Local plan delay will avoid risk of rejection

Delaying the adoption of the High Peak’s Local Plan is necessary to avoid the “serious risk” of the plan being rejected, High Peak Borough Council have said.

The Buxton Advertiser reported last week how an emergency meeting of the council had been called after proposals to delay the adoption of the borough’s local plan were put forward at a meeting.

Last July, councillors approved a timetable which would see the plan - which will shape development across the borough until 2028 - being adopted by September 2014. But the proposal now put forward is to lengthen the agreed timetable so the plan would not be adopted until February 2015.

High Peak Borough Council have now said the increased timescale for implementation is being proposed to make sure the authority have all the evidence they need over the number of houses that should be built in the borough to avoid the plan being rejected.

Councillor Godfrey Claff, Executive Member for Regeneration at High Peak Borough Council, said: “We are looking at increasing the timescale for the adoption of the local plan by a few months. The local plan will be the main guide for decisions on planning applications up to 2028, so it is very important that we get it right.

“The government has a large say in what our local plan says through recent planning laws it has passed and through its planning inspectors who will assess our plan and decide if it is in line with government policies. In particular, current government policy is to significantly increase the numbers of houses built throughout the country so the inspectors will assess if we are meeting our local housing need.

“The latest census figures show that High Peak can expect the number of households to increase by around 400 per year for at least the next ten years. That should mean we should be building 400 new houses per year but current council policy is for 270. Inspectors will not accept that.

“In order, therefore, to defend our position for the number of houses we think High Peak can reasonably take, which we would have to make at a public enquiry if our plan was rejected, we need to make sure we have all the necessary evidence to support our view that we should build fewer houses than the household projections suggest.

“Without this additional evidence there is a serious risk that the plan would not be accepted and that we would have to start again. This would cost tax payers money and leave us without a clear guide for development in the High Peak which is, clearly, a situation we need to avoid at all costs.”