Independent Inspector signs off Wycombe District Local Plan
The Government appointed independent Inspector has signed off the Local Plan for Wycombe District as being ‘sound’ subject to the Council accepting some relatively minor modifications.
The Local Plan is a key strategic document, required by law, which sets out the roadmap for sustainable development of the District up to 2033. It sets out a housing target for the District, allocates new sites for housing and economic development and also identifies areas which will be protected from development.
The Inspector, Mrs Nicola Gulley, conducted a public examination into the proposed Local Plan which included a series of public hearings in July and September last year. Members of the public and key stakeholders were invited to participate and present their evidence to her in person. She is satisfied that all the key content of the Local Plan which Wycombe District Council put forward is ‘sound’.
The Local Plan is the result of more than five years’ work, including detailed technical research and extensive consultation and involvement with local residents across Wycombe District. During the process the planning team received well over 5,000 comments and has had face to face community meetings and events involving many hundreds of people right across the District.
All of the main proposals that the Council submitted for examination in the Local Plan remain unchanged, including:
- a housing target for Wycombe District of 10,925 homes over the period 2013 to 2033
- the major expansion of Princes Risborough
- a number of sites allocated for housing or employment development, including some limited release of land from the Green Belt
Mrs Gulley has not recommended that any new sites are allocated in the Plan. She has recommended a number of modifications to the Plan that the Council will need to accept in order to formally adopt the Local Plan. Wycombe Cabinet Member for Planning, Cllr David Johncock, says:
"The new Local Plan has been a very long time in the making I would like to thank all the key stakeholders and local people who have responded to the consultations and who made representations at the public hearings. They perhaps don’t think so, but their contributions have helped to shape the final draft. That so few major changes have been proposed also demonstrates the professional manner in which our planning officers have undertaken this work.
"The next stage of the process is to have the Plan formally adopted by the Council and this is planned for 19 August. Assuming that the Council does indeed adopt the Plan, it will mean that we all have a clear vision and a way forward to help us manage and deliver sustainable development in Wycombe District. It will mean that we can manage what is built where instead of being subjected to speculative developments which rarely puts housing where it is most appropriate and certainly contributes little to the infrastructure needs.
"I am conscious that preparing our new Local Plan has involved making some difficult decisions about where development goes which will directly affect many local communities. However, I strongly believe that we found a fair and objective compromise which has certainly stood up to detailed scrutiny. I am personally committed to ensuring that new development in our District is not only of a high quality and but also delivers the necessary infrastructure – that is what our Local Plan seeks to do and that’s what we now need to deliver."
Once adopted, the Plan will provide the framework which will guide day to day planning decisions about where and how development should take place in Wycombe District going forward. The Plan will automatically be carried forward into the new Buckinghamshire Council when it is formed in April 2020.