Local Plan Watch: Three key plan updates you may have missed

Here are three key stories on updates to local plans from the past fortnight, including an inspector warning a Hertfordshire council that it may need to be withdraw its draft strategy if there are further delays to its examination.

Welwyn Hatfield District Council offices. Image by Cmglee, Wikimedia
Welwyn Hatfield District Council offices. Image by Cmglee, Wikimedia

1) A planning inspector has blasted Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council for delays in submitting requested evidence for its long-emerging local plan and warned that the document may need to be withdrawn if there are further hold-ups. The Hertfordshire authority's draft local plan, which was submitted for examination in May 2017, provides for 12,000 homes between 2013 and 2032. 

Earlier this month, inspector Mel Middleton wrote to the council to cancel hearings scheduled for November into sites for housing allocations because he said the authority has failed to produce key evidence needed to enable the hearings to continue. Middleton’s letter said the council had previously promised to produce evidence to consider "the contributions various sites adjacent to the urban areas make to the purposes and openness of the green belt". He said it had "seemed to be a relatively straightforward process" and officers had "seemed confident" that the plan's examination could be concluded by the spring of 2019. But that was "a considerable underestimate", he added, and raised a potential question about "the appropriateness of the pragmatic approach that I took at that time". The council, he said, had also missed agreed deadlines to produce evidence on landscape sensitivity and a proposed green corridor.

As a result, Middleton asked the council to revise the agreed plan timetable, currently earmarks adoption for June next year. Middleton’s letter said if it was not possible to reduce delays beyond April 2020 to a minimum, or if "serious slippage" continues, "then I think we should consider the option of you withdrawing the plan with a view to re-submitting it for examination when the work is finally completed and there are no obvious soundness issues accompanying it".

Full story here.

2) South Tyneside Council has approved proposals for the release of 18 sites from the green belt in its new draft local plan in order to provide land for almost 3,000 new homes. The authority’s cabinet earlier this month approved the pre-publication draft of its local plan, which will now go out for consultation. 

The draft plan sets a target of 7,000 homes up to 2036. It aims to prioritise the re-use of brownfield land but proposes the release of 18 sites from the green belt, to provide 2,391 homes. In total, 114 hectares is proposed to be removed from the green belt, which the council said represents a two per cent reduction. The document seeks to locate the majority of new development in the main urban area of South Shields, Hebburn and Jarrow. Meanwhile, nine strategic employment sites totalling 194 hectares have been allocated, including a 41.6 hectare site at Boldon Business Park.

Full story here.

3) An inspector has advised an Essex council to remove three site allocations for a total of 196 homes from its emerging local plan, and has called for more work to assess the impact of an increase in nitrogen, nitrogen oxide and ammonia emissions on a nearby conservation area. The proposals were included among a list of 39 recommendations made by planning inspector Louise Phillips in a note to Epping Forest District Council following examination hearings on its local plan.

The largest of the three sites recommended for removal is currently allocated for 154 homes on open space in the middle of a housing area at Jessel Green, Debden. The document proposes a minimum of 11,400 new dwellings up to 2033 and was submitted to the secretary of state in September last year.

Full story here.



South Yorkshire: Doncaster Council published a draft version of its local plan on 12 August. It being consulted on until 30 September.Cornwall: Isles of Scilly Council published a draft version of its local plan on 12 August. It being consulted on until 13 September.

North Yorkshire: Hambleton District Council published a draft version of its local plan on 30 July. It being consulted on until 17 September.


Cumbria: The Lake District National Park Authority submitted its draft local plan to the secretary of state for examination on 1 August.

London: The Kensington and Chelsea Local Plan Partial Review has been found sound by an inspector, subject to modifications being made.

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