Plan examination restarted after release of guidance

The examination of a neighbourhood plan postponed following a legal threat will resume in May as a result of the government's new planning guidance being published.

Winslow: plan being examined. Credit: Lutmans
Winslow: plan being examined. Credit: Lutmans

The examination of the draft Winslow neighbourhood plan, covering a town in Aylesbury Vale, Buckinghamshire, was due to take place in February.

But developer Gladman submitted a legal objection contending that the neighbourhood plan is based on housing numbers in an emerging local plan that has been withdrawn by Aylesbury Vale District Council after being declared unsound.

The neighbourhood plan’s examiner, Nigel McGurk, said the examination should be delayed until a decision on a judicial review against a neighbourhood plan in Cheshire, where similar arguments have been raised by a developer, is concluded.

The Tattenhall and District Neighbourhood Plan, which passed examination and was approved in a local referendum last autumn, is being judicially reviewed by two housebuilders.

The draft Winslow plan allocates five sites for 455 new in the plan period up to 2031. 

Llew Monger, chairman of the Winslow Neighbourhood Plan steering group and a town and district councillor, said the government’s Planning Practice Guidance (PPG), published last month, "makes it clear that neighbourhood plans can be brought forward even where there is no up to date local plan in place".

He said: "In the light of this, we contacted Aylesbury Vale and the examiner and asked them to re-instate the examination. Mr McGurk advised the council that he was happy to do that."

An Aylesbury Vale Council spokesman said: "Following the release of new national planning policy guidance, the examiner has decided to proceed with the Winslow Neighbourhood Plan public hearing. 

"The legal challenge is still waiting to be heard, but because of the new guidance the examiner has decided not to wait for the outcome."

Dave Chetwyn, managing director of Urban Vision Enterprise CIC and planning adviser to umbrella body Locality, said: "There’s no legal reason why a neighbourhood plan, if it is evidence-based, has to wait for the revision of a local plan.

"The PPG clarifies the issue of when a neighbourhood plan carries weight."

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