Local Plan – Timetable update from TMBC

Published: 15 April 2018

At the most recent Planning and Transportation Advisory Board (PTAB) meeting of the Borough Council (6 March 2018), members agreed to a new timetable to submit our Local Plan to the Secretary of State by the end of the year and enable us to take advantage of some transitional provisions included in the draft National Planning Policy Framework which was published recently. If those transitional arrangements come into force as expected, and by following the programme that the Board agreed, this would mean avoiding another significant uplift in our housing need assessment numbers.

In September 2017, the Government published a consultation document entitled ‘Planning for the Right Homes in the Right Places’ which proposed a standardised method for calculating future housing needs in Local Plans. For Tonbridge and Malling, this would have had the effect of increasing the housing need by 159 additional dwellings every year representing a 23% increase on our locally derived housing need assessment. This would have had significant implications for the Local Plan timetable. The changes were expected to be introduced on publication of a revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) during 2018.

On 5 March 2018, the Government published further consultations including a revised version of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). This draft included for the first time a proposed transitional period for those preparing Local Plans. Plans submitted to the Secretary of State within 6 months of the final publication of the NPPF would be able to proceed using the current version of the NPPF and importantly their locally derived housing needs and existing evidence base.

The revised timetable means that a great deal of work needs to be done in a relatively brief time period, which has been foreshortened in practice by the uncertainty created by the Government’s deliberation about housing assessments.

What we now envisage is that the Draft Local Plan will be ready to be considered by the PTAB when it meets on 5 June 2018, with a further opportunity at the programmed 24 July meeting to review aspects of the work and consider any parts of the document not entirely complete by the June meeting. The Plan can then be considered again by Cabinet and the full Council at meetings planned for September. In chairing meetings of the cabinet, I allow and encourage debate from all members at Cabinet, thus giving a further input to the process.

Subject to the decision of Full Council there will be a full public consultation exercise on the draft Plan for a minimum of 6 weeks in the autumn before the Plan and any representations received are formally submitted to the Secretary of State.

So, the next key date is the Planning and Transportation Advisory Board meeting on the 5 June 2018, by which time a draft Local Plan document, including new and revised policies, will have been prepared. This meeting is actually an addition to the scheduled arrangements specifically to consider the emerging Plan, given its importance to the Borough. The Board will also receive a refined development strategy derived from that proposed in the consultation document ‘The Way Forward’. You will recall from the briefings in September and October last year that the proposed strategy is in the process of being refined in the light of:

  • the responses received during the first round of public consultations in the autumn of 2016;
  • new and revised evidence as it has become available; and
  • other relevant information, for example, changes in land ownerships and the Government’s ongoing planning reforms.

You may wish to be aware that during consideration of the local plan to date, all Borough Council members have had opportunities to engage with the Local Plan process through the regular updates to the Planning and Transportation Advisory Board, the member briefings referred to, the official consultation exercise and by contacting the Local Plans Team direct.

We will also be arranging for a briefing on the draft local plan at the Parish Partnership Panel meeting, to be held on 14th June, recognising that this is between the extra meeting of the Planning and Transportation Advisory Board on 5th June 2018 and the programmed meeting on 24th July 2018

I hope this is a helpful update in advising you and the parishes of the proposed timetable between now and the desired adoption of the local plan by the end of the year.