Council pauses work on local plan review

A Dorset council has paused work on a partial review of its local plan, despite acknowledging that the move could leave the district more vulnerable to development by appeal.

Wareham: town in Purbeck, Dorset (picture: Chris Parker, Flickr)
Wareham: town in Purbeck, Dorset (picture: Chris Parker, Flickr)

The Purbeck District Local Plan Part 1 was adopted by the council in 2012. When it was approved by inspector David Hogger, it was on condition that the council would review it to see whether more development was possible in the future.

This summer, Purbeck District Council carried out a consultation on a partial review of the plan, which included proposals for additional housing growth over and above that identified in the Purbeck Local Plan Part 1.

In a statement issued earlier this month, the council said that the consultation had sought views on options to deliver around 3,080 extra homes in the district over the next 17 years to 2033, on top of 2,520 homes already identified in the local plan.

The statement said that 3,300 responses had been submitted to the consultation, which had highlighted a number of concerns, including a "significant level of objection to the overall number of new homes proposed; the location of new housing sites; the need for more affordable homes for local people; and concerns about flooding and loss of green belt and AONB land".

The statement added that the process would now be paused before an additional consultation takes place later in 2017.

Councillor Peter Wharf, chairman of the Purbeck Local Plan Partial Review Advisory Group, said that there would be risks associated with undertaking further work on the partial review as this will delay the process.

He said that the council had originally committed to complete the partial review by the end of 2017 - as required by the inspector - and there is a risk that some current local plan policies could be considered out of date if the review is not completed on time.

Wharf said: "Pausing the process does not come without risk. By doing this additional work, we could be left without an approved up-to-date local plan.

"The district would be more vulnerable to development ‘by appeal’ as the council would have less ground to object to development."

But he added: "However, in light of the huge number of responses this is a risk we must take, and it is important we do it right."

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