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Councillors set to vote on adopting part two of the Vale’s Local Plan

on Fri, 13/09/2019 - 4:19pm

Councillors in the Vale of White Horse are set to vote on whether to adopt part two of the district’s Local Plan.

Following a public examination, an independent government planning inspector found that the plan met the tests of soundness in national guidelines for planning policy. 

The council adopted part one of its Local Plan in 2016, which dealt with the council’s main housing sites and policies. Part two deals with more detailed policies and allocates housing sites that will help the city of Oxford meet its need for houses, which the city council says it doesn’t have space for. 

Council officers have recommended that councillors adopt the plan – the other options are to withdraw the plan or simply decide not to adopt it. 

In a report going to the council’s Scrutiny Committee (click), officers have set out the benefits and risks of each option.

Adopting the plan would help prevent housing developers from pushing unacceptable planning applications through on appeal, and would provide detailed policies to assist in the determination of planning applications.

At this stage of the Local Plan process, the scope for changes to the plan is minimal and the council would need to provide sound planning reasons if it wanted to withdraw the plan and would need to explain why it disagreed with the Planning Inspector’s decision to find the plan sound. 

Withdrawing the plan would leave the council vulnerable to challenges to its five-year housing supply, which could lead to housing developers pushing through unacceptable planning applications on appeal. It could also jeopardise funding for much-needed infrastructure improvements in the area.

Cllr Emily Smith, Leader of the Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “We do have concerns with this plan, in particular with the number of houses it allocates for Oxford when the city’s needs haven’t yet been fully tested in its Local Plan examination. Because the plan is at such an advanced stage, we are not able to make any changes – we must either adopt the plan as is or withdraw it completely. Neither option is ideal, but we must balance our concerns with the plan against the risk to Vale communities that speculative development would bring if we do not have an adopted local plan in place”

Cllr Catherine Webber, Cabinet Member for Planning at the Vale, said: “Whatever councillors decide on 9 October, we hope to begin working immediatelyon a new Vale Local Plan to take us up to 2036 that reflects the priorities of residents and businesses right across the Vale. We are also looking at ways to add to adopted Vale planning polices to take account of the climate emergency”

The Scrutiny Committee will discuss the report on Thursday 19 September and will make recommendations to the council’s Cabinet, which meets on Friday 4 October. Cabinet will then make a recommendation which councillors will vote on at the full Council meeting on Wednesday 9 October.

If councillors vote to adopt the plan, it will become part of the council’s Development Plan, and will be used to help decide planning applications in the district.

From an article on the Vale's website - see the original <here>.