Planning delay could leave Studley exposed

By Ian Dipple Thursday 01 November 2012 Updated: 02/11 08:29

FEARS have been raised Studley could be left at the mercy of developers due to delays in adopting a key planning document.

Coun Hazel Wright branded Stratford District Council's handling of the production of the Core Strategy - which sets out land suitable for housing and businesses as well as a number of other planning factors - as 'an utter shambles'.

The plan was expected to be adopted in December but was deferred earlier this year to May 2013. But earlier this month council leader Chris Saint revealed the process was being put back again as the programme was running 'well behind schedule’ and he could not give a new completion date. It was also revealed the cost of producing the strategy has now rocketed to more than £500,000.

The danger is without a Core Strategy the Government's simplified National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) will be used to determine planning applications which makes a presumption in favour of sustainable development.

Coun Wright, who represents Studley on the district council, said it would make it much more difficult to reject unwanted and inappropriate housing estates if an application is submitted while the situation is being resolved.

"The Lib Dems suggested last October more resources were needed, but the Conservatives ignored us," she said.

"Neighbourhood Plans being prepared by town and parish councils are also likely to be affected, as they can’t be adopted until the district’s Core Strategy is in place.

"It really is a complete shambles and it’s time the Conservative cabinet got a grip on things."

Coun Saint said he shared Coun Wright's concerns, but staffing issues within the council's own policy team and delays by external consultants in producing the vast amount of specialist and technical evidence needed to support the strategy had derailed the project. But he added most of the documents had now been received, extra resource was being put in and he hoped to announce a revised timetable shortly.

"Despite the fears, every one of our saved Local Plan policies is alive and kicking and exists without time limit. The only exception is where there is a conflict with the NPPF and there are very few of these.

"However, I will not tolerate mass house building based on arbitrary criteria masquerading as sound policy."

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