Epsom and Ewell Borough Council by b1hRTASP


									 Examination of Stowmarket Area Action Plan Development
                     Plan Document

        Note from the Pre-Hearing Meeting held at 15.00 on
                   Thursday 21 July 2011 at the
        Council Chamber, Council Offices, Needham Market


Mrs Julia Gregory, the Planning Inspector, introduced herself as a
Chartered Town Planner, holding a Bachelor of Science degree in
Geography and a Bachelor of Town Planning. The Inspector is also a
member of the Chartered Management Institute. The Programme Officer,
Mrs Annette Feeney was introduced.

The Inspector asked the Council to be introduced. Mr Stephen Andrews,
Principal Planning Officer introduced himself and his team comprising of;
David McHardy Planning Officer, David Sparkes, Planning Officer and Peter
Freer, Planning Officer. Mr Andrews also introduced his wider team of
Dawn Easter – Economic Development, Dave Benham- Regeneration
Officer, Cllr Stuart Gemmill Portfolio holder and Jonathan Free Head of
Organisational Development.

The Pre-Hearing Meeting (PHM) 21 July

The meeting provided an opportunity for the procedural and
administrative matters relating to the Examination to be explained and
discussed, including the form and content of Hearing sessions. It allowed
everyone, especially those who had requested to speak at the Hearings, to
learn what would be expected, and to raise any issues of concern.

The Inspector asked the Council to confirm that all the legal and
procedural requirements relating to the Area Action Plan as per Annex A
of the briefing note had been met, but any discussion of these matters
would be for the first hearing session. Mr Andrews confirmed that the
Council had met all of Annex A.

The Hearing sessions, not the PHM, would be the occasion to discuss the
merits of the Area Action Plan and the issues raised in representations.
However, an important subject for the PHM would be the programme for
the Hearings, and the formulation of the main matters for discussion. A
draft list of matters, and issues arising under each of those matters, was
made available to the PHM for comment. No comments were made.

Notes of the PHM would be sent after the event to all those who had made
representations on the Area Action Plan.
The Inspector’s role

The Inspector’s task, as defined in the Planning and Compulsory Purchase
Act 2004 s20(5)(a), is to examine the Area Action Plan and, firstly, check
that it complies with legislation. Secondly, it is to determine whether it is
“sound”. To be sound, an Area Action Plan should be justified, effective
and consistent with national policy. More detail on legal compliance and
the concept of soundness is given in the Town and Country Planning
(Local Development) (England) Regulations 2004 as amended, and
Planning Policy Statement 12: Local Spatial Planning. These documents
are available in the Examination library and on the website.

The Hearings would be set up to enable the Inspector to investigate legal
compliance and soundness with those who have made representations,
with the Council and with other persons and parties whom the Inspector
may invite to attend.

After the Hearings, the Inspector will prepare a report for the Council with
her conclusions, and any changes, if possible, which the Inspector
considers are necessary to achieve soundness. The report will be binding
on the Council which should proceed to adopt the Area Action Plan, if
possible, including any necessary changes to it.        The Inspector will
announce at the last hearing session the expected date the report will be
sent to the Council. The Council will be given a period of 2 weeks to
highlight any factual errors or to seek any clarification of any reasoning
before her final report is issued. It will be for the Council to make
arrangements for the publication of that report. The Inspector’s report
will deal only with broad issues that have been identified and will not
comment on individual representations.

The Programme Officer

Mrs Annette Feeney is the Programme Officer for this Examination. She
acts as an impartial officer of the Examination under the Inspector’s
direction, even though she will be based in the Council’s offices.

Her main tasks will be to liaise with all parties to ensure the smooth
running of Hearings, to supervise the programme for Hearings, ensure
that all written and electronic material is recorded and circulated
appropriately, and to oversee the Examination library. Items in the
Examination library will be available to the interested public for reference
purposes by arrangement with Mrs Feeney.

All procedural questions should be directed to Mrs Feeney, and not to the
Inspector. Mrs Feeney is employed on a part time basis but can be
contacted as per the details that have already been sent to respondents.

