Harrogate Council resolves to withdraw development plan document

Out-Law News | 23 Jun 2014 | 5:11 pm | 1 min. read

Harrogate Council has resolved to withdraw its 'Sites and Policies development plan document' (DPD) from examination after a planning inspector said that issues with housing and employment figures could not be resolved by making modifications to the document.

The decision to withdraw the DPD from examination was made at a full council meeting on 18 June following two months of written correspondence with the examining inspector.

Following an examination hearing in April, inspector Phillip Ware wrote to the Council expressing concerns that the proposed provision of 390 homes a year in the submitted DPD fell "considerably short" of meeting the Council's objectively assessed need and that the evidence  on which employment land figures had been based could not be considered up-to-date. The inspector recommended that the DPD be withdrawn, concluding that "it is very unlikely that the matters which I have raised ... could be resolved by seeking to make Main Modifications to the DPD."

Having first written to the inspector to say that it was minded to withdraw the DPD, the Council resolved in May to ask instead for a suspension of the examination, in order to allow time to find extra employment land and reconsider the proposed housing numbers.

In a letter to the inspector dated 27 May (2-page / 222 KB PDF, the Council said that it expected to complete updated housing need and employment land reports by November and an assessment into infrastructure capacity by March 2015, although it admitted that the identification of new sites "is likely to take until at least the end of 2015 and potentially beyond."

Responding to the Council on 30 May (2-page / 90 KB PDF), Ware said that the proposed work to the housing and employment evidence base was "very substantial" and repeated his recommendation that the DPD be withdrawn.

"I do not consider that suspending the DPD examination until 2016 would be an acceptable and sound way forward, given my concerns ... that this could result in a wholly different plan", wrote the inspector. "I would ask that you consider withdrawing the DPD and give consideration to my suggestion that a new Local Plan be prepared based in part on the work undertaken to date."

In a letter to Ware dated 19 June (1-page / 60 KB PDF), the Council confirmed its decision to withdraw the DPD. "A new comprehensive Local Plan will now be prepared based in part on work undertaken to date", said the Council. "A revised Local Development Scheme will be produced and made available on the Council's website in due course setting out the key milestones for preparation of the Local Plan."