HASSOCKS PARISH COUNCIL
To: All Members of the Neighbourhood Plan Committee (Claire Tester, Bill Hatton, Nick Owens, Ian Weir and Carolyn Barton) with copies to all other Councillors for information.
A virtual meeting of the NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN COMMITEE will be held on Thursday 18th March at 7.30pm.
Parish Clerk 10th March 2021
1. TO ACCEPT APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE.
2. TO ACCEPT DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST.
3. To Elect a Chair and Vice Chair of the newly formed Committee.
4. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION.
5. Terms of Reference. To consider and agree the terms of reference approved by Full Council November 2020(PC20/70.2) (Appendix 1) and to consider proposing any modifications.
6. Developer meeting protocol In accordance with the protocol members are requested to note a meeting was held on 19th January 2021 with representatives of Frontier Homes regarding a potential development on London Road.
7. Policy 5 of the Neighbourhood Plan Enabling Zero Carbon (Appendix 2 to view please click here) when responding to planning applications. To assist the discussion the attached advice has been obtained setting out how Mid Sussex District Council is applying Policy 5 and its own sustainable design & construction policies (Appendix 3 see below).
8. Any other business
9. URGENT MATTERS at the discretion of the Chairman for noting and/or inclusion on a future agenda.
10. DATE OF NEXT MEETING. To be agreed
All members of the public are welcome to attend meetings of the Parish Council and its Committees.
Item 4 – a period of 15 minutes will be set aside for the public statements and questions relating to the published non-confidential business of the Meeting. It may be necessary to consider particular items in confidential session and where this arises, these items will be considered at the end of the agenda.
If you wish to attend this virtual meeting please email email@example.com before 09.00 hrs on the day of the meeting to be sent an electronic invitation by 12.00 noon on that same day.
FILMING, RECORDING OF COUNCIL MEETINGS AND USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA
During this meeting members of the public may film or record the Committee and officers from the public area only providing it does not disrupt the meeting. The Confidential section of the meeting may not be filmed or recorded. If a member of the public objects to being recorded, the person(s) filming must stop doing so until that member of the public has finished speaking. The use of social media is permitted but members of the public are requested to switch their mobile devices to silent for the duration of the meeting.
HASSOCKS PARISH COUNCIL TERMS OF REFERENCE
NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN COMMITTEE
Membership of the Neighbourhood Plan Committee
1. The Neighbourhood Plan Committee comprises of up to seven Council members and three co-opted members (non–voting) subject to a quorum of a minimum of 3 council members.
2. Membership of Councillors in the Committee will be decided at the Annual Parish Council meeting each year, subject to the proviso that the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Parish Council shall, in any event, be ex officio members. The voting rights of non-councillor members of the Committee are limited.
3. The Chair of the Committee will be elected by the Committee at its first meeting after the Annual Parish Council meeting.
4. The Vice-Chair of the committee will be elected by the committee at its first meeting after the Annual Parish meeting.
Conduct of Meetings
5. All meetings of the Neighbourhood Plan Committee will be convened in accordance with the Parish Council’s standing orders.
6. Meetings will be minuted by the Clerk/Deputy Clerk to the Council, another member of staff or a member of the committee.
7. The Neighbourhood Plan Committee is appointed to take the lead responsibility, on behalf of Hassocks Parish Council, for the development and reviewing of a Neighbourhood Plan (NP).
8. Any member of the Parish Council may attend any meeting of the Neighbourhood Plan Committee, to participate in the meeting but not be able to vote. Only members serving on the committee will be permitted to vote on matters being considered.
9. The public and press are permitted to attend Committee meetings, however they may be excluded temporarily if their presence is prejudicial to the public interest by reason of the confidential nature of the business to be transacted. Exclusion will be by a resolution giving reasons for that exclusion.
10. The Neighbourhood Plan Committee is authorised to engage with, communicate, collect and collate information for the Neighbourhood Plan from other parish councils, Mid Sussex District Council, West Sussex County Council, residents, residents’ organisations, business organisations, service providers, land owners and other stakeholders, maintaining proper records of all communication and providing reports thereof for Hassocks Parish Council.
