CPBC Local Plan2016 Duty to Cooperate Failed. Plan Withdrawal Recommended!

Statement by David Marchant Chief Executive –
 ‘The Council is naturally disappointed with the Inspector’s conclusions, particularly as evidence of the extensive dialogue between Castle Point and our neighbours had been  put  before the Inspector both prior to and during the hearing on the 12 December which he acknowledged had been active on-going and sustained.   
The Council takes the view that protecting the green belt is more important than providing new housing and wanted this principle to be tested in public by an Inspector. 
There are significant implications from the Inspector’s conclusions for the Council and neighbouring South Essex Authorities in that there needs to be a “formal mechanism in place to distribute” housing that cannot be met through their individual plans in order to meet the Duty to Co-operate.
The Council will now need to consider the letter in more detail before deciding the next course of action.’

Much as had been predicted by far greater planning minds than ourselves, it has been announced that the Examining Inspector of the Castle Point Local Plan2016 has Failed the LP at the first hurdle – the Duty to Cooperate.

This will be a great disappointment for some, whilst no doubt others will take pleasure in proclaiming “we told you so!”

Given the somewhat aggressive nature of the other neighbouring authorities, especially Thurrock, it is difficult to guess how the position can be brought together.

One can only assume this may cause quite some delay.

From the Inspector’s remarks and conclusions it may be assumed that the hasty conclusion of the cpbc Local Plan Task and Finish group work contributed to the demise of the process.

Whether certain senior councillors should have been aware of this pitfall is open to conjecture.

Officer and councillor work on progressing the Local Plan2016 appears uncoordinated.

This…

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2 responses to “CPBC Local Plan2016 Duty to Cooperate Failed. Plan Withdrawal Recommended!

  1. We are reminded that at the SPECIAL MEETING OF THE COUNCIL 24TH FEBRUARY 2016 ( DRAFT NEW LOCAL PLAN ) -inter alia. we were informed of the following:-

    7.17 The Council is reminded of the Medium Term Financial Forecast, presented to Council in February 2015, which indicated a significant funding gap in each financial year from 2017/18 which the Council must address in order to maintain existing service levels.

    7.18 The Council is already effectively committed beyond its means in future years i.e. spending funds it does not have, and will need to identify reductions to existing services.

    7.19 The position with regard to Council reserves is also serious. There are very real and significant financial risks, particularly around planning appeals and associated legal costs. These risks, coupled with the projected budget gap, result in a complete depletion of general reserves within the next three to four financial years.

    Specific Financial Implications:

    7.20 The Council had previously established a specific reserve for local plan development costs, of £250,000. By the end of 2014/15 only approximately £35,800 remained unspent. The further stages of plan preparation are likely to cost in the region of £190,000 for publicity, a Programme Officer and examination costs. The additional costs of £154,200 would need to made available from reserves.

    7.21 Should the Draft New Local Plan not be agreed, then further work on a new plan would be required; resources will need to be identified to meet the costs of new documents and evidence. Work carried out with existing evidence is as set out in the list below under Background Papers.

    7.22 Any new evidence to be collected is likely to incur a cost not less than that already spent (£184,000),together with new consultation costs (not less than £35,000). In addition to these costs, there will also be additional staff costs amounting to £31,000.

    7.23 Should the Council decide not to proceed with the Draft New Local Plan, then there are also potentially significant costs and resource implications to the Council in dealing with planning appeals. Any such costs would reduce General Fund reserves. The most recent calculation of the minimum recommended level of General Fund reserves, in the February 2015 Policy Framework and Budget Setting report, indicated a potential amount of £1.6m, should appeals be found against the Council.

    7.24 Council is also asked to note a point of clarification regarding the position with reserves. No funds have been set aside to deal with planning appeals. Rather an exercise has been carried out to quantify a potential financial risk that may materialise as a consequence of not having an up-to-date local plan. Approval to draw from reserves would be required as each risk materialised. There is no approval to spend implied reserves.

    7.25 The costs associated with preparing a development plan under the direction of the Secretary of State are also likely to be significant and beyond the control of the local authority.

    7.26 The absence of an up-to-date plan will also leave the Council exposed to speculative development proposals in unwelcome locations, and with no mechanism for being able to negotiate maximum benefits from development proposals. As failure to adopt a Draft New Local Plan will result in the inability of the Council to seek contributions for infrastructure improvements through Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). As a result the Council will only be able to seek developer contributions through negotiation via S106 Agreements which, as from April 2015, is limited in its use.

    7.27 As highlighted by Laura Graham the local authority may find ultimately, development may be permitted “by appeal” as it has been elsewhere, when insufficient progress has been made with the local development planning process.

    7.28 The likelihood is that if those appeals are successful the intensity of development will exceed that currently proposed within the Draft New Local Plan and on sites not currently within the Draft New Local Plan.

    No one from CPBC has taken responsibility for the apparent mishandling of our LOCAL PLAN.
    It is for the councils governance to make a statement as to why it has perpetuated such a situation.

  2. Anyone who had sat through countless Task and Finish Group meetings the question of co operation with our neighbours has come up time and time again councillors were assured that this exercise had been fully investigated and was all in hand.
    So how did it go so wrong at the first hurdle in the Draft Local Plan submission for inspection ?..
    Planning officers are highly paid and should be well aware of what is required to have a plan approved.
    They should take full responsibility for its failure along with the CEO who seems to make the decisions.
    Councillors are elected by the residents and it is for them to dictate policy and a vote of no confidence should be held and those who mishandled this episode should pay the price from the top down.
    Again this botched plan will cost thousands and not for the first time
    It cannot be right that local residents pay again for the failure of those in high office.
    There is a saying the BUCK STOPS HERE .
    .

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