Agenda item

Pre-Decision Scrutiny

To select appropriate items from the Cabinet Board agenda for pre-decision scrutiny (reports enclosed for Scrutiny Members)


The committee considered the following matters:


Neath Port Talbot Local Development Plan (LDP) 2011-2026 – Consideration of :  Draft LDP Review Report; and the publication/ consultation procedures to be implemented


Officers highlighted that the first stage of the review was to prepare and publish a “Review Report” which identified key issues to be considered when taking the existing LDP forward, this set out areas where the current LDP was delivering and performing well, in addition to those areas where changes may be required.


Members questioned if we would continue with the economic-led growth strategy or would there be alternatives.  Officers explained they would continue to look at an economic led strategy, it was noted that other alternatives were not yet clear as were are at the early stages.  It was highlighted that the Decarbonisation Agenda was being pushed, and officers would hold a number of stakeholder / public engagement events and develop the alternatives for the Preferred Strategy stage.


Members questioned the increasing concern of land viability as the viability was only accurate at the time of the assessment.  Officers explained that a new regional viability study/ model was currently being developed with local authority colleagues within the Mid and South West Wales region.   It was noted that we need to do things differently at the Candidate site stage, sites would not go into the plan without sufficient evidence (including viability assessments).


Officers explained that there was a lack of expertise in regard to the historic environment and there was a need for a more collaborative approach, it was highlighted that this was a good policy and we need to identify resources to deal with these issues moving forward.


Officers explained that there was a LDP reserve available, and the LDP was put in the budget as a pressure every year.  It was noted that three senior posts had gone, therefore the reserve was used to buy in expertise to fill the gap.


Members were pleased that the issues currently surrounding Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO) would be assessed as part of the preparation of the Replacement Plan which would not have any weight until it is adopted in 2024.  Officers highlighted that a seminar would take place on 12 February, 2020 and members were encouraged to attend. 


A discussion took place on the valleys, members agreed that it was good to see a focus on the Valleys, officers commented that it was something we need to continue to look at and possibly do more.  Tourism would be brought through as part of the valleys, although proposal were already in place in certain areas.


Members queried what would happen with the LDP with the change of councillors in a new election (scheduled in 2022) and how this would deliver what we want.  Officers explained that it is an issue as 2026 is the end date, and the LDP covers a 15 year period. At 2022 the Plan would have gone through the first formal stage of plan preparation: the ‘Preferred Strategy’. Once we get to the second formal stage: the ‘Deposit’ stage (scheduled for 2023) it cannot be changed as the Council are saying that this is the plan we want. Officers had to deal with this as part of the first LDP where there was a change in administration; where officers did an all Members’ Seminar discussing issues at spatial area and ward level and set out what had been done before based on evidence. Officers would engage with members throughout, all decisions taken as a council would be backed with evidence.


It was noted that there is a new joint committee being set up to deal with transport issues in South West Wales, the Chief Executive would lead and Head of Engineering and Transport would support.  The opening of valley line would have a huge cost.


Following scrutiny, the committee was supportive of the proposals to be considered by cabinet board.