The Planning Inspector in charge of Cornwall’s Local Plan Examination has given a provisional ‘thumbs up’ to the revised proposals put forward by the Council – enabling the authority to start to move the focus away from housing numbers to improving the quality of new development in Cornwall.
Following the completion of the recent examination in public, which scrutinised every aspect of the Local Plan, the Inspector, Mr Emerson, has issued a ‘Schedule of Post-Hearing Changes for Consultation’. This is a list of further changes he wants the public’s views on before he makes his final recommendations. The final recommendations are due to be published in September/October following this consultation.
The publication of the Schedule confirms that Mr Emerson is happy with the Council’s proposed policies to protect the environment and the housing target of 52,500 new homes between 2010-30 (nearly 22,000 of which already have permission) as well as a range of other changes put forward by the Council in January.
One of the key areas identified by the Inspector for further consultation is a proposal to redistribute 300 dwellings from the allowance for the Eco-Community at West Carclaze to the built area of St Austell. He also expects the progress of the Eco community to be closely monitored.
Other changes which the Inspector has requested further consultation on largely reflect new National Policy and include:
- The threshold for negotiation for affordable housing – this has been brought into line with the Ministerial statement and upcoming national guidance i.e. above 10 units generally and over 5 units in designated rural areas and the AONB.
- Changes to the wording around the Natural Environment Policy – this follows discussions with Natural England and Historic England to improve the clarity of policy rather than direction.
- Policies for infill and rounding off in smaller settlements – these have been amended to ensure greater clarity.
The Council will now be consulting on the Inspector’s Schedule over July, with responses then sent to Mr Emerson to inform the final report.
Once the final report has been published Members will need to decide whether to accept his non-negotiable recommendations and formally adopt the Plan, or reject them and start the process again.
Welcoming the publication of the Schedule, Edwina Hannaford, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning, said “This is very good news for the Council and for Cornwall. It is also great for helping local communities by providing a robust framework to support the development of their Neighbourhood Plans and reduce the uncertainty that has accompanied not having a Plan in place. Cornwall’s Local Plan is designed to give communities the ability to reflect their different needs and ambitions within the broader strategy so the faster it can be put in place the better for communities across Cornwall.
“This has been a long process but it is clear that the Inspector is now largely happy with our Plan. Hopefully we can now proceed to get it adopted and start to apply some robust local planning policies to our planning decisions.
“This means we can now move away from focusing on housing numbers to look at how we can improve the quality of new development in Cornwall and safeguard our special and precious environment. Importantly, with this we can now demonstrate a five year land supply.”
Story posted 20 June 2016