Inspector recommends suspension of Charnwood local plan examination

Out-Law News | 09 Apr 2014 | 1:59 pm | 1 min. read

A planning inspector has recommended that the examination of Charnwood Borough Council's draft core strategy is suspended for nine months to allow the Council to prepare an updated housing market assessment.

Following hearing sessions last month, the examiner has written to the Council and said that, although the Council has met its duty to co-operate, the draft plan is not sound because it is not consistent with national policy in respect of overall housing provision (5-page / 53KB PDF).

The examiner said that the core strategy's planned provision of an average of 790 houses per year, which were based on figures set out in a 2011 Housing Requirement Project (HRP), were "essentially based on the level of annual housing growth for Charnwood set out in the now revoked Regional Plan".

The examiner said he had "significant concerns" over the use of the HRP as an evidence base for the core strategy because it did "not reach clear and specific conclusions in terms of the appropriate level of housing provision" and was not followed up by discussion or agreement with other local authorities in the wider Leicester and Leicestershire Housing Market Area (HMA).

"I consider that it does not provide an up to date and robust evidence base to conclude that the provision of 790 houses per year in Charnwood is appropriate in the context of the housing needs of the HMA as a whole," the examiner said.

The examiner said the Council's planned new Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) and subsequent co-operation and joint working between authorities could potentially address his concerns. He said he was prepared to consider a suspension of the examination to enable joint working on the SHMA and housing distribution to be completed.

"The work on the SHMA has been underway for some time and the key technical assessments of housing need are due to be published imminently. I consider that a suspension of approximately nine months would be reasonable under the circumstances," the examiner said.

The Council said in a statement it will consider the inspector's letter and submit a response.