Agenda and minutes

Improvement & Review Commission - Local Plan - Saunderton Area Action Plan - Task & Finish Group
Thursday, 22nd October, 2015 6.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber. View directions

Items
No. Item

25.

Apologies for Absence

To receive apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor J Savage.

26.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

Councillor H McCarthy declared that he was the Council’s representative on the Chiltern Conservation Board.

 

The Chairman stated that Councillor McCarthy had not been party to discussions in relation to the issue being discussed at this meeting and therefore Councillor McCarthy had an open mind and was entirely independent.

27.

Minutes of Previous Meeting

To confirm the Minutes of the public meeting held on 7 October 2015.

Supporting documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED: That the minutes of the Improvement & Review Commission – Local Plan – Saunderton Area Action Plan – Task and Finish Group meeting held on 7 October 2015 be approved as a true record.

28.

Minutes of Previous Meeting

To confirm the Minutes of the public meeting held on 14 October 2015.

Minutes:

RESOLVED: That the minutes of the Improvement & Review Commission – Local Plan – Saunderton Area Action Plan – Task and Finish Group meeting held on 14 October 2015 be approved as a true record.

29.

Questions to Planning Officers and the Deputy Cabinet Member for Planning

Minutes:

The Chairman invited the Deputy Cabinet Member for Planning to address the Task and Finish Group by reading out a statement from the Cabinet Member for Planning who was unavailable to attend the meeting.

 

“Firstly, I am very sorry not to be able to attend this meeting as it is only right and proper that you should be able to question me on this topic given that I am the responsible Cabinet Member.  Under the circumstances, I am grateful that the Chairman has allowed me to submit this written statement and I hope that it answers most of the questions that you might have put to me.

As Members will appreciate from the meetings they have held over the last two months, the need to explore in more detail the idea of larger scale growth at Saunderton is an extremely difficult and contentious one. It involves balancing the potential sustainability benefits of larger scale growth of the village and the delivery of much needed additional housing against the key constraints of the Green Belt and the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

You will notice that I have said “explore in more detail” because that is where we are at the present time.  We haven’t yet assembled all the facts and so it is difficult, if not impossible, to weigh the potential benefits of an expanded Saunderton against the harm.  In fact, several local residents made this very point at the public meeting on the 7th October.  The question is how we undertake that research and this is where I think there is some misunderstanding locally about Area Action Plans and Neighbourhood Development Plans.

As you know, we have been working for some time on a New Local Plan and, with any plan-making exercise, options have to be explored, certain options dismissed and others taken forward based on having the relevant information to hand. As you also know, Cabinet made the decision in March 2015 to start to prepare an Area Action Plan for Saunderton to explore the option of larger scale growth.  This decision followed a public meeting at Saunderton in December 2014 where we explained to local residents what was being examined and how we intended to go about the exercise.  However, the use of the term Plan was perhaps seen by many as a decision that there would be greater expansion of the village rather than this process would simply explore the options and establish the facts.

However, shortly after the Cabinet decision in March, we went through a period of purdah prior to the local elections in May.  Then, following the election, there was a change of administration within the Council and the new Leader made clear her desire to make every effort to protect the Green belt and AONB.  That rightly brought into question whether the wider expansion of Saunderton was right in principle and as a result this Task and Finish Group was established to examine this very point.  As a result, there  ...  view the full minutes text for item 29.