Agenda item


The Development Manager to give a verbal update on Land West of Lytton Way Appeal (Former Icon).


The Development Manager provided the Committee with a verbal update on the Land West of Lytton Way and advised that the developer had lodged an appeal.


Following a period of questions and answers, it was RESOLVED that the update be noted.


The Chair invited the Development Manager to provide the Committee with an update on the Land West of Lytton Way.


The Development Manager reminded the Committee that there had previously been an application for the former Icon site, proposing the conversion of undercroft parking areas into 16 additional flats. The case officer had presented this proposal to the Committee, which subsequently resolved to refuse planning permission primarily due to concerns about the loss of parking. The loss of parking spaces in the undercroft areas was seen as likely to exacerbate existing on-street parking issues in the surrounding area. Discussions with the Chair and Members led to a more precise definition of the affected streets and the reasons for refusal, which was communicated to the developer.


The Development Manager informed the committee that the developer had formally appealed this decision to the Planning Inspectorate of the Secretary of State. The Council received notification that the appeal was valid, although no start date for the appeal process had been confirmed. The expectation was that the appeal would proceed via written representations. The inspector would then review all evidence and conduct a site visit before making a decision which would likely not involve a public hearing or inquiry, unlike the previous case with this site.


The Development Manager estimated that the appeal process could take a minimum of a year, given current backlogs and potential delays due to the upcoming general election. He assured the committee that updates would be provided as more information became available from the Planning Inspectorate.


A Member asked a question relating to the impact of the appeal on any ongoing or planned work on the site. The Development Manager confirmed that the appeal would not affect the original permission, which the developer could still implement. However, the permission for the ground floor flats could not be implemented until the appeal decision was made. He added that it was unlikely that the developer would proceed with any fit-out work on the ground floor until the appeal was resolved, due to the risk of enforcement action and the uncertainty of the inspector’s decision. If the appeal was dismissed, the developer would revert to the original permission. If the appeal was allowed, the council would have to abide by the inspector's decision.


The Chair thanked the Development Manager for his update.


It was RESOLVED that the update on the Land West of Lytton Way be noted.








Update from Development Manager on Housing Delivery Target


At this juncture, the Development Manager acknowledged the significance of the Planning Policy Manager’s update regarding the local plan, which had reached its five-year mark. He explained the implications of this milestone and emphasised the importance of keeping local plans up to date as mandated by the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). According to the NPPF, local plan policies should be reviewed every five years to ensure they remained relevant and effectively addressed community needs, as stipulated under Regulation 10A of the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012, as amended.


The Development Manager reminded the Committee that the Council's local plan, adopted on 22 May 2019, was now considered out of date as of 22 May 2024. This meant that in decision-making processes, the local plan's policies held limited weight. Consequently, greater emphasis must be placed on the policies outlined in the NPPF. This shift impacted the supplementary planning documents linked to the local plan, which also carried limited weight.


He further detailed the procedural steps for updating the local plan, which included Regulation 18 and Regulation 19 consultations. The updated local plan policies would gradually gain more weight as they progressed through those stages until they were formally adopted by the Council, assuming no challenges arose.


The Development Manager highlighted the practical implications of this transition for decision-making. Reports would now focus more on the NPPF, although references to local plan policies would still be made, particularly where they aligned with NPPF objectives. For instance, local design policies and parking standards, though they carried limited weight, must still be considered in light of NPPF guidelines.


Additionally, the Development Manager addressed the requirement to meet housing delivery targets set by central government, introduced in 2018. Those targets necessitated that local planning authorities, including Stevenage Borough Council, met at least 95% of their identified housing delivery target. Failure to meet 85% of this target necessitated incorporating a 20% buffer into housing delivery calculations. If the score fell below 75%, the Council must prepare an action plan and would be subject to the presumption in favour of sustainable development under paragraph 11D of the NPPF.


The Development Manager reported that the council's latest housing delivery test score was 57%, significantly below the required targets. As a result, the Council must apply a 20% buffer to its five-year housing land supply and prepare an action plan to accelerate housing delivery. This score placed the Council under the presumption in favour of sustainable development, which prioritised housing delivery unless there were significant and demonstrable harms outweighing the benefits.


He informed the committee that the Council recently issued its five-year land supply update, demonstrating a supply of 5.59 years for the period from 1 April 2024 to 31 March 2029. Additionally, a housing delivery test action plan was issued on 21 May, outlining steps to increase housing delivery. While the housing delivery targets might take a year or so to catch up, significant developments such as those North of Stevenage and the Matalan site were expected to contribute positively.


He concluded by emphasising the importance of considering the NPPF in decision-making, particularly under the current severe penalty of the housing delivery test. He advised the committee to apply more weight to the NPPF when they made decisions.