Warwick District Council to suspend its local plan rather than start again

The Local Plan
The Local Plan

Councillors have gone against the recommendation of an inspector and have voted to suspend and revise Warwick District Council’s Local Plan as opposed to starting work on a new document.

They say a letter sent by Greg Clark - the Secretary of State for Local Government - which advises inspectors not to hold up local plans unnecessarily, will work in their favour as the council aims to bring the Local Plan up to an acceptable standard.

And on Wednesday evening, council members also voted to allocate £30,000 from the authority’s planing appeals reserve to achieve the changes needed.

A letter outlining its intention has been sent by the council, which will remind the inspector of what the Secretary of State has said.

Cllr George Illingworth (Con, Kenilworth Abbey ) said: “We have to make it clear in the letter that, actually, the inspector’s career is in danger, because if you read what the minister has said carefully he is actually telling inspectors not to delay Local Plans unnecessarily.

“The minister has made it perfectly clear that it is quite wrong for the inspector to hold up local plans, which are otherwise pretty well developed.”

Cllr Michael Coker (Con, Kenilworth Abbey), the council’s deputy leader, who was speaking in the absence of leader Cllr Andrew Mobbs, said: “I have had the benefit of having met with the minister and he encouraged me to take this course.

“Effectively, what was said to inspectors is that they have to be pragmatic about their decisions and allow a plan to be put into place and not stall it.”

The Local Plan, which sets out housing and development across the district over the next 15 years, was rejected by the planning inspectorate in June for falling short in the number of new houses it would provide.

The 12,900 homes included in the plan, most of which would be to the south of Warwick and Leamington, were deemed to be insufficient to help meet the regional requirement up to 2031.

By suspending and revising the plan, which has an impact on other authorities, the council could have the changes in place by December 2016 but a new plan would not be ready until autumn 2017.