Council compelled to withdraw Core Strategy

Amber Valley Borough Council has expressed regret at having to withdraw its Core Strategy from the public examination that was due to resume next week.

The Council had believed that after many years, and considerable public consultation and heated debate about potential housing development sites, it was finally in a position to secure formal adoption of the Core Strategy.

The reason for the withdrawal is that, following discussions with relevant housing developers in the last two weeks, the Council can no longer be confident that the developers will deliver the previously predicted number of houses within the next five years on the sites proposed by the Council. Government policy requires the Council to show that enough homes will be built in the next five years to meet objectively assessed housing need.

Cllr Alan Cox, Leader of the Council, said:
“I am deeply dismayed that such a decision had to be made at the eleventh hour, after so much effort and expenditure on the process by so many. Regrettably, however, despite the fact that there are many sites within the Borough that have been given planning approval by the Council, the Council has no powers to force developers to start building the houses, or influence the timeframe over which a site is developed.”

He added:
“The Council remains fully committed to establishing an up-to-date Local Plan for Amber Valley, which will provide a robust set of policies and proposals to support housing and economic growth in the Borough, whilst at the same time safeguarding and enhancing the environment. It will not, however, be practical to achieve a demonstrable five year supply, through the identification of further sites for housing development, without re-visiting the overall strategy for housing growth.

“The process of reviewing the growth strategy and reaching a conclusion as to an alternative approach, including appropriate public consultation and engagement, will take at least 12 months.”

In addressing concerns about the implications of making decisions without an  up-todate Local Plan, particularly where the Council cannot show a five year land supply, Cllr Cox said:

“This does not mean that any development, whatever the impacts, will be acceptable. Neither does it mean that there would be no point in refusing a housing scheme because we wouldn’t stand a chance on appeal. National planning policy, and the objective of pursuing sustainable development, is a material consideration in planning decisions irrespective of the status of an area’s development plan and will enable the Council to continue to protect the Green Belt and other areas of environmental importance for heritage, landscape and other reasons.”

He added:
“Levels of planning appeals upheld against an authority’s original determination remain constant at only one per cent of all planning decisions in England. There are several recent cases where development has been refused permission, even in the absence of an up-to-date Local Plan or five-year land supply, because it would conflict with national policy objectives.”

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