Local Plan Watch: Inspectors cast doubt over York green belt boundary methodology

Inspectors examining the City of York local plan have accepted that the plan does not need to demonstrate exceptional circumstances to justify its proposed green belt boundaries, but have expressed concerns over the methodology for setting the boundaries.

In a letter to the council issued last month, inspectors Simon Berkeley and Andrew McCormack note that the plan does not seek to establish a new green belt, as the “general extent” of the designation had already been set by the Yorkshire and Humber regional spatial strategy. 

But as the green belt boundary had not been previously established in a local plan, the document also does not seek to alter existing green belt boundaries, they say.

“We therefore conclude that for the purposes of consistency with national planning policy, it is not necessary for any of the Green Belt boundaries proposed in the local plan to be justified by the existence of exceptional circumstances”, the letter says.

But the inspectors say there are “elements” of the approach taken to delineating the proposed Green Belt boundaries “that are not adequately robust”. 

“We have serious concerns about the justification for the precise Green Belt boundaries proposed in the local plan, particularly in terms of their consistency with the national planning policy framework,” they say.

The letter proposes three options for the plan, one of which is to withdraw the local plan from examination.

Meanwhile, an inspector has approved Lancaster City Council’s draft local plan, including a housing target of 522 homes a year - but has recommended the removal of a green belt site allocated for 500 homes, saying the land currently serves to prevent urban sprawl.

LOCAL PLAN UPDATES

EXAMINATION NEWS

London: The inspector’s report on the Hackney Local Plan was issued to the council on 10 June 2020. The inspector found that the plan was sound, provided modifications were made.

Surrey: The inspector’s report on the Runnymede Local Plan was issued to the council on 28 May 2020. The inspector found that the plan was sound, provided modifications were made.

Devon: The inspector’s report on Mid Devon Local Plan was issued to the council on 26 June 2020. The inspector found that the plan was sound, provided modifications were made. 

SUBMISSION NEWS

Suffolk: Ipswich Borough Council has submitted a draft version of its local plan to the secretary of state for examination. The document was submitted on 10 June 2020.

 


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