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Masterplan Briefly Aerial Fly Through

Section 106 Consultation October 2011

14 October 2011

This note explains Red Tree's consideration of the context of this consultation. 

In 2009 Plymouth City Council and South Hams District Council resolved to grant planning permission for Sherford subject to, amongst other things, the completion of a Section 106 Agreement.  The Section 106 Agreement is the legally binding document that defines and secures the delivery of all of the obligations that the planning authorities consider the developer must deliver. 

The 2009 heads of terms (Appendix 5 to the 2009 Committee Report) have been subject to extensive discussion and have now been drawn up in the form of a fully detailed legal agreement which reflects the changes, refinements and other material considerations which have emerged during those discussions. 

Red Tree is now placing a number of documents in the public domain in order to give members of the public an opportunity to properly scrutinise the details of the Section 106 Agreement and to make representations, should they so wish, prior to the agreement being considered by the Planning Committees.  

The documents are: 

  • The full Section 106 Agreement including all the topic specific schedules to the agreement; and
  • All of the Appendices, which in most cases detail the specification of delivery

A Summary Guide is also provided to enable the reader to understand the material obligations of the full agreement in a simpler narrative form. 

Should the Committees approve the Section 106 Agreement, it would mark the beginning of the end of the outline planning process, a process that commenced with Red Tree's Planning Application in November 2006.  Sherford will then rapidly move on to its construction phase which will bring with it the delivery of homes (market and affordable), jobs and much needed economic investment in the South Hams and Plymouth. 

Red Tree and the Planning Officers involved in the project have worked hard in the current economic climate to deliver a new town that remains consistent with the original vision.  The vision evolved via an ‘Enquiry by Design' in 2004/5, commissioned by the Councils and facilitated by The Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment, which involved all of the various stakeholders who felt that they might have a contribution to make to the design process.  The result was the Masterplan that still exists today. 

Much has been recently written about the emerging planning framework which is based upon the government's localism agenda.  Red Tree considers Sherford to be a very good example of this type of ‘bottom up' approach and the Enquiry by Design exemplifies a process that seeks the active involvement of all interested parties in the evolution of a Masterplan that is aware of and adapts to the requirements and concerns of these parties.  

Sherford was born out of the process of consultation, as opposed to many other developments where public consultation often simply comprises a box-ticking exercise after the event.  Indeed the local policies, in the form of the Area Action Plans scrutinised by the Planning Inspectorate and adopted in 2007, came after the Enquiry by Design process and embraced the vision.  The Examination in Public took careful account of the wide range of representations made by members of the public.  The policy was not a response to central government housing targets, but locally established demand and need; the details of the delivery of this housing as a new community within that policy was developed locally and not as a ‘top down' requirement.   

Red Tree then embarked on a detailed process of consultation, discussion and negotiation of the Sherford Planning Application that was submitted in November 2006.  In over 300 meetings in the five years since the Application was submitted, Red Tree has met to discuss Sherford with the Sherford Board (made up of the senior Planning Officers of South Hams, Devon and Plymouth's Councils and the Highways Agency), a community working group consisting of the representatives of local resident groups and chaired by Gary Streeter (the local MP), the transport working group (consisting of representatives of the various highway authorities and the Highways Agency), representatives of the NHS Devon, the education authorities and many other stakeholders and interest groups who have a direct and indirect interest in the town. 

Red Tree has continued to engage with these groups and listened to the concerns and aspirations of those representatives.  Their input has been built into the modifications in the two further addenda made to the Application in 2007 and 2009.  

The proposals for Sherford, expressed in Red Tree's application and secured by this Section 106 Agreement, have not stepped away from the original Masterplan or the delivery of the detailed components of it.  The commitment to the delivery of design excellence, build standard and energy efficiency, the full extent community facilities, expansive open space, recreation and sports provision.  In terms of social, environmental and economic performance the overall proposal for Sherford bears very favourable comparison with any other development being progressed currently across the entire country.  This is particularly remarkable considering the extraordinary economic challenges that we all face. 

It is true to say that in delivering this vision the level of affordable homes delivered in the early stages of Sherford has been diminished.  The brutal realities of today's economic circumstances cannot be ignored.  However, the reader should contemplate two key points.  The first is that Sherford will deliver a large volume of much needed homes to the area over the next 10 to 15 years.  Sherford will also deliver a range of housing of different sizes and types.  This will provide housing that is affordable to young families who today find themselves under pressure as never before. 

The second consideration is the clawback mechanism that has been developed with South Hams and Plymouth City and with the help and scrutiny of ATLAS (part of the HCA) and Ark (housing advisors to the Councils).  As the market improves and house prices increase, as they will, there will be a corresponding increase in the level of affordable homes delivered by Sherford.  To ensure Sherford delivers a mixed and balance community from the outset, Red Tree has made a commitment to deliver in steps up to 20% affordable housing during the first half of the town's development life.  This represents 412 much needed affordable homes which, without Sherford, would not be delivered.  This early provision will allow time for the clawback to deliver affordable housing levels that approach the policy levels sought by the Planning Authorities.  

The local planning process is now at decision time.  Red Tree will ask Members to consider the vast amount of work that has been undertaken by all those concerned with delivering Sherford.  Members will also have an opportunity to consider the hundreds of millions of investment in the local economy at this most critical time in the cycle; the very material boost to the local employment market both through the construction phases and as a new community with the creation of thousands of jobs; the much needed housing that this application will bring to the local community; and not least the generation of New Homes Bonus (potentially in excess of £40million over the term of the development).  The opportunity is available now.  Red Tree has always been committed to a locally conceived, supported and delivered Sherford.  This is why Red Tree has worked so hard to deliver Sherford via a local planning consent and we trust that Members will recognise in this Section 106 Agreement the huge amount of work that all of the stakeholders have vested in this development.

For those who have been following the Katerva Awards and Sherford's nomination in the Urban Design category please see: http://www.princes-foundation.org/content/sherford-eco-friendly-development-princes-foundation-nominated-katerva-award

 

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