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Council considers withdrawal of Chiltern and South Bucks Local Plan

Words: Laura Edgar
Planning / iStock_000035898050

Buckinghamshire Council will decide at a meeting next week whether or not to withdraw the Chiltern and South Bucks (CSB) Local Plan from examination.

Chiltern and South Bucks district councils merged into a countywide unitary authority, Buckinghamshire Council, which came into being on 1 April – the date from which it became responsible for the plan.

A month later, two inspectors wrote to Buckinghamshire Council to say they had  “very serious concerns” about the local plan’s compliance with the legal duty. They warned it might have to be withdrawn.

The council said that it had reviewed the plan over the summer, having regard to these concerns, the Covid-19 pandemic and the government’s planning reforms set out in Planning for the Future.

Warren Whyte, cabinet member for planning and enforcement, explained: “In May 2020 the planning inspectors who were examining the draft CSB plan pointed out that there was a strong likelihood that the only option would be for the council to withdraw the plan. This was because, in their view, Chiltern and South Bucks district councils had not cooperated with Slough Borough Council to identify sites in the plan for meeting some of Slough’s housing needs which would otherwise not be met. Whilst we did not agree with the findings of the inspectors, we do believe the time is right to refocus our efforts and resources on completing a new local plan for the whole of Buckinghamshire.”

The council, he continued, acknowledges that withdrawing the plan “may put pressure on housing land supply in the short term, but we believe this will be mitigated by the fact that 87.5 per cent of the CSB plan area is within the green belt and 43 per cent in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which offers it a significant degree of protection”.

“The impact of Covid-19 has also been considerable and has brought significant changes to how and where we work, future shopping needs and our town centres. All this will need careful consideration and our strategy for addressing these issues should be incorporated into the new Buckinghamshire Local Plan.”

The council added that it will be responding to the Planning for the Future consultation, which closes on 29 October.

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