New hope for Warwick district’s Local Plan

Local Plan
Local Plan

An inspector’s letter has given hope to Warwick District Council that its Local Plan may not have to be withdrawn and restarted.

Last Friday, the council received a letter from Kevin Ward of The Planning Inspectorate indicating that in principle he is prepared to consider continuing with the submitted plan while agreeing to a period of suspension to address a number of concerns.

Before formally agreeing to this approach, the Inspector has asked Coventry and Warwickshire’s councils to reach an agreement for dealing with Coventry’s unmet housing need.

The districts hoping this agreement can be reached on Tuesday September 29 when the outcome of the meeting of the Shadow Economic Prosperity Board is known.

District council leader Cllr Andrew Mobbs said: “This represents a positive response from the Inspector to the Council’s suggested approach which we set out in a letter to him in August.

“It means there is a possibility that the examination of the current Local Plan can continue and that it may not be necessary to withdraw the current plan and start again.

“This is, therefore, a constructive and pragmatic way forward.”

This latest development follows an earlier letter from the inspector in June in which he suggested there were fundamental issues with the submitted Local Plan and that it should be withdrawn.

The plan set out 12,900 new homes across the district, with the vast majority in Leamington and Warwick

But the inspector’s report found a shortfall of 249 homes amid a “persistent under delivery of housing” across Warwick district.

The shortage is part of a wider one of 4,000 across Coventry and Warwickshire which must be met if the plan, which sets out development for the next 15 years- is to be adopted in line with national guidelines.

The Council had concerns regarding these findings and as a result proposed an alternative last month.

And the Inspector’s latest letter recognises that his significant concerns may now be effectively addressed.

Cllr Mobbs said: “Although there remain significant challenges in reaching agreement, we hope to respond to the inspector’s letter in the autumn once the joint working reaches fruition.

“Until then, the Local Plan examination continues to be held in abeyance.

“This is good news and offers a step in the right direction, but it is still a demanding process and timetable.

“As leader, I and this council’s officers will work with leaders from neighbouring authorities and their officers to achieve this very ambitious but important timetable.”