Wednesday 24 October 2018
Sir, it is with pleasure that I deliver this, my second statement as President of the Development & Planning Authority. My last statement was made in September 2017, and since that time the D&PA has made good progress on a number of fronts.
One important highlight is the publication of the IDP Annual Monitoring Report (the AMR) for 2017 and supporting evidence documents such as those relating to the Main and Local Centres. The AMR contains a wealth of information on how the IDP or Island Development Plan is performing in delivering its aim of creating a socially inclusive, healthy and economically strong Island, whilst balancing these objectives with the protection and enhancement of Guernsey's built and natural environment and the need to use land wisely.
My Committee has considered the detailed data, analysis and findings of the AMR for 2017 and has concluded that, generally, the IDP policies continue to effectively deliver the objectives and proactive elements of the Strategic Land Use Plan (or the SLUP), as intended by the States, to satisfy the objectives of the SLUP and the States' P&R Plan.
I'm pleased to say that the AMR will be included in the States' Billet at the end of November as an Appendix Report and the D&PA has laid a motion to debate this, which I hope Members will support, so that the valuable information in the AMR can be shared with as wide an audience as possible.
The D&PA has also contributed significantly, both at political and staff levels, to the Seafront Enhancement Area programme (or SEA programme). The SEA programme is one of the priorities in the P&R Plan. The D&PA is represented by Deputy Victoria Oliver on the Steering Group that has been established to oversee progress. Our senior officers are also on the staff level working group.
This is an excellent example of cross-Committee engagement. It is also a good example of how the proactive, flexible and permissive IDP which the States unanimously approved two years ago works to support the strategic priorities of the States as set out in the SLUP and the P&R Plan. The D&PA will also of course be solelyresponsible for preparing and delivering the Local Planning Brief required for the Harbour Action Area designated in the IDP, which is a crucial element of the SEA programme and essential in order for the benefits of this States' priority to be realised on the ground.
Other examples of cross-Committee working are our publication of guidance relating to site Waste Management Plans for construction projects, which provide important monitoring information to help inform the States inert waste strategy, and our work with the Office of Environmental Health and Pollution Regulation resulting in publication of guidance on Construction Environmental Management Plans. These plans are an important tool to help manage the impacts of the construction phase of major projects.
A total of just over 20 Development Frameworks have been completed or were within the drafting or consultation process during the last year. Development Frameworks are specific guidance prepared for sites by the D&PA, as part of the proactive and enabling ethos of the IDP. They permit early community engagement, provide greater certainty as to what form of development is likely to be permitted on a particular site and help reduce potential delays at the planning application stage.
Members will recall that the new High Hedges Law came into effect last year. We have dealt with a small number of complaints under that Law, which have all been resolved successfully so far without the need for formal notices to be served. The Law forms an effective backstop and it seems problems are being resolved amicably between neighbours, as was intended.
In addition to all this, our staff held a Saturday morning advice surgery at Beau Sejour in July, which was well attended by members of the public seeking planning advice and they will be holding a similar surgery in December.
This year has also seen planning being dragged into unwarranted controversy having hit the headlines on a number of occasions where facts have sometimes been lacking.
Firstly there have been concerns expressed about perceived 'overdevelopment' in the North of the Island. There have even been suggestions about a Requete being laid to change current policy approaches.
In terms of the number of additional homes actually built in St Sampson/Vale over the last five years, between mid-2013 and mid-2018, this was 58 compared with 136 in St Peter Port over the same period. Neither figure suggests that either centre is, or is likely to be, overdeveloped if these trends continue.
There have also been suggestions recently that the revised housing indicators approved by the States earlier this year mean that less housing is required and current allocations can be removed. To be clear, the indicators are just that, an indication of minimum housing requirement and are not an indication of a maximum target. The SLUP requires an adequate supply of housing land to be identified to meet these agreed indicators and so providing for more than the minimum is acceptable.
I have seen the issue of housing rise and fall on the political agenda with great regularity. To say we do not currently have a housing problem and can, therefore, build less is to take an extremely short-sighted view. A lapse of a major planning permission, such as Leale's Yard in August, can skew the housing figures and, therefore, must not be taken for granted until built.
We have also recently received criticism about the IDP allowing potential for developments that will increase traffic and affect junction capacity in the north of the Island. The cumulative effect on local infrastructure is considered for larger applications and alterations recommended by Traffic and Highways if it is within the ambit of the application or Development Framework.
Turning to our legislative work, legal drafting on the new Ordinance for Certificates of Lawful Use is nearly complete and we expect this to be in force next year. We will also be bringing policy letters to the States with recommendations to expand planning exemptions and also to deal with eyesore sites through section 46 of the Planning Law. There was broad support from the Douzaines on the latter when we consulted with them recently.
For next year, we will be reviewing the Areas of Biodiversity Importance and preparing Supplementary Planning Guidance on Sites of Special Significance.
We are also making good progress in our journey towards on-line applications. We are continuing to work closely with our software supplier with the objective of providing on-line access to plans and the ability for customers to make applications electronically as soon as practical. It is intended to include scope for electronic alerts when plans are revised. This will be achieved at no extra cost to the taxpayer. In the meantime, we have expanded the range of applications we process electronically within our back-office.
We will also be using electronic recording to save resources on minuting our committee meetings.
In conclusion I would like to express my grateful thanks to my strong political team, Deputies Dawn Tindall, Victoria Oliver, Lester Queripel and Marc Leadbeater, and also to our staff who work tirelessly to provide an excellent service. I look forward to taking non-development-specific questions.