Torbay Council has today published the latest version of the Local Plan for consultation.
The latest version, which is available on www.torbay.gov.uk/newlocalplan and in local libraries, responds positively to comments received from the public and from the Local Plan Inspector. It retains all parts in the last version of the Plan which had high support and takes out those that compromised the Bay’s environmental capacity.
The Plan no longer includes environmentally sensitive sites, such as land south of White Rock. The Local Plan Inspector advised that more evidence would be needed about those sites if they were to remain in the Local Plan. However, that evidence would take about a year to produce, under Natural England’s requirements, which would delay the Local Plan considerably, so the council has removed these sites.
The Plan does include all the town centre sites shown in the Torquay and Paignton Town Centre masterplans. The council adopted these masterplans on 1 June 2015 and is now moving forward to deliver them. Progress on these masterplans is exactly what the Local Plan Inspector required.
The target number of additional jobs has been slightly reduced from 5,000 – 6,000 to 5,000 – 5,500 by 2030. This reflects evidence of likely economic growth, but remains realistically ambitious. It remains a priority of the Plan to secure economic recovery and growth in the Bay.
Due to the loss of sites from the Local Plan, such as land south of White Rock, the council has reduced the total number of new homes to 8,900. It has also reduced the Plan period to 2030, rather than 2032. This means that the pace of delivery of new homes, around 480 homes per annum, remains much as it was before and is much the same as the Inspector required.
During the next five years, and given market conditions, the council expects to see the creation of around 1,250 – 1,500 new jobs. Many of these jobs will be on sites such as Edginswell Business Park, White Rock (including a new innovation centre), Claylands and town centres sites. At least 2,000 new homes are to be built during the next five years and these will be on sites that already have planning permission or on sites already allocated in the existing Local Plan.
The Plan must have a minimum of 15 years ‘life’ after it has been adopted. Working on the basis that this will be by the end of this calendar year, the Plan will span until the end of the 2030/31 financial year.
The latest Local Plan also gives a slightly extended period for neighbourhood forums to produce draft Neighbourhood Plans for formal consultation to 31 March 2016. Neighbourhood Forums now need to concentrate on producing their plans, in general conformity with the latest version of the Local Plan. The Local Plan Inspector is worried, given the opposition of neighbourhood forums to the Local Plan, that Neighbourhood Plans will undermine the Local Plan. If the Local Plan Inspector is not assured that Neighbourhood Plans actually help deliver the Local Plan, then he may not allow the Local Plan to be adopted.
Councillor Mark King, Executive Lead for Planning, Transport and Housing, said: “We remain firmly committed to producing a new local plan as quickly as possible. This revised Plan provides clarity and certainty to our communities and investors about growth in Torbay, as well as what is required to respect the Bay’s unique environmental qualities. This shows the council has listened to the community’s views and comments from the Inspector. I urge Torbay’s resident and business communities to show their support for the new Plan.”
The new Local Plan can be viewed on www.torbay.gov.uk/newlocalplan and comments, specifically on the replacement Main Modifications, must be submitted by 9am on Monday 3 August 2015.