East Cambs Council goes on the offensive over its decision to scrap the emerging Local Plan - with deputy leader Anna Bailey leading the charge
PUBLISHED: 13:22 01 March 2019
East Cambridgeshire District Council has responded to criticism of its decision to formally withdraw the emerging Local Plan.
Deputy council leader Anna Bailey was adamant it was the right decision to withdraw and revert back to the 2015 Local Plan.
“Let’s be clear - the issue with the backlog of undelivered homes in East Cambs is not the fault of the authority,” she said.
“The district council has one of the most open, positive planning application processes going. This council has updated its Local Plan in 2009, again in 2015 and wanted to do so again in 2018/19.
“The vast majority of councils across the country cannot boast such a track record of investing time and resource into keeping its Local Plan up to date.”
Cllr Bailey said: “The problem is that the developers, housebuilders and landowners are not building the houses we have given them permission for, which is currently over 5,000.
“I would ask the Housebuilders’ Federation (who have criticised their decision) to encourage its members to get on and build the homes in East Cambridgeshire for which they have been given permission.”
“We cannot, and will not, accept modifications from an inspector that add 1,500 homes to the overall requirement with no justification.”
She said the inspector also proposed to “arbitrarily increase the number of houses on certain site allocations that are untested and undeliverable (making us almost immediately open to challenge) and where communities are already taking large amounts of growth.”
The inspector’s recommendations, if implemented, would “rip up the community led development policy that is delivering truly affordable homes for local people to be able to afford to continue living in their own community.
“Community led developments deliver sites that are built sensitively to the needs and wants of communities with appropriate supporting infrastructure”
She said the inspector’s recommendations would also have deleted the descriptions of individual villages and settlements “and the requirement to build sensitively and that rips up higher accessibility standards for disabled people.”
Cllr Bailey said: “The modifications suggested to the new Local Plan would disempower our local communities and render the Local Plan unrecognisable from that submitted for examination - it would no longer be the district council’s plan, but a plan imposed on our district by the inspector. “
She added: “We need more homes, including affordable homes and more employment opportunities. But it is vital that such growth is quality growth, delivered with community involvement, in the right location and with the right supporting infrastructure.
“The developers need to do their bit and get on and build!”
A council spokesman said: “The withdrawn Local Plan and related documents have been removed from the public domain, as per the legislative requirements.”
The council felt that modifications suggested by the inspector who took evidence ahead of publication proposed amendments that were deemed unacceptable.