11. The making of recommendations to Full Council in respect of developing or reviewing/amending the Neighbourhood plan and the Councils position in relation to changes affecting the Parish or changes in government policy.
12. To periodically review and propose protocols for consideration and adoption at Full Council in respect of Development/Developer meetings/discussions.
13. Neighbourhood Plan Committee shall be empowered to make recommendations to Full Council to:
Incur expenditure provided such expenditure is:-
Consistent with the responsibilities and areas of operation of the Working group
Within the budget set for Neighbourhood Planning as part of the Council’s overall budget or within any additional budget for Neighbourhood Planning authorised by Full Council during the course of the financial year.
Adopted Nov2020 (PC20/70.2) Full Council
Explanation of how MSDC applies Hassocks Neighbourhood Plan Policy 5 and its own Sustainable Design & Construction Policies and Guidance
Sally Blomfield Divisional Leader for Planning and Economy
Planning and building regulations are two separate regulatory regimes and I thought it might be helpful if I set out the requirements of each below.
The policies on Sustainable Design and Construction in the development plan in Mid Sussex comprise Policy DP39 of the District Plan and relevant policies of made Neighbourhood Plans, which in the case of Hassocks, is Policy 5 of the made Hassocks Neighbourhood Plan.
The District Plan Policy on Sustainable Design and Construction (Policy DP39) is a positively worded policy which seeks to improve the sustainability of developments where appropriate and feasible. Apart from the standard which requires a limit on water usage the remaining aspects of the policy are not prescriptive. Indeed, it is worth noting that at the Public Local Inquiry into the District Plan a modification was required to make that part of the policy regarding energy efficiency less prescriptive.
Policy 5: Enabling Zero Carbon of the Neighbourhood Plan, whilst being supportive of developments which include sustainable design does not set prescriptive standards. Again, it is worth noting that the Examiner’s Report into the Neighbourhood Plan recommended changes to Policy 5 including the deletion of the specification of heat energy requirements on the basis that “the Written Ministerial Statement (2015) makes clear neighbourhood plans should not set out any additional local technical standards or requirements relating to the construction, internal layout or performance of new dwellings. The second is that this element of the policy has not been tested for their potential impact on the viability of the proposed development” [Extract from the HNP Examiners Report].
Although the Mid Sussex District Wide Design Guide SPD includes a new section on sustainability and covers a wide range of interconnected sustainable design themes it does not include specific carbon reduction standards. As you know Supplementary Planning Documents cannot introduce new standards which have not been tested through a District Plan examination which tests their impact on the viability of development. The SPD is however a useful tool in providing guidance to prospective developers about sustainability matters.
I can reassure HPC that Planning Officers do encourage developers to include higher sustainable standards in their developments and that the Design Review Panel, which includes experts in sustainability, also challenges developers to go further. The Council runs regular Developers’ Liaison Group meetings and both changes to Building Regulations and the Design Guide have been presented and discussed at these meetings.
It is interesting to note that Officers are now finding that developers are favouring a fabric first approach towards sustainability – generally this means maximising the performance of the components and materials which make up the building fabric before including other, possibly more visible measures, such as solar panels.
Building Regulations are different in that they set mandatory standards regarding carbon reduction which must be met by developers. Recent consultation over the Future Homes Standard set out the government’s intention to make changes to Building Regulations to ensure an uplift in energy efficiency. The government is proposing a staged approach towards the carbon reduction targets with an uplift of 31% for new homes regulated for in late 2021, coming into effect in 2022 and a total carbon reduction emissions target of between 75% – 80% in 2025 compared to current levels. The outcome of the consultation requirements can be found here. You will note that in this document the government recognises the need to clarify the LPAs role in setting energy efficiency requirements for new homes that go beyond the minimum standards and that new planning reforms will make this clear. In the interim LPAs will continue to set its own standards provided there is an evidence base which supports this requirement. The Council is committed to a review of the District Plan, in line with the timetable set out in the Local Development Scheme. The Sustainable Design and Construction Policy will be subject of this review.
