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31/01/2019

Stevenage launches legal challenge against local plan holding direction

Words: Laura Edgar
Stevenage / Shutterstock_1223084164

Stevenage Borough Council has requested a judicial review into the temporary holding direction on its local plan.

It was submitted to the secretary of state on 21 July 2016 and in October 2017 a planning inspector recommended that it should be adopted.

A month later, however, then-communities secretary Sajid Javid issued a holding direction (pdf) on the local plan, preventing its adoption. It was triggered by a request from local MP Stephen McPartland. His request raised “a number of issues”, including plan policies and supporting text relating to the regeneration of Stevenage train station and town centre.

The council then responded to questions asked by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) by the start of 2018, it said. “The reasons behind the ongoing delay still remain unclear.” 

The judicial review has been launched, the council explained, to address the delay and obtain a clear response from the government.

Sharon Taylor, leader of Stevenage Borough Council, said: “I am calling on the secretary of state to release the Stevenage Local Plan with immediate effect, and support us in building new homes, creating jobs and regenerating our town. We have worked closely with residents, different organisations, and local groups to have a clear plan for the town. These conversations started back in 2012, with several stages of consultation so that everyone can have their say. Having a clear plan in place is vital for the town, to protect our open spaces, offer new homes for our families, provide space for new jobs, and to help revitalise crucial parts of the town.”

She said the 14-month delay has affected plans for jobs, homes and the regeneration of the town.

“It is with real regret that our only option is to start legal proceedings. It remains my hope that we will see a positive response, and my door always remains open to find the best way ahead. I remain passionate and confident about Stevenage’s future. We have started to see new homes being provided, with over 168 new council homes completed towards our target of 500.”

The proposed local plan would replace the one that was adopted in 2004. It sets out proposals to regenerate the town centre, create employment opportunities and it allocates sites to build around 7,600 new homes across the town by 2031, including at least 25 per cent affordable homes.

Image credit | Shutterstock

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