Agenda item

Replacement Local Development Plan - Revised Delivery Agreement

To consider the report of the Corporate Director of Regeneration and Community Services.


Consideration was given to the report of the Corporate Director of Regeneration and Community Services.


At the invitation of the Chair, the Team Manager – Building Control and Development Plans spoke in detail to the report, the purpose of which was to seek approval for a Revised Delivery Agreement for preparing the replacement Local Development Plan together with a Covid-19 Assessment.


Section 2 of the report set out the reason why there had been a need to revise the Delivery Agreement and undertake a Covid-19 Assessment.  It was noted that although the preparation of the Plan had been running 3 months behind schedule (this was within the 3-month slippage allowed for by the Delivery Agreement) good progress was being made. The Development Plans Team was preparing to go out for consultation on the 2nd Call for Candidate Sites and further information on existing sites, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit.


During early March, the Council had received correspondence from Welsh Government advising against proceeding with the plan as this was likely to be in conflict with legal requirements set out in Delivery Agreement Communities Involvement Scheme and therefore, the 2nd Call for Candidate Sites did not proceed and the plan was put on hold.  A further letter was received from the Minister for Housing and Local Government in July advising to proceed but to proceed the Council needed to submit an amended Delivery Agreement to address Covid-19, social distancing and the delay together with a Covid-19 assessment.


The scope of the report was outlined in paragraph 2.12 and it was noted that the two documents requiring Council approval would also need to be submitted to Welsh Government for their approval prior to the work on the plan progressing.


It was noted that the Delivery Agreement timetable as a result of lockdown would be delayed by 7 months, with a further 2 weeks added for the consultation period for the deposit plan which would mean the plan would now be adopted in Autumn 2022 rather than March 2022 – the drop dead date for the current plan would be the end 2021, therefore, the Council would be without an LDP for a period of 10 months.


Methods to overcome social distancing issues were detailed within paragraph 2.15 of the report and such measures included longer consultation periods and pre-arranged appointments.


The Covid-19 Assessment document details were highlighted within paragraphs 2.16 – 2.20 and the document provided an overview of the assessment of the evidence base and concluded that generally the evidence base was either as good as it could be due to the lack of new trend data or that it could be updated and would be used to inform the Deposit Plan. The strategy and objective of the plan was in line with Welsh Government aspirations outlined within the Building Better Places document.


It was noted that the strategic policies were found to be sufficiently flexible to deal with what were unknown times and providing a monitoring framework was put in place to reflect associated uncertainties, the Plan would be sufficiently robust whilst setting out a clear distinct vision of what was needed within Blaenau Gwent.  The Team Manager concluded by confirming that the Regeneration Scrutiny Committee had supported Option 1.


Members were then given the opportunity to raise questions/comment in respect of the Revised Local Delivery Agreement.


A Member requested that his appreciation be put on record to the Team Manager and her team for the sterling work undertaken on the LDP over the last year and to date.  The Leader of the Council endorsed the comments made.


The Executive Member for Regeneration & Economic Development advised that an immense amount of work had been undertaken before and throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and the team had done remarkable job.  The situation changed daily and the plan had to be flexible for coming months and include changes such as the impact on the economy and changes in transport – it was noted that there were many elements that could affect the plan. 


However, there were two main areas of importance i.e. potentially the 10 months that the Council could be without an LDP and work would be undertaken with officers and other councils to mitigate this in conjunction with the Welsh Government.  In addition, with regard to enhanced costs due to Covid-19 there may be an opportunity for recompense.  The Executive Member concluded by stating that Members would be updated and receive regular progress briefings.


It was unanimously,


RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted and Option 1 be endorsed, namely that the Revised Delivery Agreement and Covid-19 Assessment Report be approved.


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