HASSOCKS PARISH COUNCIL
Draft Minutes of the NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN Committee virtual meeting held on
18 March 2021 at 19.30pm.
Attendees: Parish Councillors: Claire Tester, Ian Weir, Bill Hatton and Nick Owens.
Cllr Carolyn Barton joined the meeting at 8.10pm
Clerk: Ian Cumberworth
NP20/1 Cllr Weir introduced the meeting and indicated that as this was the first meeting of the newly formed Committee that it should be moved to nominate a Chair and Vice Chair.
It was moved and seconded that Cllr Tester would be Chair and Cllr Owens the Vice Chair.
20/1.1 Therefore Members RESOLVED to appoint Cllr Tester as the Neighbourhood Plan Committee Chair
20/1.2 RESOLVED to appoint Cllr Owens as the Vice Chair of the Neighbourhood Plan Committee
NP20/2 APOLOGIES: None:
NP20/3 DISCLOSURE OF INTERESTS: None declared.
NP20/4 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION.
There were no members of the public present.
NP20/5 TERMS OF REFERENCE Members discussed the previously agreed terms of reference and sought views as to whether the scope of the Committee should be modified or retained as written. Views were expressed that it could be beneficial for this Committee to pick up responsibility for responding to planning policy consultations to alleviate some of the workload of the Planning Committee as most such consultations have a 6 to 12 week consultation window which would allow the Neighbourhood Plan Committee time to consider any representations. The type of consultations that would be picked up were those on planning policy documents such as the Site Allocations DPD. The new District Plan as it comes forward and any national consultations relating to planning or building regulations matters. Members felt the District Plan review was critical and that the Committee should assess any gaps and whether they impact on Hassocks and what action may be required to close these gaps to mitigate the risk to the parish.
Members RESOLVED to modify the Terms of Reference to incorporate lead responsibility on planning policy consultations and other related issues.
Members discussed the option of expanding item 7 on the Terms of Reference and clarifying what was meant by ‘the development and reviewing of a Neighbourhood Plan’. It was agreed that a full review (including examination and referendum) was not necessary at this stage but that the Committee should consider the effectiveness of the existing Neighbourhood Plan and where it could be supplemented. One area of concern was HNP Policy 5 Enabling Zero Carbon. It was noted that the examiner had amended the original wording of this policy to make it positive rather than prescriptive as required by Government guidance, therefore it was felt unlikely the Committee would be able to strengthen the existing policy to any degree. However, there could be merit in reviewing how HPC use the policy to respond to planning applications and provide guidance notes to help applicants make their projects more sustainable.
Cllr Weir indicated that it would be important for the group to review the emerging government legislative changes that are likely to impact on the reforms of the Neighbourhood Planning system.
Members expressed the view that there may be an increased risk where there has been a delay in build out of larger sites, where smaller sites may come forward with shorter delivery timeframes to backfill this delay in delivery. Mid Sussex currently has the required amount of housing supply, but this situation could change and Hassocks could be vulnerable to such additional unplanned sites.
NP20/6 DEVELOPER MEETING PROTOCOL Members noted that a meeting had been held with Frontier Homes regarding a potential development on London Road shortly after they had sent out a mailshot to a large number of homes in Hassocks. Members were advised that the developers have indicated that they would wish to hold another briefing to advise us of some proposed changes to the original scheme. The Clerk agreed to liaise with members.
NP20/7 POLICY 5 OF THE NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN – ENABLING ZERO CARBON Cllr Tester introduced the item and indicated that this item had created lots of discussion at Planning Committee. To assist the discussion Cllr Tester sought clarification from Mid Sussex District Council as to how they are applying policy 5 and their own sustainability policies.
Cllr Owens welcomed the clarification from MSDC as to how they were applying policy 5 and their own sustainability policies.
Cllr Owens expressed the view that the Climate Change Act is not yet reflected in the District Plan or Neighbourhood Plan. Cllr Owens indicated that both DP39 and the Mid Sussex Design Guide were out of date in this respect and need review. Cllr Owens also referenced a recent letter from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (10 February 2021) ‘Nearly Zero Buildings Requirements for New Buildings. This directive came into effect in December 2020.
