Cabinet approves Local Plan
Wycombe District Council’s Cabinet unanimously reviewed and approved the pre-submission version of the new Wycombe District Local Plan.
This extensive document sets out where the homes and infrastructure will be built up to 2033, makes provision for employment sites and also protects the special environment and characteristics of the Chilterns. The policies in the local plan will help to map out the future of the district and will be used to guide local development and planning decisions for the next 15 years.
The extensive document is over 450 pages long and is supported by a large number of detailed technical reports, all of which are available on the council’s website. The plan shows the locations where 10,925 new homes may be built to meet local housing needs and shows that 21 hectares of employment land will be allocated and large swathes of our local area will remain protected against future development.
Over half the housing provision will be in and around High Wycombe and roughly a quarter in Princes Risborough where 2,050 out of 2,650 homes will be built within the plan period up to 2033 along with over 400 in Longwick and the Kimble. Other rural areas will take smaller pockets of development. Over half the housing will be on brownfield sites.
Councillor David Johncock, the Cabinet Member responsible for Planning and Sustainability at Wycombe District Council said: “The local plan is about striking the right balance – on the one hand, we have a severe shortage of housing which particularly affects young people and, on the other, we need to protect our wonderful countryside.
"I believe our local plan addresses both. We have worked positively with our neighbouring Councils to review every inch of land across the whole County and we’ve had robust discussions with stakeholders and many, many people and community groups. We’ve had to make some difficult choices to get to the point we can present this plan.
"We’ve made the very best use of brownfield sites and we’ve located housing in the best way we can working within the natural limitations across the District. We’ve spoken with and listened to thousands of local people and we produced thousands of pages of detailed, extensive technical research to get to this point in what can only be described as a thorough and exhaustive process.”
Following Cabinet approval, the pre-submission Local Plan document will now go before the full Council at a meeting on 9 October for consideration. Subject to their approval, there will be a six week public consultation which will start on 16 October and run until 27 November. More details about the consultation will follow shortly.
Comments made as part of this consultation will go directly before an independent Planning Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State and will form part of his or her examination of the local plan.
This final stage of local consultation follows four years of discussions with local residents and key stakeholders. This feedback has been used to shape this pre-submission local plan. This next stage of consultation is more formal and follows guidance set out by the planning inspectorate.
Throughout the process of preparing the local plan, planners have set out the tough challenges of meeting housing need within the boundaries of our district which has the dual constraints of three quarters (71 per cent) of the land protected by AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and almost half (48 per cent) in the Green Belt.
As a result they have successfully negotiated with neighbouring Aylesbury Vale District Council to accommodate a shortfall of 2,275 homes which cannot be met within the land available to Wycombe District.
The local plan sets out a target of 10,925 new homes within Wycombe District up to 2033. However, in a recent announcement the government has said it intends to make changes to the way councils should calculate housing needs after March 2018. This could mean the provision to meet projected housing numbers is likely to increase further.
However, the timetable set for Wycombe District’s local plan means that it will be submitted to the planning inspector by the government deadline enabling it to be based on the current methodology of assessing housing need.