The following Council press release will be of interest to those who have been following the years long development of the Local Plan for Spelthorne:
An independent inspector has now been appointed to examine the Spelthorne Local Plan, following submission to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities on 25 November 2022. The Plan will guide future development in the Borough over the next 15 years.
This is another positive step forward to progress the Local Plan through to adoption. It has taken over six years to reach this stage and having an out-of-date Local Plan and without a five-year supply of housing has counted against Spelthorne at appeal on developments the Council has refused. There are also other significant benefits the Local Plan will deliver, including family homes with gardens, affordable housing, local infrastructure, sports and recreation enhancements, a new sixth form college and greater protection for our urban open spaces.
The appointed inspector, Jameson Bridgwater DipTP MRTPI, will now contact Spelthorne through the Programme Officer to make arrangements for the examination. The Programme Officer provides the channel of communication between the inspector, the Council and those involved in the examination as the inspector can’t be spoken to directly in order to maintain impartiality.
It was announced recently by the Secretary of State, Michael Gove MP, that changes to national planning policy and guidance are expected to be announced before Christmas for consultation. The changes could have implications for Spelthorne’s Local Plan in terms of the number of homes that should be planned for and where development takes place, such as through releasing Green Belt and intensifying use of urban sites. Once the detail has been considered, there will be a Local Plan Task Group meeting followed by an Extraordinary Environment and Sustainability Committee meeting on 31 January 2023 to review the changes and what they mean for the Local Plan, plus options for how the Council can choose to proceed with the examination and respond to any updated Government policies.
However, just last Thursday the Housing Minister allowed a development of 970 houses on Green Belt in York. This scheme represents more than all the proposed Green Belt development for Spelthorne in its Submission Version of the Local Plan.
Cllr Ian Beardsmore, Chair of the Environment and Sustainability Committee, said: “We are pleased to have been appointed our inspector and can progress the Local Plan through to examination but the very mixed messages about changes to the planning system are seemingly contradictory. We are waiting for the detail before making any decisions and will be looking at all the options available to us. We know that our residents want a Local Plan adopted without further delay. However, if there are updates to policy that do offer us opportunities to make positive changes to our Plan, we still have that option.”