The Clerk read out extracts of this letter which was specifically referencing Building Regulation 25A and 25B. Cllr Owens expressed the view that if properties are not designed to meet these regulations these targets will be destined to fail and there should be a duty to meet these standards.
Cllr Tester reaffirmed that Planning and Building Regulations are completely separate regimes and it was possible to secure planning permission without securing Building Regulations at that stage however they would still need to obtain Building Regulations at a later stage. It was therefore not possible to apply Building Regulation requirements at the Planning stage. If a building design needed to be amended to meet Building Regulations, and this amendment was material, then it would have to go through the Planning process again and the Parish Council would be re-consulted at that stage.
Cllr Tester stated that the Parish Council should not try to provide advice to householders on how to meet Building Regulations as that was for their agents and builders to advise them on. However, it could potentially provide a design guide to encourage them to embrace policy 5 and suggest ways that carbon zero could be achieved.
Cllr Owens reiterated that the wording in Policy 5 is not currently in accord with the Climate Change Act.
Cllr Tester advised that the Neighbourhood Plan shouldn’t set prescriptive standards, but it was acknowledged that the Planning Authority (MSDC) was allowed to set energy efficiency standards as part of the District Plan review.
It was indicated by Cllr Owens that some authorities such as Cambridge, Norwich and York had set their own performance standards, possibly using the ‘Passive House standard’ as the baseline. Members sought clarification as to whether this was set through the local plan. This was not known therefore further research would be required to confirm how they have achieved this.
Cllr Hatton indicated that the recently published MSDC Design Guide in section 6 Sustainable buildings simply encourages sustainable design where feasible.
Cllr Owens indicated that there is a definition as to what is regarded sustainable in the 2008 Energy Act, however it was acknowledged that this is non planning legislation therefore may not apply to planning issues.
Cllr Tester stated that the Neighbourhood Plan Policy 5 should be referred to in responses to planning applications, and that this could be as an informative to raise awareness rather than being used to object to planning applications.
Cllr Owens indicated he felt uncomfortable with the lack of teeth and if properties are not energy efficient it is wasted opportunity and this should be done. Cllr Tester reaffirmed that HPC are restricted by the wording of the policy which was influenced by the examiner.
Cllr Weir stated that it is MSDC that determine planning applications therefore it would be helpful to understand how other authorities implement zero carbon policies via their policies.
Cllr Hatton recommended that the Parish Council work with other Parish Councils to encourage MSDC to be more proactive in this area.
Members felt that large sites built out by high volume developers tend to be profit focused therefore less focussed on sustainability whereas Housing Associations appear to be better at meeting the standards as they have tended to focus on smaller build volumes and usually retain an interest long term so benefit from energy efficiencies.
It was agreed that Members of the Committee would carry out research into how those authorities who have set the sustainability standards within their policies have been able to do so, and then the Committee would revisit the issue and re-evaluate the position.
NP20/8 ANY OTHER BUSINESS Members discussed the Site Allocations DPD examination and it was noted that the Inspector had raised some initial question with MSDC regarding the apparent lack of housing coming forward in Haywards Heath and the impact of the pandemic in the slowdown of developments progressing which could impact on the 5 year land supply. Cllr Hatton indicated that it may be beneficial for the Inspector’s letter to be circulated to this Committee’s members. This may have potential impacts for Hassocks.
Members discussed that the strategic site north of Clayton Mills had now been sold by Gleesons to Taylor Wimpy so things may start to progress on this site. At present the proposed development remains the same as that put forward by Gleesons. This will need to be kept under review to see whether any modifications come forward but the Parish should continue to engage with developers to ensure the Council is able to influence the development.
NP20/9 URGENT MATTERS Members discussed the option of expanding the Committee with co-opted Members which had worked very successfully previously. Members felt that this could be explored at a later stage as work streams start to emerge which will then influence the skills set required for the Committee and influence potential identification of co-optees.
NP20/10 DATE OF NEXT MEETING. 29th April 2021.