Gravityscan Badge Inspector advises Surrey council to withdraw strategy — Alrewas Neighbourhood Plan

Inspector advises Surrey council to withdraw strategy

By Michael Donnelly Tuesday, 18 June 2013

A Surrey council must choose whether to withdraw its key core strategy planning document from the examination process or to attempt to rewrite the document to bring its housing targets in line with new national policy requirements.

Waverley core strategy faces examination delay

Earlier this month, inspector Michael Hetherington adjourned the examination of Waverley Borough Council's core strategy due to his concerns over the document's housing evidence base and whether the council fulfilled its duty to cooperate in drawing up the plan.

In a letter sent to Waverley Borough Council this week Hetherington said that he was satisfied that the council had passed the legal duty to cooperate with neighbouring councils in producing the document.

However, the letter said that, with regards to housing numbers and site allocations, the document needed a "significant amount of additional work".

This includes the "reassessment of housing needs in line with the National Planning Policy Framework’s requirements, the proper testing of alternatives through the site allocation process, a reconsideration of the borough’s capacity to accommodate new housing in the light of the framework’s policies, a reassessment of the present approach to ‘additional’ greenfield sites and the demonstration of a robust housing supply".

Hetherington concluded: "Taken together, these matters are both so significant and so central to the plan’s overall strategy that I am concerned that it may not be possible to consider them appropriately within the context of the present examination – which, as previously advised, is based upon the August 2012 version of the plan that was subject to formal public consultation.

"It would be a significant waste of time and resources if such work was undertaken only to result in modifications that were so substantial that they could not be reasonably considered in the context of the present examination.

"Equally, any additional work would need to be carried out within an acceptable timescale: a substantial delay would create considerable uncertainty within the examination process for those who have submitted representations at the publication stage."

The inspector said that "with regret" he suggested the "most appropriate course of action" would be for the council to withdraw the core strategy and carry out the additional work before resubmission.

Waverley Borough Council has said it is considering its next step.

Bryn Morgan, the councillor responsible for planning at the council, said: "The inspector’s letter needs to be assessed carefully. Waverley remains certain that it was right to progress a housing figure in its core strategy that had been consulted on with our communities and was supported by residents.

"It was heartening to see the planning inspector recognise that Waverley, like many other councils, developed a core strategy at a time when planning policies were changing significantly.

"While the letter is assessed and any additional work is carried out, planning applications will continue to be decided by Waverley to the same high standard that they are at the moment. Waverley remains firmly committed to consulting with residents on any fresh proposals it will bring forward for the core strategy."

via Inspector advises Surrey council to withdraw strategy.

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