The Council’s website will also provide information about the Hearings and
any changes to the timetable.
The Examination Library

Mrs Feeney has already set up the library which contains many of the
legislative, strategic and local documents which form the evidence base
for the Area Action Plan. The principle is that all documentation referred
to in the Examination should be available for other interested persons to
read. The library is likely to grow as the Hearings proceed. Any additions
to it should be given to Mrs Feeney, preferably with an electronic copy or
details of web links, so that she can record and number them.

Representations on the Area Action Plan

The publication Area Action Plan April 2010, Sustainability Appraisal
October 2009 and supporting documents were available for public
consultation from 19 April to 1 June 2010. At the end of this period, the
Council were in receipt of 325 duly made representations from 50
separate respondents. 10 of the respondents have recently indicated that
they wish to give evidence orally at the Hearings.

That means that 40 respondents are content for their representations to
be made in writing. The Inspector emphasised that whether made
in writing or orally, representations carry equal weight. This means
that in examining the Area Action Plan, the Inspector will have full regard
to all written representations. All those who have submitted duly made
representations will be given an opportunity to submit additional written
material in answer to the questions which the Inspector will raise under
specific matters and issues (as described more fully below). All those who
have signalled that they wish to be heard at the Hearings will be invited to

Following the Exploratory Meeting the Council produced a Sustainability
Appraisal Report (May 2011) that related to the submission document. 11
representations were received in respect of this document which the
Inspector will take into account in examining the AAP.

If any person or organisation that has made representations as to
the soundness of the AAP , including aspects relating to the recent
Sustainability Appraisal Report wishes to speak at hearings and
has not recently informed the Programme Officer, they should
contact her now as a matter of urgency by Tuesday 26 July at the

The Hearing Sessions

The Hearings will use an “inquisitorial” rather than an “adversarial”
approach. This means that legal representation should be unnecessary,
although it is recognised that representors may wish to be professionally
represented and this is acceptable. The hearings will proceed by way of
an informal, but structured, round-the-table exchange of opinion. The
Inspector will ensure that everyone has a chance to express their views
and participate in the discussions. The Hearings should enable everyone
to ‘have their say’ and enable the Inspector, to understand better whether
the submitted Area Action Plan is sound. Where there is evidence that the
Area Action Plan is unsound, the Inspector will expect to hear discussion
of any changes which might be considered to make it sound.

The Inspector’s duty is to conduct the Hearings in an efficient and
effective manner. To this end, the Inspector will prepare agendas ahead
of the sessions. Agendas will be based on the matters and issues which
have been identified on the enclosed list and will be available a few days
before each session. Participants in the Hearings should direct their
contributions to the agenda items, focusing on the soundness or otherwise
of the Area Action Plan and on any means of removing unsound elements/
securing soundness.

The Inspector has identified the main issues to be discussed at each
hearing session. The allocation of issues to specific hearing days is set
out in the draft hearing timetable along with lists of respondents who wish
to appear in respect of the main issues. Mrs Gregory confirmed that
Peecock and Short should be on the list. Hearing sessions will start at
10.00 hours on the first day, Tuesday 20 September, but may start earlier
on subsequent days. The hearing sessions are open to all, but only those
who have indicated that they want to participate at a hearing will be
allowed to speak. The programme for the Hearings is susceptible to
change, and all participants should keep in touch with the
Programme Officer and the website, to ensure that they do not
miss their allotted day and time for attendance.

The Inspector asked if any of the attendees of the hearing sessions were

Mr John Holden of Pegasus Planning confirmed he would be attending the
sessions. Mr Chris Smith of Hopkins Homes added that another colleague
may also speak. Mr Matthew Clarke of Boyer Planning confirmed that he
may have others also to speak. Mr Andrew Hodgson from Savills also
suggested his colleague, Mr Colin Campbell may attend. Mr Nick Perks
from Stowupland Parish Council would attend. Mr Richard Turner of
Stowmarket Multi-modal Distribution Park would attend. Mrs Susan Leigh
also introduced herself and confirmed her attendance.

The Inspector asked if any others present wished to attend?

