Planning chief 'encouraged' by Local Plan sessions
The Council's Senior Manager for Planning has said he has been "really encouraged" by the turnout for the consultation sessions on the Draft Local Plan.
The 135-page document "provides a vision" and contains various objectives setting out what the Council wants to achieve up to 2030, including a proposal for 105 new affordable homes.
The first consultation drop-in session took place on St Agnes on Wednesday, followed by Old Town on Thursday. The next session will be on St Martin's today.
Craig Dryden, Senior Manager for Infrastructure & Planning, was on hand with Senior Planning Officer Lisa Walton and Lead Member for Planning Cllr Dan Marcus to answer questions at the Old Town Inn.
Craig told This is Scilly: "This is very different from the first round of consultation in 2015. That was was much broader in terms of finding out the burning issues for islanders. Now we've actually drafted a Local Plan, based partly on that consultation we did but also on a lot more evidence gathering we've done since then. We've done a housing market assessment, sustainability appraisal and various other things to get to this stage.
"We're now setting out specific policies and proposals, including where we're allocating new housing sites. There's a concentration in Old Town and Hugh Town because we feel that they're the most sustainable locations."
He said of the first two sessions this week: "We've had some really, really good discussion and debate. I think on the whole people recognise the need for some sustainable growth on the islands. There might be some specific concerns about one or two sites but that's to be expected.
"We've had really positive feedback so far in terms of the overall content of the plan. It's not just about new homes, although that's clearly an important issue, it's about making sure our development is well-designed, sustainable, in the right location, making sure we're protecting and wherever possible enhancing the environment and strengthening our economy as well. These are all really crucial issues moving forward."
Craig described the draft plan as a "balance of providing some certainty but also some flexibility as you can't predict everything to the year 2030".
He continued: "There's a lot of what we call criteria-based policies. We still allow for windfall developments, whether that's housing, tourism, staff accommodation, all those sorts of uses so there is an element of flexibility in there as well."
The consultation period ends on May 11th, after which the plan will be redrafted taking into account the comments received. It will then be put out for more public consultation before being submitted to the Secretary of State for final approval. Any outstanding objections will be heard at an examination in public by an independent inspector, who will make various recommendations.
"We'll probably then have to make more changes and once it's adopted, it will form the main material planning consideration for determining planning applications."
Craig urged islanders to take part in the consultation, saying: "This is such an important document, I would encourage people to try to engage with us, read the Local Plan. We have a summary document as well to make it a little bit easier to digest and people can always contact us in the Town Hall if they want further advice."
The next drop-in session takes place today on St Martin's between 3.30-7pm at the Island Hall, followed by the Town Hall on St Mary's on Saturday April 7th (9.30am-1pm), Bryher Community Hall on Monday April 9th (3.30-7pm) and Tresco Community Hall on Tuesday April 10th (3.30-7pm).
The Draft Local Plan is available to view here.