To consider a minimum of six weeks of public consultation on the draft Developer Contributions Supplementary Planning Document (“SPD”).
Tom Evans, Neighbourhood Planning Manager and Interim Environmental Planning Manager presented the report to the Committee. The Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) considered the financial or other contributions to mitigate the impact of development.
The Committee was advised there was a request to change the recommendation within the report at 3.2 “Approve the draft Developer Contributions Supplementary Planning Document (Appendix A) for six weeks of public consultation starting 15th August.” To read “12 September” rather than 15 August because there had been updates to the consultation portal that would not be ready until September.
The Neighbourhood Planning Manager noted that there were proposals that the Section 106 funds and Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) would become one, but the work undertaken now was still useful, to be in a position to respond to changes as they came forward. The Committee queried if the merge would be good or bad, and was advised that the intention behind it was more flexibility.
There was some discussed by the Committee, it was clarified that the key audience for the consultation would be the development industry.
Concerns were raised by the Committee on ensuring Section 106 funding was received by the council, it was spent and Councillors were updated.
The Neighbourhood Planning Manager noted that the council had taken a manual approach to managing the Section 106 funding and this had been difficult to keep track of. Specific software was now being used that could be interrogated, this will make for an improved process for the future.
Other Members emphasised the importance of keeping track of Section 106 funding, some had found significant amounts of funding that the community were unaware of. The Committee agreed that a mechanism to make Councillors aware would be helpful and were encouraged by the new software.
The Chair queried if this could be an issue for the planning deep dive. Councillor Tony Dean advised that Phase One related to the planning backlog and perceived lack of enforcement action, but was sure it would be part of the review.
Councillor Steven Edgar brought anecdotal information from his ward where play areas that had been funded via Section 106 funding had since had signs stating they were exclusive for residents only. Play areas were not exclusive.
The Neighbourhood Planning
Manager noted that feedback from the consultation was key and that
it was as much for the Councillors as the community. The Chair encouraged Members to respond to the
consultation to enable amendments to the policy to get things right
for Cheshire East.
Councillor Les Gilbert noted that an annual spreadsheet used to be circulated to Members and it included Section 106 money. The Director of Environment and Neighbourhood Services advised this document had been provided on request for last two-years, it was a manual exercise and the priority was transitioning to new database, the latest information was in transition to the new system but Members could contact the Section 106 officer if specific details were required.
RESOLVED (Unanimously): That
a) the draft Developer Contributions Supplementary Planning Document (Appendix A) be approved for six weeks of public consultation starting 12 September. This includes publication of the associated Strategic Environmental Assessment and Habitats Regulations Assessment Screening Report (“SEA”) (Appendix B); and the associated Equalities Impact Assessment Screening Report (“EQIA”) (Appendix C); and
b) the Head of Planning be authorised to make any other non-material changes to the consultation documents or supporting information ahead of the consultation and prepare any additional explanatory information to support the consultation.