To receive an update regarding St George’s Barracks and the Local Plan from Councillor Gordon Brown.
Councillor Gordon Brown, provided the Forum with the following statement regarding St George’s Barracks and the Local Plan:
“Colleagues will recall that the last Parish Forum I reported on the background and progress of the St George’s site and the Local Plan.
Officers are reaching a conclusion on the Sustainability Appraisals covering social, economic and environmental assessments of the individual sites which have been put forward by landowners and developers along with reviewing their viability and deliverability. All of this work is required to develop an appropriate Spatial Strategy as laid out in the Government’s Planning Policy Guidance.
The two larger sites, SGB and Woolfox, which have been put forward required a more detailed assessment for their viability and the ability of the developers to deliver new homes during the Plan period. This is because when the Examiner comes to consider these sites he will need to be provided with evidence to this effect.
SGB has almost been completely assessed based on the November 2018 Evolving Masterplan. This has confirmed that SGB is viable but does require the Housing Infrastructure Fund funding of £30m. To date that bid, submitted in February 2019, has been fully scrutinised by Homes England, both of their external consultants, MHCLG and against the Treasury’s Green Book. Over 200 questions have been asked and the answers provided seem to have been satisfactory although that is difficult to conform. However the bid still lies in the “to be decided” pile.
We continue to lobby government to make a decision, either way, so that we can decide whether SGB can be considered as part of the Local Plan or not. This lobbying has included contact with MOD, Homes England, MHCLG and via the Mayor of the Combined Authority, Cambridge and Peterborough as well as the Chair of the LGA who meets with the Secretary of State on a weekly basis. I met with the Housing Minster Ester McVey and her adviser and they confirmed that our bid was not her desk but somewhere else. I also met with the MHCLG Secretary of State Robert Jenrick in his constituency in Newark, Notts last week. To date no news has been forthcoming. Six bids have been announced as successful but these were on average for about £100m. No bids have been rejected since our bid was submitted in February of this year. The best indications we have is that the remaining bids are with the Treasury for final vetting. We await their decision and we will continue to lobby for a decision.
Woolfox also continues to be assessed based on the information provided by their Agent, most recently a traffic assessment. This information has been on a drip feed basis from their consultants since last September.
The Planning Policy Team will continue to finalise all of the evidence and come to a conclusion on an appropriate spatial strategy
It is still our intention to commence the Pre-submission consultation on all the elements of the Plan including the Spatial Strategy, proposed policies and allocated sites in early 2020 subject of course before that to input from the GIR Scrutiny Panel, then the approval of the Pre-submission Plan by Cabinet and Council, all probably involving additional specific meetings.”
During discussion the following points were noted:
i. If the Housing Infrastructure Fund bid was unsuccessful, the St George’s Project would not be viable and would not be included within the Local Plan. This would cause the Council to look at other sites to meet the minimum development of 160 houses per year.
ii. The existing Local Plan covered site allocation to 2025.