GREEN AND PLEASANT LAND: The future of development in Mole Valley will be laid out in the plan

Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser

A STUDY has identified 21 local planning authorities – including Mole Valley – as being most at risk of Government intervention

By Brian Haran

 Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 08.51.08

Photo by Andy Newbold Photography

Criteria were set out this year to ensure local plans, which set out proposals for house-building, land-use, development and green belt protection, contain up-to-date policies.

Planning minister Brandon Lewis said last July that, in cases where no local plan has been produced by early 2017, the Government “will intervene to arrange for the plan to be written, in consultation with local people”.

A February consultation document appeared to widen the scope of the government’s intervention plan, stating that authorities “which have not kept the policies in their local plans up-to-date will be a high priority for intervention”.

The document said that the Government will prioritise intervention where the least progress in plan-making has been made, where policies in plans have not been kept up to date, and where intervention would have the greatest impact in accelerating local plan production.

In a study published last Thursday, planning firm Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners (NLP) identifies a group of 21 local planning authorities that it considers might be most at risk of intervention. According to the consultancy, the authorities have been selected on the basis of their plan-making progress, local affordability ratios, and a comparison of household projection and housing completion data.

The study makes clear that the list is a “partial snapshot” and does not take into account any wider planning context, or exceptional circumstances, which the Government says it will consider.

“Notwithstanding, it does identify those local planning authorities that will need to speed progress in order to avoid risk of intervention,” the report said.

Mole Valley District Council started work on a Local Plan after terminating work on a Housing and Travellers Plan in December 2014 amid falling housing targets and stronger Government green belt guidelines.

A proposed Local Development Scheme, which lays out the timetable for creating a local plan, was submitted to the council’s executive committee at the end of last month.

It proposed work on the plan would begin this summer, with a view to adopting it in autumn 2018.

But at the meeting councillors agreed to aim to have the plan submitted by March 2018.

Speaking at the time, Councillor Sarah Seed, executive member for planning, said: “We are committed to protecting the green belt whilst recognising our communities will need new homes, jobs and other facilities over the next ten to fifteen years.

“Preparing a new Local Plan will give everyone the chance to have a say about where any new development should be located, how much should be planned for and what type of development is required.”

According to the NLP report, 139 local plans have been submitted for examination since the introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework in March 2012.

The study found of these, about 30 per cent required an immediate or early review.

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