In a report published last week, inspector Elizabeth Ord concluded that the Gloucester, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury joint core strategy (JCS) provides an appropriate basis for the planning of the JCS area up to 2031, providing a number of modifications are made to the document.
Ord’s report found that, while there are "issues with the plan, which cannot be immediately resolved", it is in the public interest to have an adopted plan in place as soon as possible to "reduce continuing ad-hoc, unplanned development".
"Rather than delaying matters further," the inspector’s report said, "the balance is in favour of finding the plan sound now subject to an immediate partial review".
The inspector’s report said that, in response to "shortfalls" in the plan’s provisions, a number of focussed reviews to the joint plan will be necessary.
According to the report, while the JCS authorities have sought to meet the full housing requirement for the plan period, overall, against the requirement of 35,175, there is currently a supply of 31,824 dwellings, leaving a shortfall of 3,351.
It said that, as Gloucester is unable to meet its housing requirement for the full plan period - its shortfall is 1,346 dwellings - "there should be an immediate review of Gloucester’s housing supply following adoption of the JCS".
The report recommends that the review of Gloucester’s housing supply is undertaken in tandem with Stroud’s local plan review, which is currently underway.
It points out that the JCS authorities’ statement of cooperation with Stroud District Council "provides a tool for exploring the possibility of housing land supply in Stroud contributing to the JCS authorities’ needs, where it is reasonable to do so and consistent with achieving sustainable development".
The inspector’s report adds that Tewkesbury’s housing land supply position has "significantly changed" since submission of the plan, "leaving it with a substantial shortfall".
"Consequently, to avoid further delay in adoption of the JCS, an immediate review of the plan is the most appropriate way forward to identify appropriate housing allocations".
The inspector’s report also said that a review of the plan’s retail policy is required in order to overcome "shortcomings". "Subject to an immediate review … this strategy can be made sound, and in these circumstances the shortcomings are not fatal to the overall soundness of the plan," the report said.