Epping Forest District Council: Local Plan approved by government inspector
Politics / Thu 16th Feb 2023 at 03:06pm
THE Inspector has confirmed that providing some specific changes, known as Main Modifications are made, then the Local Plan is sound and can be adopted by the council.
The Local Plan is a key council policy document which will help shape the future of the district by guiding where and how future development will come forward. Importantly, it allocates land for the new homes (including affordable homes) and jobs to be delivered across the district which will be supported by necessary new infrastructure.
The Local Plan policies will be used to assess planning applications and other related development proposals, to ensure that new development is sustainable, well designed, and supported by the required infrastructure, in order to provide for the future needs of residents and businesses in the district. It also provides protection for the district’s important open spaces, and the natural and historic environment and sets a high bar for creating safe, healthy and accessible places.
The publication of the Inspector’s report marks the close of the examination of the council’s new Local Plan. The Local Plan will be taken forward for adoption to a meeting of the council scheduled for Monday 6 March 2023.
Councillor Nigel Bedford Portfolio Holder for Place said:
“This is an important milestone for the council. Being in a position to now adopt the Local Plan means that we can begin to deliver much needed new homes and jobs whilst ensuring that we protect the important natural and built environment which makes Epping Forest district so special.”
All local authorities must produce Local Plans. They set out a vision for the future of each area and provide a framework for addressing housing need, plus other social, economic and environmental priorities. The Inspector’s report and associated Main Modifications are available to be viewed on the council’s website for information only. There is no opportunity at this stage in the plan-making process for further changes to be made to the Local Plan. In addition, the council must incorporate all of the recommended Main Modifications to the Local Plan.
Following a positive resolution by the council, there are a number of formal steps that need to be taken. This includes the publication of an Adoption Statement, a Sustainability Appraisal (incorporating Strategic Environmental Assessment) Post Adoption Statement, a Habitats Regulations Assessment Post Adoption Statement and making the adopted Plan available for inspection at a number of locations.
The adopted Plan is then subject to a legal challenge period of 6 weeks, when the Plan could be challenged through an application to the High Court under Section 113 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004. The grounds for such a challenge will be set out in the Adoption Statement and are that (a) the document is not within the appropriate power and/or (b) a procedural requirement has not been complied with.
So much for the local Tory pledge in their election leaflets in April 2021 to stop development to the south and west of Harlow. The simple fact is, that as we form the main part of the HGGT project, the residents of Harlow should have been consulted about the plan to build thousands of homes on the Green Belt around the town. The inspectors report makes interesting reading, more of that to follow later. You still have time to sign the Harlow Alliance petition against these developments at https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-building-on-harlow-s-green-belt
Paragraph 35 on page 12 of the Inspector's report caught my eye: "It is important to meet society’s basic needs for housing, including affordable housing." We will see how that works out in practice when the developers plead poverty
The population of the EFDC area saw only a small increase between 1961 and 2011. Calculating the housing requirement, Point 46 on page 14 makes interesting reading, it includes "to take account of increased migration from London". The simple fact is, people can only move out if more homes are built on the Green Belt.