THE MUCH-ANTICIPATED public examination into Stratford District Council’s proposed future planning policy got underway this week.
The examination of the authority’s Core Strategy, which is being carried out by Government inspector Pete Drew, began at the council’s Elizabeth House HQ on Tuesday (January 6) and is expected to run until the end of the month.
The council has already faced criticism for delaying publication of the key document, which will guide development in the district until 2031.
And on the first day of the examination the council came under fire once more with the legal legal soundness of the strategy being questioned, and one developer suggesting the process be suspended to allow the council to carry out the necessary work required to make the document fully compliant.
In his opening statement planning and housing policy manager Dave Nash insisted the final document had involved “a long, complex process of research, engagement and debate.”
But this was immediately queried by a number of developers as well as Chesterton and Kingston Parish Meeting’s chairman, Andy Turner, who argued there had been insufficient consultation for proposals to build a new settlement of 3,000 homes at Gaydon Lighthorne Heath (GLH).
The council was also accused of neglecting to properly assess alternative sites to the GLH proposal with lawyers for developers who had missed out stating their case as to why their schemes had been rejected.
And a representative for FORSE – the campaign group set up to fight the proposals – argued the decision to support GLH had been “filibustered through the council to avoid debate.”
Over the coming weeks a number of other issues are set to be discussed including the council’s Green Belt policy, its affordable housing provision and the highly-contested proposed settlement at GLH.
Following the month-long examination, government inspector Pete Drew will decide whether the council needs to make any modifications to the plan which is set to see 11,300 new homes built.
Pending a further period of public consultation and relevant modifications being made, the authority is hoping it could adopt its Core Strategy by July of this year.
Speaking about the criticism faced by the authority, Stratford District Council leader Chris Saint said: “It was anticipated the planning representatives of developers would make challenging assertions to try and achieve higher building numbers.
“The public examination is looking at all the evidence concerning housing supply and I am pleased that the Planning Inspector is able to deal with this as the examination proceeds.”
Visit https://www.stratford.gov.uk/planning/key-dates.cfm for the latest updates on the public examination.