly justify any removal works; to prevent the loss of carbon sequestration and to ensure the quality of greenspace and its maintenance requirements and increase standards in the city centre.
Food F1 – This policy directly linked to the Incredible Edible Open Forum item with support for food growing - planters do not require planning permission and the policy encourages growing fruit trees and ‘own food growth’.
Trees – Comments received on the proposed policies sought clarity on which trees would be affected, that the suggested buffers would be too onerous and challenged the use of the research undertaken by the University of Leeds as an evidence base – previously the ratio for replacement trees was 3 new for every 1 removed and the policy now proposed 30:1. It was believed the methodology was robust – the policy had been designed to encourage retention of trees but viability would be reviewed.
Place-Making – Place making has important links to climate change and the proposed policies embed the concept of ‘20 minute neighbourhoods’ as well as seeking to ensure high quality developments, to address windfall developments and the location of Drive-Thru amenities. Health Impact Assessments are also to be required for large developments and some concern had been expressed that these were too onerous on developers.
· Comments and concerns will be considered, and where necessary policies will be revised in consultation with the council’s Development Plan Panel.
· Consultation on any revisions is planned for Autumn 2023. Subject to comments, it is anticipated that the Plan will be submitted in early 2024 for examination.
· Nationally, a small number of local authorities are progressing zero carbon policies but there is a risk – according to a written 2015 Ministerial Statement, Local Authorities should not set higher emission standards than those set out in the Building Regulations. Subsequently, Bath and Lincolnshire had their Plan proposals found to be sound by a Planning Inspector, however, another Planning Inspector advised Lancaster that it did not have the authority to set zero carbon targets, showing the divergence of opinion between Planning Inspectors. Officers were encouraged to seek support from the Local Government Association and other bodies.
During discussions with Members the following matters were considered:
Sourcing materials to meet net zero – Developments have to be competitive but meet net zero targets – as soon as developers are required to meet that target, the industry will change to meet the need. Developers concerns that there will be a patchwork of different standards across different local authorities which may lead to supply chain issues were acknowledged. Additionally, the need to retain an overview of developments was noted.
Inclusion of SP0 (Zero) – One Member voiced support for including this Policy containing overall targets at the start of the Plan, acknowledging that there are some planning applications, such as Airports, which fall outside of the remit of the Local Authority - SP0 provides a good grounding where other policies may not apply.
Trees – There was support for the aim of no tree removal as a starting point for the policy. It was noted that the policy did provide for a commuted sum which could be used to support any tree planting works the Council undertook. A comment on other measures to achieve carbon zero, such as moss walls which absorb carbon well and are positive for emissions, was noted.
Allotments on large developments – In answer to a query, it was noted that in drafting the Plan, officers were keen not to limit food growing to allotments, as if you were not a member of an allotment you could not access the growing space, so the Plan supported a flexible approach to food growing.
Wind Turbines - A comment regarding the efficiency of wind turbines placed in a row was noted. It was reported that turbine standing positions had been calculated but work would be done to ensure they are not designed in an inefficient way.
20 minute neighbourhoods – The need for clear communications was emphasised so that residents understood the aim of the policy. The consultation on the separate “Leeds Plan 2040” had received a lot of comments on this issue based on a misunderstanding – the Council did not have the power or desire to prevent or monitor people moving between areas.
Role of the WYCA Mayor – It was noted the Mayor had responsibility and policies for the whole of West Yorkshire and Leeds could benefit from the Mayor’s involvement through the work of the WYCA climate change group and with her support in any discussions with Central Government.
Marmot City Leeds – It was noted that Leeds was not a Marmot City at the time the Policy review commenced, however officers worked closely with Public Health colleagues and would consider what could be included in the Plan to reflect the city’s new status.
Embodied Carbon and the whole lifecycle assessment – Comments in support of the policies, along with a report that at a recent event, developers were positive about embodied carbon and construction, were noted.
Solar and wind energy on small developments – There was some support for a review of the impact of the proposed policy and whether it would limit small developments. Comments reported from local colleges that the right skills could be developed in the city to support the industry were noted.
Permeable surfaces – In response to a query on whether the Council could do more to prevent paving over gardens and drives, it was noted that this issue cross-cut across a range of departments and regulatory regimes. The wider issue was that it was very difficult to monitor what people do with the garden spaces of approximately 400,000 homes in Leeds. The FRM Team had done a lot of communication/education on the need to secure planning permission for the use of non-permeable materials and the value of permeable surfaces for water run-off, and a joined up approach to communications was needed.
In conclusion, the Chair expressed support for the Plan and her desire not to dilute any of the measures contained in it. Turning to the consultation proposed on any revised policies, the Chair requested that CEAC revisit the Plan in the Autumn.
a) To note the contents of the report and the discussions.
b) To note the request for CEAC to receive a further report on the progress of the Plan, timed to coincide with further consultation proposed for Autumn 2023.