This month’s Cabinet meeting agenda has been released with no mention of an updated Local Development Scheme programme.
The current version dated January 2014 indicates that the Castle Point Local Plan was expected to be processed within this schedule:
Examination Dec 2014
Inspectors Report Feb 2015
Adoption Mar 2015
Clearly this has faltered and we await a new look Local Plan based on:
Motion 1 (removal of some Green Belt sites for housing development )
To alter the draft Local Plan to prioritise protecting Green Belt over meeting our objectively assessed housing needs and remove all virgin green belt sites listed without current planning permission, including sites listed in the Castle Point SHLAA 2014 (22 sites).
With the due date, 16th March or earlier, for the Secretary of State’s ruling on the Jotmans Farm Green Belt development Enquiry, fast approaching, it is interesting that CPBC do not feel the need to release an updated programme for the new New Local Plan during the Cabinet meeting.
Much weight appeared to be placed upon the requirement of consistent progress being made with the Local Plan process and reference made by the developer’s legal team that CPBC have failed in this requirement.
It is unclear whether the Secretary of State has made contact with CPBC as to progress of our Local Plan during his considerations.
We must assume that the Government’s End Date of 2017 for Local Plan’s, has over ridden the CPBC Local development Scheme programme and schedule, otherwise why would CPBC not issue a new schedule ahead of the Jotman’s decision being released?
We cannot expect the Persimmon’s legal team to not object to any extension to the SoS’s decision being released, nor an acceptance that time being afforded for the Local Plan to continue until 2017 for Examination, prior to them seeking judicial review.
A clear statement and release of a Local Plan schedule may appear the minimum requirement necessary, especially ahead of the May local elections.
Commitment to the protection of Green Belt is admirable, but notice of intent will be the minimum first step towards maintaining the confidence of the Inspectorate and local residents.