The officer introduced the report, which informed Members about the results of the annual planning policy monitoring for 2021/22. This included information and provided figures on housing, employment, environment, and an update on the progress of the local plan.
The officer corrected figures given on the Amendment Sheet for Item 6 – Slough Local Plan Annual Monitoring Report 2021/22 as follows:
Para 2.14 the figure give of “6,010 sqm” should read “2,000 sqm”, and the figure given of “about 8,000 sqm” should read “about 12,000 sqm”.
The final paragraph under Item 6 “and change of 9,500 to 9,400” should read “and change of 9,500 to 9,600”.
Questions raised by Members included a request for more comprehensive details on the number of buildings left vacant, the effect on school places of new homes being built, and car-parking space figures. Planning officers explained that while valid queries these were not Local Plan policy monitoring items, and could be addressed in another forum; the monitoring report outlined the progress and success of council determination, completion and build against national housing targets.
Other questions concerned the local plan, the low proportion of affordable housing being built and the Simplified Planning Zone (SPZ). It was explained that the SPZ, which covered Slough Trading Estate, gave potential occupiers and businesses more certainty by allowing certain development without the need for planning permission. The SPZ was due to expire in the near future and officers were now looking at the specific requirements of the SPZ going forward, and Cabinet would also be involved in that process. The next steps on the Local Plan and an update on the Local Development Scheme would also be presented to Cabinet soon.
On affordable housing, officers acknowledged that this was a challenging area, with the monitoring results for 2021/22 showing 63 were completed. Regarding house types 6% of housing completions were houses and 94% flats or maisonettes. This trend was likely to continue due to the Core Strategy of directing new development to the centre and urban areas where flats were appropriate, while ensuring development in suburban areas was predominantly family housing. The Council had carried out a public consultation on Green Belt release earlier this year, with next steps still to be decided.
At the conclusion of discussions, members agreed to note the report.
a) That the results of the Annual Monitoring Report 2021/22 be noted.
b) That the Annual Monitoring Report 2021/22 be published on the Council website.