Residents let down by local plan delays

An amended timetable for the adoption of the High Peak’s Local Plan - which will shape development across the borough until 2028 - has been agreed this week.

An extraordinary meeting of High Peak Borough Council was held on Monday night when councillors approved delaying the adoption of the vital document until February 2015 - five months later than the previously agreed date of September 2014.

The move was put forward in order to give the authority time to collect further evidence relating to a number of issues, including the number of houses that should be built in the borough.

Councillors had previously agreed their preferred option of 270 per year, significantly below the objectively assessed need of 400 houses a year.

Proposing the move to members, Cllr Godfrey Claff said: “I understand the frustration that appears to have led to the calling of this extraordinary council meeting.”

He added: “The gap between the council’s preferred option of 270 per year and that assessed need is huge.

“If we are to get that reduced, we need the evidence to argue this.

“If members are really serious about the figure of 270 or even lower, it would be sheer lunacy to press ahead without the evidence to support that.

“There really are no shortcuts.”

Seconding the recommendation, Cllr Caitlin Bisknell said: “If this council votes to keep to the original timetable without obtaining further detailed evidence, the local plan would almost certainly be rejected by the planning inspector.

“Communities across the borough from Chapel to Harpur Hill to Glossop would be left vulnerable.”

Cllr Tony Ashton, however, criticised the delay, and put forward a motion of no confidence in Cllr Claff - who as executive member for regeneration is responsible for the local plan - calling for his resignation. The motion was defeated.

Cllr Linda Baldry said: “The local plan should be about a thought through vision for the High Peak that builds communities, employment and a better quality of life for our residents.

“What we have now will be houses where we do not want or need them.

“Our residents have been let down badly and need answers and assurances. This is not a vision but a nightmare.”

Cllr John Faulkner added: “I think there is no doubt there has been incompetence on the leadership of this issue, both from an officers point of view and from the political leadership from the executive.”