This is because the vote represents just the sort of considered approach we need to ensure that local plans support, rather than stop, the delivery of wider government initiatives.
Unlike some of its neighbouring authorities, Aylesbury Vale has been told it must provide thousands of additional homes to help support the growth expected in the Oxbridge corridor, despite that fact that there is still uncertainty over the exact route of the planned Expressway road.
It’s a perfectly sensible recognition of the scale of investment being planned in the region.
In contrast, Milton Keynes’ inspector has allowed ‘Plan:MK’ to proceed without such provision, simply based on a policy committing to an early review.
Aylesbury Vale is therefore correct in pointing out there are inconsistencies between these two Inspectors’ findings in two adjoining authorities, in what are very similar circumstances. But in its outrage and rebuttals, it has missed the bigger picture.
‘Predictable events’ such as Heathrow Airport expansion should be planned for and ‘known unknowns’ like the Oxbridge corridor should be addressed through contingencies. You can’t argue with the fact that this would reduce the dependence on an early review and help deliver increased growth more rapidly. If we must come down on one side, the ‘right’ approach is surely the one that doesn’t ignore the anticipated growth. Proactivity should always win the day over a defensive position when it comes to good planning and Aylesbury Vale’s inspector’s findings should be carefully considered by other authorities preparing their local plans.
If anything, Milton Keynes needs to be taking a leaf out of its neighbour’s book and identifying additional development allocations within Plan:MK. While Aylesbury Vale may currently feel like the odd one out, the reality is that it’s setting the benchmark we need to be following if the Oxbridge corridor is going to be a success.
Michael Knott, planning director, Barton Willmore
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