William Eichler 09 January 2020

Council ‘vows’ to defend local plan

Council ‘vows’ to defend local plan image

Sevenoaks District Council has vowed not to withdraw its draft local plan despite continued pressure from the planning inspector who they accuse of ‘ignoring evidence’.

The planning inspector Karen Baker wrote to the council last week in what is a long running dispute urging them once again to rethink their local plan.

Ms Baker wrote that she had concerns over some aspects of the plan’s ‘soundness’ and warned that the council had failed in its duty to cooperate.

The duty to cooperate is the legal requirement to work with neighbouring authorities to meet previously unmet housing needs.

‘The council has not adequately undertaken constructive engagement with neighbouring authorities to resolve the issue of unmet housing need in the district and has failed to plan strategically by not sufficiently examining how these needs could be accommodated,’ she wrote.

‘The absence of such engagement prior to submission means that the submitted plan has not been shaped by adequate consideration of how Sevenoaks’ full housing need was to be met.’

Ms Baker acknowledged that Sevenoaks District Council had supplied some evidence of cooperation with other authorities, but she concluded that ‘none provides any substantial evidence which would lead me to a different view.’

In his response, the council’s strategic planning manager, James Gleave, said that the council would not withdraw its draft plan.

He argued that Ms Baker did not ‘provide a clear understanding’ of what constructive engagement with neighbours should be and accuses her of ignoring ‘significant evidence’ from neighbouring authorities.

Cllr Julia Thornton, the council’s cabinet member for development and conservation, said: ‘In an area that is 93% Green Belt, much of it within Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, we have worked with residents, communities, developers and other groups to put forward a plan that delivers much needed housing and infrastructure, such as medical centres, transport and schools.

‘It continues to protect our very special environment and the rural nature of the district. The plan would meet almost 90% of the Government’s housing need figure for the district. This is a significant achievement considering the constraints.’

Cllr Peter Fleming, leader of the council, added that he would be writing to the secretary of state to ask him to intervene.

‘It appears something is very wrong with the system if a council with its communities works hard for four years to produce an evidence-based plan that delivers housing, jobs and infrastructure investment, whilst protecting the environment, only to be halted by a single individual,’ he said.

‘We will not be withdrawing our Local Plan and the Inspector will produce her report in due course. We will then take the strongest action open to us.’

For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Head of Looked After Children and Vulnerable Young People

Enfield London Borough Council
Up to £89,319
 This is an exciting opportunity to lead all the services that support Enfield’s children in care and care leavers. Enfield (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recuriter: Enfield London Borough Council

Head of Communities

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
to £61,751 (pay award pending)
We are looking for an innovative and knowledgeable senior professional to join our leadership team with strong experience of working in communities... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Economic Development Officer (Town Centres)

North West Leicestershire District Council
Band F, £29,636 - £32,878 per annum
The Economic Development Officer (Town Centres) post forms part of the Council’s Business Focus team who provide help directly to businesses. Coalville, Leicestershire
Recuriter: North West Leicestershire District Council

Educational Psychologist

Camden London Borough Council
£44,131 - £53,34
The ideal candidates will have an excellent understanding of psychological frameworks and their application in... Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Economic Development Officer

North West Leicestershire District Council
Band F, £29,636 - £32,878
Are you interested in a challenge and want to help shape the future of North West Leicestershire? Coalville, Leicestershire
Recuriter: North West Leicestershire District Council

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how how flexible workspaces can lead the way in regeneration for local authorities, Why local authority intervention is key to successful urban regeneration schemes and if the Government’s challenge of embracing beauty is an opportunity for communities.

The March issue also takes a closer look at Blackburn with Darwen Council's first digital health hub to help people gain control over health and care services.

Register for your free digital issue