Durham and Essex local plans in the melting pot
Two more English local plans are facing an uncertain future following stand-offs involving the local authorities involved – Durham County Council and Maldon District Council – and the planning inspectors examining the strategies.
Durham County Council is seeking a judicial review after failing to persuade an inspector to review an earlier highly critical interim report into the authority’s development plan for the county.
The strategy was branded as “unrealistic” and “flawed” in term of key elements like job creation, housing provision, the need for green belt development and the environmental impact of new roads. The inspector refused to review his criticism of the county plan.
Ian Thompson, the council’s corporate director of regeneration and economic development, said: “It came as a disappointment that the planning inspector has declined to reopen the examination.
“We maintain the plan offers the best prospect for economic growth and have explored every option and opportunity in our efforts to demonstrate this, which has included employing independent planning experts to review our business-backed predictions for growth.
“We now have no choice but to pursue this matter through the courts by way of a Judicial Review.”
In the plan, the county council said it wanted to build 31,400 homes and create thousands of jobs over the next 20 years, in a bid to attract more businesses and people to the area.
Separately, the inspector examining Maldon District Council’s local development plan has incensed the Essex local authority by suggesting it should withdraw the strategy after issuing an interim report concluding it was unsound because its provision for traveller sites was based on an outdated and inadequate assessment of housing needs.
In a statement Maldon DC said it was “shocked and extremely concerned” about the planning implications of the inspector’s ‘interim findings’. The council had suggested it should produce a separate plan to deal with the traveller issues. This course of action was rejected by the inspector.
The planning authority added: “The council has spent a great deal of time, money and goodwill to produce a local development plan to help meet the needs of the local community whilst protecting the local environment and the character of the district.
“The council will be strongly challenging the planning Inspector’s interim findings and is requesting that the examination in public is continued so that the plan can be adopted as soon as possible. “