Out-Law News 1 min. read

Inspector recommends withdrawal of Runnymede core strategy

Runnymede Borough Council has not met its duty to co-operate with adjoining local authorities in the preparation of its local plan core strategy, the inspector carrying out the examination of the draft plan has said.

Following a hearing session last month, the inspector has written to the Council and recommended that it should withdraw the plan from examination (9-page / 64KB PDF). He said that the council had not established a "robust framework or methodology" within which co-operation across administrative boundaries could be progressed or monitored.

"I accept that there is no specific requirement in the legislation to take a structured approach. However, the Council needs to demonstrate co-operation, co-ordination and continuous engagement and one way this may be achieved is through a more transparent process that can be appropriately managed and monitored," he said.

The inspector acknowledged that the Council had involved nearby local planning authorities during the public consultation stages for the plan. However, he said that this could not "accurately be described as constituting sustained joint working on an on-going basis". "It also does not demonstrate that co-operation was sought in the early stages of plan preparation," he said.

The inspector said that recent activity with regards to the duty was an indication that progress on the matter "may be achieved in the near future".

The inspector also said that the Council's evidence with regard to identifying and seeking to meet housing demand was "inadequate, insufficiently up-to-date and not reflective of all relevant market and economic signals".

He noted that the Council is producing an updated strategic housing market assessment and a green belt assessment, both due to be completed at the end of the year. He said that these two documents, along with other evidence, would enable the Council to produce an up-to-date plan within a "relatively short timescale".

"Having carried out the necessary consultation, sustainability and viability work, the Council should re-submit the plan as soon as possible," the inspector said.

The Council said in a statement that it would consider the inspector's letter and the options available. It said it would present a report on the way forward for the plan to its planning committee in June.

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