Councillor Coxshall, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, presented the report and stated the Local Plan would be guided and shaped throughout by the right infrastructure, positive health and wellbeing impact, the housing needs of the borough, to protect and enhance the character of communities, maintain effective green belt and to meet employment needs. Councillor Coxshall stated the report was not the final plan nor was it about numbers or specific sites. It was the commitment to residents on the quality and new infrastructure into the borough and for residents to decide on the shape of future plans. Councillor Coxshall thanked the cross party working group and specifically thanked Councillor G Rice, Councillor Gerrish, Councillor Spillman and Councillor J Kent.
Councillor Kerin as Chair of the Planning Transport and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee stated the document was not perfect but good enough to agree to the consultation process. That the success of the Local Plan to be adopted in 2022 and beyond would be to address affordable, low cost and Council housing, that it was crucial that communities were involved and to ensure that the urban extensions and new settlements would not destroy the character and history of the borough.
Councillor J Kent agreed that the consultation be undertaken with residents and businesses of Thurrock to see how the borough be shaped. That this would now be for the Council to take forward and was pleased that the document was in a much better place compared to several months ago. Councillor J Kent suggested a new recommendation that the consultation process be extended to allow sufficient time for all residents to have their say.
Councillor Spillman stated he would not be blocking the Local Plan and thanked Officers for the hard work undertaken.
Councillor Pothecary stated that the document was now in a better place and in a healthier shape with good communications amongst all groups taking place and agreed that the consultation process should be extended to allow all residents to have time to response. Councillor Pothecary stated her concern how evidence on the connection between congestion and air quality could be proven, referred Members to the development of Grays Town Centre and the proposed Urban Extensions of the Local Plan and had serious concern how these would impact those residents in the areas mentioned. Councillor Pothecary stated that she was not against going to the consultation stage only that this should have happened much sooner and that all analyse should be included in the report.
Councillor G Rice stated this support for the Local Plan and was pleased that the document had been in good order and the Council had committed to the infrastructure led plan in the borough. Councillor G Rice thanked Officers for the hard work undertaken and agreed that further discussions should still continue.
Councillor Gledhill stated that infrastructure in the borough was key alongside affordable and Council homes. That a thorough consultation would take place to involve residents through the whole process were all points would be taken forward to strengthen the commitment being made.
Councillor Gerrish had several concerns and referred Members to Page 40 of the Local Plan, Strategic Housing Market Assessment, and questioned how the consultation around housing numbers would be undertaken. Page 85 of the Local Plan, Digital Infrastructure, how would all residents be given the opportunity to engage with the consultation process. That question 35 on Page 99 of the Local Plan, Car Parking, was a leading question. Councillor Gerrish stated concerns that assessments of Air Quality be feed back into the consultation. There had been no mention of Member Workshops where all 49 Members should be given the opportunity to feed into the process.
Councillor Worrall stated that the time framework was not long enough to allow residents to have their say and questioned how the consultation would be made available to every resident in Thurrock. Councillor Worrall referred Members to Page 33 of the Local Plan, Managing Waste, and stated a further consultation may get lost in the process and should be included as part of the whole Local Plan proposal. That the Local Plan had not mentioned any new cemeteries and parks to ensure that Thurrock’s green belt was protected from developments, the Government and from ourselves.
Councillor Coxshall summed up but stating the debate tonight had been helpful. That the consultation period should be extended in light of the Christmas period to ensure that all residents had the opportunity to respond. That cross party workshops would continue to ensure that member engagement would drive ideas together and all 49 Members had a stake in the document.
Councillor Spillman requested a requisition vote.
The Mayor called a requisition vote. A requisition vote took place, the result of which was:
For: Councillors Akinbohun, Anderson, Churchman, Collins, Coxshall, Fish, Gledhill, Hague, Halden, Hebb, Holloway, Huelin, Jefferies, Johnson, Kelly, C Kent, J Kent, Kerin, Lawrence, Liddiard, Little, Maney, Okunade, Piccolo, Pothecary, Redsell, B Rice, G Rice, Rigby, Shinnick, Watkins and Worrall (32)
Against: Councillor Gerrish (1)
Abstain: Councillors Allen, Cherry, Duffin, Gamester, Potter, Smith, Spillman (7)
Whereupon the Mayor declared the recommendations carried.
1. That Full Council agree the Thurrock Local Plan Issues and Options (Stage 2) Consultation Document for public consultation.
2. That Full Council delegate to the Corporate Director of Place in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Regeneration the authority make any factual changes that may arise and any other inconsequential alterations to the wording of the Issues and Options (Stage 2) consultation document arising from the Council meeting.
3. That Full Council agree the Local Plan Issues and Options (Stage 2) – Engagement Strategy.