New Local Plan Options
(12) 12. Infrastructure Planning
170. Infrastructure planning is an essential part of the Local Plan process.
171. In order to create sustainable communities it is not sufficient to provide new housing and employment opportunities; we also need to ensure that development is supported by the necessary physical, social and green infrastructure. By 'infrastructure' we mean essential services and facilities such as schools, health, roads, water, gas, electricity and open space.
172. The new Local Plan will contain an Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP) to identify future infrastructure needs for the District and detail where possible the costs, means of funding and timetable of infrastructure provision. This will help to ensure that any infrastructure needs arising from new development are met. This might be either through providing new infrastructure (such as new schools) or by increasing the capacity of existing infrastructure (such as by providing an extra classroom at an existing school). The emerging IDP will form an important element of the new Local Plan at both pre-submission and submission stages of the preparation of the plan. Comments on the IDP will be invited at the pre-submission consultation stage. In its final form, the IDP will ensure that infrastructure is delivered in a timely fashion, whilst ensuring that its requirements will not prejudice the viability of the planned development.
173. As part of the evidence gathering stage for the new Local Plan, a Stage 1 infrastructure needs consultation took place in July and August 2014 with service and utility providers (e.g. health, education, water, gas, telecoms etc.) based on meeting objectively assessed housing need in the District by continuing the approach to the distribution of housing contained in the adopted Core Strategy.
174. This consultation sought responses to the growth levels identified in each settlement in terms of:
- The capacity of existing infrastructure to meet the highest level of the growth proposed by the options;
- What infrastructure will be required to support and mitigate the impact of proposed levels of future development within each settlement (or group of settlements);
- The means by which necessary additional infrastructure might be provided.
175. Information gathered during this initial consultation has been collated as part of the evidence base.
176. The responses taken as a whole:
- confirmed that providers did not identify major infrastructure capacity constraints to the delivery of housing need across the District based on an approach to distributing housing growth which would continue the current distribution strategy set out in the Core Strategy;
- highlighted certain locations where infrastructure capacity may be difficult to create (e.g. constrained village school sites); and
- indicated that more definitive responses by providers would depend on specific site proposals associated with the distribution strategy.
177. A Stage 2 consultation with service and utility providers on the 9 options for housing and employment growth will commence in September 2015. The results of this consultation will inform the assessment of each alternative growth option and the selection of a preferred development strategy. Responses will also help inform a decision on whether a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) should be introduced as a means to fund infrastructure delivery to supplement site specific Section 106 planning obligations.
178. A further Stage 3 consultation will then occur with service and utility providers based on the emerging Local Plan preferred option to draw up a detailed Infrastructure Delivery Plan for incorporation as an appendix to the pre-submission Local Plan.