4.1 Officers from Planning welcomed the invitation to provide an overview of the opportunities to use their corporate work to address climate change both in terms of vision for growth and decision making.
4.2 Planning officers gave a presentation on the technical aspects of the planning system and what is achievable under planning, using agenda item 4 as a reference. There were several points and actions raised see below.
4.3 Cllr Tranter asked how we ensure that we maintain the competitiveness of developments whilst also ensuring that climate change measures are incorporated. Planning confirmed that a requirement of the Local Plan is to undertake a viability assessment which takes into consideration policies, national minimum standards and expectations from developer contributions. Officers are currently working with a consultant to develop a viability assessment which will still allow the Local Plan to be deliverable.
4.4 With regard to the plans for the new sports centre at Hoo, Cllr Gulvin asked if opportunities for Combined Heat and Power (CHP) will be considered along with the possibility of exporting some of the energy generated from this site to supply facilities in the local area including residential properties. Planning officers confirmed that consideration of heat district networks is included in the master planning of the new settlement at Hoo.
4.5 Medway Youth Council queried why progress on the carbon fund has not been made since 2010. Planning officers confirmed that timing may have been an issue due to recession, changes to the Local Plan and policy updates and potentially insufficient resources given the scale of the work required to take forward. However, the Council are in a better position to explore this now. Action: Item to be added to a future meeting WHEN the base line assessment has been produced.
4.6 Councillor Maple asked if there is evidence of planning authorities in other parts of the country turning down applications, as the developers have not met the climate change requirements? DH advised that he has not heard specifically although this may be the case. The Local Plan must justify the requirement in line with the climate change agenda and if necessary, supports the power to refuse the application.
4.7 Cllr Doe asked Planning officers to consider how to support communities in preparing community energy plans to underpin neighbourhood plans. Planning officers confirmed there is a legal duty to give neighbourhood planning groups support and they can buy in technical support available from government and a number of them are looking at how they can promote environmental policies. The evidence from neighbourhood planning groups may start to come through in future, for example the Arches Local Plan.
4.8 Action: Planning team to capture which of the items discussed and presented will be picked up by the Local Plan, what additional resources will be required (including cost) and how we can achieve them. Officers to consider if there are any funds that we can bid for or learn from experience elsewhere. Agreed that opportunities will come from the development of the Local Plan.