Council to consider next steps after Planning Inspector’s SLP ‘Initial Hearing’ conclusions

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News release: 29 November 2016

The Planning Inspector has outlined his conclusions drawn from an Initial Hearing session on 26 October associated with the development of St Albans’ Draft Strategic Local Plan. Once adopted, this set of planning documents will form the blueprint for what housing and infrastructure can be built where in the District up until 2031.

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The Initial Hearing session was called by the Inspector to consider questions concerning whether the Council had met its ‘duty to co-operate’ obligations. This is a council’s legal duty to co-operate with neighbouring local authorities and other bodies on cross-boundary planning matters.

Following the Hearing on 26 October, the inspector, Mr David Hogger, has written to the Council with his conclusions.

In his letter, the Inspector says that “the evidence does not enable me to conclude that … (the) Council gave satisfactory consideration to identifying, addressing and seeking co-operation … to strategic cross-boundary matters and priorities.”

The inspector also says in his letter:

“It must be emphasised that this does not mean that St Albans City and District should be expected to accommodate additional growth – that is not necessarily the case.  What it does mean is that the Council should give detailed and rigorous consideration to strategic cross-boundary matters and priorities and draw robust conclusions with regards to whether or not any of those priorities could be delivered in a sustainable way within the District, bearing in mind the environmental and other constraints that exist.”

The Inspector acknowledges, in his letter, that there may be consequences on the Council’s housing land supply and the adoption of an up-to-date Development Plan.

Cllr Julian Daly, Leader of St Albans City and District Council, said: “This has already been a long and difficult process. It’s not clear to me how the Inspector has taken into account independent representations made in support of the Council.  I include those from the Local Enterprise Partnership, the Home Builders Federation and leading QC Peter Village.”

Cllr David Yates, Planning Policy Committee LibDem Group Spokesperson said: “What is clear is that this is a setback and that it is important we continue to work together to get a Local Plan in place as soon as possible.”

Cllr Iain Grant, Planning Policy Committee Labour Group Spokesperson commented: “It is disappointing.  Much needed affordable housing will be delayed. That will help nobody.”

Following the Inspector’s Initial Hearing conclusions, the Council will be considering the various options with its advisors before deciding what course of action to take.

The Inspector’s letter is available on the Council’s website.

The Council is continuing with its current draft Detailed Local Plan consultation which runs until Wednesday 21st December. The outcomes of this will provide the Council with valuable feedback on the proposed detailed policies underpinning the draft Strategic Local Plan.

Councillor contacts:

Councillor Julian Daly, Leader of St Albans City and District Council
Tel: 01582 715645, 07775 657200
Email: cllr.j.daly@stalbans.gov.uk

Cllr David Yates, Planning Policy Committee LibDem Group Spokesperson
Email: david.yates@stalbans.gov.uk

Cllr Iain Grant, Planning Policy Committee Labour Group Spokesperson
Email: cllr.I.Grant@stalbans.gov.uk

Contact for the media:

Claire Wainwright, Executive and Communications Manager, St Albans City and District Council, Tel: 01727 819572, Email: claire.wainwright@stalbans.gov.uk
www.stalbans.gov.uk