Surrey council decides there is no need for five-year update to core strategy

A local plan review by Reigate and Banstead Borough Council has concluded that "none of the policies in the core strategy requires updating or modification", despite an inspector advising that matters including housing requirements may need to be reassessed.

Reigate. Image: Flickr / Allen Watkin
Reigate. Image: Flickr / Allen Watkin

A requirement to review local plans every five years was brought in by the revised 2018 National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

Reigate and Banstead Council adopted its core strategy, covering the period from 2012 to 2027, in July 2014, exactly five years ago this month

In May 2018, the local authority submitted a development management plan for examination, which together with the core strategy will comprise the local plan, setting out further detail on planning policies and site allocations.

Last week, planning inspector Helen Hockenhull wrote to the council advising that she had found the development management plan sound, subject to modifications. 

Explaining her decision, Hockenhull noted that the council had commenced a review of its core strategy.

"It is through this review that the housing requirements of the borough should be reassessed," she said.

Hockenhull added that further matters for consideration as part of the core strategy review should include the impact of planned development on the highways network and delivery of employment floorspace.

However, an officers’ report approved by Reigate and Banstead councillors earlier in the month advised that the core strategy review had concluded that "each of the policies is in broad conformity with the provisions of the 2019 NPPF and all other relevant national policies".

Consequently, "none of the policies in the core strategy requires updating or modification at this present time", it added.

Officers advised that 3,647 homes had been delivered in the borough since the start of the plan period, 427 in excess of the adopted housing requirement, and that the council could demonstrate a housing land supply of 7.8 years.

"The policy is therefore clearly operating and performing effectively in ensuring sufficient and appropriate land is available to meet housing needs, and is considered capable of doing so for the remainder of the plan period based on the council’s latest housing trajectory," they said.

But officers also advised members: "It is important to note that there is a clear distinction between a review of a plan, and an update or modification to it … whether, having conducted the review, an update is required, is a matter of judgment for the council."

Members committed to "careful on-going monitoring" of matters including housing delivery, a forthcoming review of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty by Natural England, and plans for Gatwick Airport expansion.

Reigate and Banstead Council was approach for comment but was yet to respond at the time of publication.

Among the modifications to the development management plan that the inspector approved is deleting a policy that sought to remove Redhill Aerodrome from the green belt and safeguard it for future development.

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