Mr Neil McManus of Suffolk County Council expressed that the County
would attend sessions in support of the Council. Mr Dave Watson would
attend Transport related sessions and Mr John Pitchford would also be

Mr John Matthissen – Friends of the Earth, explained that since making his
representations he has become an elected member for the Council. He
was interested in Biodiversity and Housing. The Inspector asked Mr
Matthisen to contact the Programme Officer as soon as he could to discuss
his position.
Mr Mike Carter of Stowmarket Victorian Quarter Residents Association
stated he had wanted to attend on the 20th/22nd and 27th. Rosemary
Carter and Glenys Francis may alternatively wish to appear.     The
Inspector asked Mr Carter to contact the Programme Officer.

Ms Georgina Challis of Peecock Short had written to the Programme
Officer asking to attend further sessions and introduced Mr Phillip Porter
who would also wish to speak. The Inspector said that her request would
be considered and the Programme Officer would reply in due course.

Site Visits

The Inspector stated that she had already carried out some preliminary
site visits, but will carry out more before and during the Hearing sessions.
These will be carried out on an unaccompanied basis unless it is necessary
to go on private land to see the relevant features. If accompanied visits
are deemed necessary, the Inspector should be accompanied by a
representative of the landowner and the Council. Arrangements for any
accompanied visits will be made through the Programme Officer.

Mr Stephen Andrews confirmed that the Council would assist making
these arrangements.

Further Written Statements

The Inspector would invite the Council and representors to submit
statements which relate to the Inspector’s matters of concern. The
Inspector will identify the key issues under each matter and ask a series
of questions which the statements should address.

The Inspector stated that she wished to add a few more questions to her
draft with regard to GoEast letters, PPS25 – flooding, environment,
employment and transport issues. The Inspector also advised that she
would also explore if the Mill Lane site would be port related and under
Transport if the Council has the resources to deliver Strategic objective 5
of the plan. Mr Mike Carter asked if flood risk would be dealt with under
the general section. The Inspector confirmed it would be. These would be
sent out to all with the amended programme after Tuesday next week.

The statements should specify any changes to the Area Action Plan which
are considered necessary to make it sound. The submission date for
statements was discussed and it was agreed that the statements should
be submitted to the Programme Officer by Friday 2 September 2011,
rather than Thursday 1 September 2011.

Where possible emailed electronic versions of all statements should be
sent to the Programme Officer in word or PDF version. The statements
should be as short and sharp as possible. Experience suggests that there
is no need for them to exceed 3,000 words. All statements should be
clearly marked with the representor’s name and the reference number
should be shown on the top right hand corner of each page. It should be
clear to which matter the statement relates. A4 paper size should be used
throughout and statements should be stapled not bound. Paragraphs
should be numbered. If references to external documents which are not
contained in the Examination Library are made, the source should be clear
to the reader and short extracts only should be attached as appendices to
the statement.

Mrs Gregory also referred to the Planning for Growth consultation that she
had asked the Council to carry out via its web site. She would take into
account any representations made as a response to that exercise in her
examination of the AAP. Discussion of that matter would take place as
part of the Employment Hearing session.

Changes to the Area Action Plan

The Government’s Planning Policy Statement 12 states that the starting
point for the Examination is the assumption that the local authority has
submitted what it considers to be a sound plan. The Council confirmed
that the Proposed Submission Document, April 2010, along with the list of
proposed minor changes from the proposed submission (November 2010)
is the starting point for the Examination.

Any changes which are put forward to that document should only be put
forward to make it sound. Thus minor word changes or changes to make
the document “more sound” should not be contemplated at this stage. It
may however, be necessary to update the Area Action Plan because
national planning policy has changed. The Inspector considers that minor
changes of this sort should be made.

Minor changes which do not alter the sense of a policy or text do not need
to be subject to consultation and revised Sustainability Assessment (SA).
As they do not address matters of soundness, they will not be the subject
of discussion in the Inspector’s report. The Council is to keep a separate
running list of all minor changes. The Inspector stated that the position of
the RSS in the plan will also be discussed.

If substantial changes are proposed to achieve soundness, the
requirements for public consultation and SA will have to be considered
before the changes are progressed. Additional public consultation or SA
can delay the process of examination. The Inspector will only recommend
a change to the submitted plan if the change is itself sound.

The PHM was closed at 16:00

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