Local Plan delay could have unintended consequences say Lib Dem and Green Alliance group
By Melvin Caton
Reacting to the news that the R4U run Uttlesford District Council has delayed the publication of the first draft of the new Local Plan by six months, Cllr Melvin Caton , Leader of the Lib Dem and Green Alliance Group on the council said "The Local Plan timetable has always been very ambitious as it sought to meet government deadlines for completion by the end of 2023. Despite earlier promises from the R4U administration in recent months, when difficult decision had to be faced the timetable has certainly slipped.
The main goal of the Council must be to get the Plan right, rather than to put out a flawed plan out for consultation over the summer holiday period when many people will be away.
Significant new sites have been identified by local landowners that were not offered in the Call for Sites earlier in the process. It is prudent that the council take sufficient time to assess their viability and deliverability.
But a six month delay before the first draft of the Plan goes out to consultation will have unwelcome consequences as developers will seek to exploit the situation by submitting further speculative applications whilst the Council has an out of date plan and no 5 year land supply. The damage caused will be irreparable.
The R4U administration promised that the Plan would be completed within four years but now it looks like it will stretch to six years. The financial impact on the council will make a bad situation even worse. The original cost of producing the plan was originally £7m. This delay will add to the costs when the council is already looking for £3m worth of savings over the next four years.
I just hope that government doesn't act precipitously when the Council misses the end of 2023 deadline and seek to take Local Plan making in Uttlesford out of local democratic control. That would be disastrous."