September 27th, 2016

Local Plan progress ‘unlawful’ says group

Local Plan progress ‘unlawful’ says group Local Plan progress ‘unlawful’ says group
Updated: 10:01 am, May 07, 2015

THE WAY plans for future house building in Redditch are being progressed is unlawful, experts claim.

A document prepared by P J Planning on behalf of Webheath Action Group has hit out at the way the Planning Inspectorate is proceeding with their assessment of Redditch Borough Council’s Local Plan No 4, which guides development up to 2030.

The proposals will set out where 6,400 homes will be built, with 3,400 having to be built over the border in Bromsgrove according to planning officers.

The Standard reported last month how the progress of the plan could be delayed because of issues with the housing figure proposed in neighbouring Bromsgrove District Council’s Local Plan, which may have to rise.

As over half of the homes planned for Redditch are to be built over the border in Bromsgrove District around Foxlydiate the council will have to wait for the issue to be resolved before the process can proceed.

Despite that the plan still went forward for further examination in public this week over two days of hearings at Redditch Town Hall, the outcome of which could determine if the original timetable to adopt the plan by January next year is viable, when the document will have full force in planning decisions.

But the report for WAG, which includes advice from barrister Jack Smyth of No 5 Chambers in Birmingham, alleges the inspector is acting in a way which could be subject to legal challenge.

The basis of the claim is the fact parts of the ‘cross boundary allocations’ are excluded from the examination so not all of the sites are being considered.

Report author Wil Vincent said: “I feel that this approach severely limits the ‘pool’ of sites for the inspector to consider for allocation within Redditch, and means that a full comparison of sites available for development cannot be considered by the inspector as a whole.

“It is not possible to fully assess the possibility of pursuing alternative options whilst the examination carries on in the manner directed by the inspector.

“By extension, the inspector cannot ensure that the local plan fully meets the tests of soundness, and because of this, I submit that the plan is open to legal challenge unless this is rectified.”

A Planning Inspectorate spokesman said it would not be appropriate for them to respond while the examination of the plan was ongoing.