Local Plan round-up – October 2016

Below are recent updates of local plans in various authorities:

Epping Forest District Council

Last Thursday (October 6), Epping Forest DC Cabinet approved the draft Local Plan for Regulation 18 consultation. It will now go before Full Council this week (October 18) for final approval – the consultation will start at the end of this month and run until mid-December, with the Regulation 19 consultation and submission happening in the Spring of next year.

Loughton Residents’Association councillors voiced their opposition to the Local Plan, criticising the working group for including green open spaces in urban areas for development – the view put across was that LRA councillors would prefer to extend development on the Greenbelt instead rather than surrender green open spaces.

Two LibDems, an Independent and one Conservative councillor also expressed concern in the same vein so there will be pressure to reduce numbers within the existing settlements, in particular on green open spaces, and increase those in the Greenbelt, especially to the north of the district around Harlow. More…

Windsor & Maidenhead Borough Council

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) Borough Local Plan will be delayed following a decision by Cabinet on Sept 30. The decision to carry out further works on the Plan and then return to a Regulation 18 consultation will mean the final submission to the Inspectorate be in April 2017 instead of November this year. More…

Harlow District Council

Meeting papers for next week’s Cabinet meeting reveal that the draft Local Plan will be discussed at the following meeting (November 10) meaning papers will be published on or around November 3, revealing the content of the long-awaited plan.

Harlow needs to find around 9,200 new homes within its district, a key part of the 16,100 total new homes to be accommodated in ‘greater Harlow’ including 3,100 to the south and west, 3,000 to the north and some 3,900 to the north east. This actually represents a massive growth of the town, something which the Labour Council opposes. Click here to view the Cabinet Forward Plan.

It looks as though Harlow DC will be going for a Regulation 19 pre-submission consultation whereas Epping Forest, its neighbour, is going for a Regulation 18. Considering that Harlow received only a handful of responses from residents in the initial consultation, there will be some pressure to engage more, especially considering the large number that is being considered for the town.

St. Albans Council

The Initial Hearing by the Inspector David Hogger to consider whether St. Albans Council has fulfilled its duty to cooperate will take place on Wednesday, October 26, at the Council Chambers. Further details here.

He had written to the council previously to express his concern over the duty. Click here to view David Hogger’s initial letter to the council expressing his views.

It is clear that St. Albans has upset some of its neighbours over plans to locate homes near boundaries, especially Hemel Hempstead (Decorum), and will certainly be challenged by the Inspector over the level and extent of the cooperation.

Luton Borough Council

Interestingly, St. Albans has cited the Inspector’s decision in July that Luton Borough Council had fulfilled its duty to cooperate, in particular with Central Bedfordshire. Click here to see Jeremy Youle’s preliminary findings. This may give some encouragement to St. Albans, although it is a different inspector and the circumstances are not the same.

Basildon Council

Last Thursday, Linda Allport-Hodge was removed from her position as chair of the Housing and Growth Scrutiny Committee, which oversees the local plan process. This was a bit of a surprise as the role of the scrutiny committee was new and broadly uncharted. That said, the handful of meetings to date have been hardly serene and there have been some suggestions she has been following her own agenda. She may well have crossed the line with the idea of inviting an Inspector to a future council meeting. Cllr Andrew Baggott (Con) is the favourite to replace her, although it is not clear whether a Conservative-chaired scrutiny committee scrutinising a Conservative Cabinet and portfolio holder will go down well locally. Click here to see the newspaper article.

Thurrock Council

The Conservatives are now the largest party in Thurrock as Cllr Colin Churchman, the former Conservative who defected to UKIP and then became an independent, has returned to the Conservative fold. This means the split is now Cons 18, UKIP 17 and Labour 14. See the media article here.

This latest instalment of politics at Thurrock is not likely to change the difficulties it faces with such an equal balance of power.