1. The purpose of this report is to agree the Council’s response to the public consultation on the submission version of the Cottenham Neighbourhood Plan. The consultation runs for 6 weeks from 11 February to 25 March 2019.
2. Cottenham Parish Council considered in early 2015 the idea of developing a Neighbourhood Plan to provide a more locally focussed set of policies for their parish. An application to designate the whole of their parish as a Neighbourhood Area was submitted to SCDC in September 2015 and the Cottenham Neighbourhood Area was designated on 17 November 2015.
3. Cottenham Parish Council carried out consultation on a draft Neighbourhood Plan in 2017. Officers provided informal comments on the draft Neighbourhood Plan, and on subsequent revisions to the plan that were shared with officers ahead of the formal pre-submission consultation process. A Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) screening was undertaken on a draft version of the Neighbourhood Plan, and a screening determination was published in September 2018.
4. Pre-submission public consultation on the draft Neighbourhood Plan was undertaken by the Parish Council from 19 June until 7 August 2018. Officers provided a formal response to the consultation, providing constructive comments about the Neighbourhood Plan to assist the neighbourhood plan group with finalising the Neighbourhood Plan.
5. On 15 January 2019, Cottenham Parish Council submitted their Neighbourhood Plan to SCDC. Officers have confirmed, as set out in the Legal Compliance Check for the Neighbourhood Plan that the submitted version of the Neighbourhood Plan and its accompanying supporting documents comply with all the relevant statutory requirements at this stage of plan making. Public consultation on the submitted Neighbourhood Plan is therefore being undertaken between 11 February and 25 March 2019.
6. Officers, in conjunction with Cottenham Parish Council, are in the process of selecting and appointing an independent examiner to consider this Neighbourhood Plan. All comments submitted during the public consultation on the submission version of the Neighbourhood Plan will be provided to the examiner for their consideration.
7. The Cottenham Neighbourhood Plan has been prepared by Cottenham Parish Council to provide planning policies for development in the area, with the aim of providing greater clarity when determining planning applications in the area. The Neighbourhood Plan includes 22 planning policies that cover a range of issues including:
(i) Conserving the character of the village
(ii) Providing more housing
(iii) Improving amenities and facilities
(iv) Encouraging employment
8. To successfully proceed through its examination to a referendum, a Neighbourhood Plan must meet a number of tests known as the ‘Basic Conditions’. These tests are different to the tests of soundness that a Local Plan must meet. The Basic Conditions are set out in national planning guidance and are summarised as follows:
(a) having regard to national policies and advice contained in guidance issued by the Secretary of State it is appropriate to make the Neighbourhood Plan;
(b) the making of the Neighbourhood Plan contributes to the achievement of sustainable development;
(c) the Neighbourhood Plan is in general conformity with the strategic policies contained in the development plan for the area;
(d) the making of the Neighbourhood Plan does not breach, and is otherwise compatible with, EU obligations; and
(e) prescribed conditions are met in relation to the Neighbourhood Plan, including that the making of the neighbourhood plan is not likely to have a significant effect on a European wildlife site or a European offshore marine site either alone or in combination with other plans or projects.
(f) the making of the neighbourhood development plan does not breach the requirements of Chapter 8 of Part 6 of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017.
Our Neighbourhood Planning Toolkit includes Guidance Note 11 (What are the Basic Conditions and How to Meet Them), which sets out further details on each of the Basic Conditions. When a Neighbourhood Plan is submitted to the local planning authority it must be accompanied by a Basic Conditions Statement that sets out how the Parish Council considers that their Neighbourhood Plan meets the Basic Conditions.
9. When considering a Neighbourhood Plan, the examiner will assess whether or not the Neighbourhood Plan meets the Basic Conditions. When an examiner recommends that the Neighbourhood Plan should proceed to referendum (if it meets the Basic Conditions, with or without modifications), the examiner’s report must also set out whether the referendum area should be extended beyond the neighbourhood area. Comments made during the current consultation on the submission version of the Neighbourhood Plan, which will be provided to the examiner for their consideration, should therefore address whether the submitted Neighbourhood Plan meets the Basic Conditions and can also address whether the referendum area should be extended beyond the neighbourhood area.
10. SCDC is fully supportive of Parish Councils bringing forward Neighbourhood Plans for their areas, including Cottenham Parish Council’s decision to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan, and officers have been supporting the Parish Council in the plan’s preparation. The Council’s proposed response to this public consultation on the submission version of the Neighbourhood Plan (as set out in Appendix 1) reiterates and supplements comments made previously by officers, both formally during the pre-submission consultation and informally on earlier versions of the plan, where they remain relevant and appropriate.
11. SCDC is supportive of the aims of the Cottenham Plan and our comments are intended to help the Plan to be successful at examination as well as delivering policies that are clear in their meaning and are unambiguous in their interpretation. SCDC recognise the achievement of Cottenham PC in reaching this stage of submitting their Plan to us for examination.
12. SCDC considers that a number of the policies in the submission version of the Neighbourhood Plan, would need to have some amendments made to them for the Plan to be capable of meeting the Basic Conditions. These concerns are set out in the proposed response (see Appendix 1).
13. If the examiner is minded to recommend that the Neighbourhood Plan should proceed to referendum, the Council does not feel that the referendum area needs to be extended beyond the Neighbourhood Area as the planning policies included in the plan would not have a substantial, direct or demonstrable impact beyond the parish.
Decision type: Non-key
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Wards affected: Cottenham;
Notice of proposed decision first published: 15/01/2019
Decision due: 20 March 2019 by Lead Cabinet member for Planning
Lead member: Lead Cabinet member for Planning
Lead director: Joint Director for Planning and Economic Development
Department: Planning and New Communities
Contact: Alison Talkington, Senior Planning Policy Officer 01954 713182 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 01954 713182.