Local Plan Watch: Covid-19 outbreak causes delay to consultations and examination hearings

Central Bedfordshire, Chiltern and South Bucks, North Hertfordshire and Rutland are among the first set of councils whose local plans face immediate delays due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Planning Inspectorate: resumption of examination hearings "unlikely to be soon"
Planning Inspectorate: resumption of examination hearings "unlikely to be soon"

Rutland County Council announced that it had postponed the launch of the final round of consultation on its draft local plan due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The authority’s full council had approved the pre-submission local plan for statutory consultation on 10 February. The draft incorporated results from additional consultation, which had taken place in August and September 2018.

But the council announced last week that it had postponed the consultation until further notice in light of the escalation of Covid-19.

The authority said the decision would be kept under review until such time as it is “appropriate” to begin the consultation.

The news came in the same week that two local plan examinations were postponed by the Planning Inspectorate.

The examination hearings into North Hertfordshire District Council’s local plan had been due to start this week, but the authority announced that the examination had been postponed.

The hearings into Chiltern and South Bucks local plan, which had been due to start this week, have also been postponed.

The inspector examining the Central Bedfordshire local plan has also stated that hearings are not likely to resume until September “at the earliest”.

The Planning Inspectorate has issued a statement stating that local plan hearings “cannot currently take place”, in the light of the latest government guidance to control the outbreak.

“We do not know when they may be able to resume, but it is unlikely to be soon,” it added. 




West Sussex: Horsham District Council is continuing consultation on its draft local plan until 30 March. The consultation started on 17 February, and the council said all consultation events had taken place before the social distancing measures came into effect, and consultation material is still available on the council’s website.

Essex: Harlow District Council is carrying out a consultation on a schedule of proposed main modifications to its local development plan. The modifications are open for consultatio until 27 April.

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