Wednesday, 10 February 2016

20,000-home development on hold after Localism Bill fears

Plans to build 20,000 homes in Stevenage have been thrown out after the Planning Inspectorate deemed the council’s draft Core Strategy ‘unsound’.

Stevenage is designated as a major housing and employment growth point in the regional strategy, the East of England Plan, which was adopted in May 2008..

The plan involved Stevenage Council linking with North Hertfordshire District Council – who were planning to build 9,600 homes as part of an urban extension to the west and north of Stevenage.

However North Herts backed out of the expansion in June 2010 after Eric Pickles announced he would abolish regional strategies with the Localism Bill.

Instead, powers are proposed for districts to set their own local housing targets and as such North Herts has begun work on setting its own target in anticipation of the passage of the Bill.

The authority told the Inspector, Douglas Machin, it was unlikely that any local target would make provision for Stevenage’s needs.

This convinced the Inspector that the growth of the town planned in Stevenage’s draft Core Strategy is now undeliverable.

Mr Machin’s recommendation to withdraw the draft Core Strategy is binding.

John Gardner, executive member for environment and regeneration at Stevenage Council, said: ‘The contents of the Inspector’s report require careful and detailed consideration.

‘Before we decide precisely what we want to do, we would like to see the progress of the Localism Bill, the long-awaited National Planning Framework and the revised Development Plan Regulations.

‘The Council will also want to take into account the impending decisions in the High Court on the challenge to the West of Stevenage planning permission and the Court of Appeal decision by Cala Homes.

‘We have not made any decisions about the future development of the town following our receipt of the Inspector’s report and we will not do so before the autumn.’

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