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New local plan: examination

Planning inspector's report on the Wycombe District Local Plan

We have now received the Planning Inspector’s report on the Wycombe District Local Plan. You can view this document by clicking the link below.

The Wycombe District Local Plan was submitted for examination in March 2018. Nicola Gulley MRTPI was appointed as the independent Local Plan Inspector. Hearings were held in July and September 2018.

The Inspector’s report concludes that the Wycombe District Local Plan provides an appropriate basis for the planning of the Wycombe area, subject to a number of changes known as ‘Main Modifications’. 

These Main Modifications include:

  • An overall increase in housing land supply from 10,927 new dwellings to between 11,659 and 11,899 dwellings;
  • An amendment to Policy CP5 (delivering land for business) to allow for the delivery of a range of Class B uses and sui generis employment related uses on all employment allocations;
  • The inclusion in Policy CP6 (securing vibrant and high quality town centres) of the requirements for new retail floorspace;
  • An increase in the indicative number of dwellings at: Policy HW5 - Abbey Barn South and Wycombe Summit from 505 to 550 dwellings; Policy HW6 – Gomm Valley and Ashwells from 530 to between 520 and 720 dwellings; and at Policy HW7 - Terriers Farm and Terriers House from 500 to between 500 and 540 dwellings;
  • Deletion of Policy HW15 - Land to the rear off Hughenden Road, High Wycombe;
  • The amendment of Policy DM24 (affordable housing) to require the provision of affordable housing on the basis of units; and
  • Modifications to the wording of development management policies for consistency with national guidance, positive preparation and to reflect updated evidence.

The Council's Cabinet and Full Council will consider the Inspector's Report and adoption of the Plan at special meetings on 19 August 2019 (Cabinet at 5pm, Council at 6.30pm).

Proposed main modifications to the Wycombe District Local Plan

Following the Local Plan examination hearings in summer 2018, the Local Plan inspector identified various changes that need to be made to the Local Plan (known as “Proposed Main Modifications”) to make the Wycombe District Local Plan a “sound” plan. These were published for public consultation between Wednesday 13 February 2019 and Wednesday 27 March 2019.  

Following the close of the consultation all representations received have been passed to the independent Local Plan Inspector for her consideration. 

The Council has produced a summary of the main issues raised by the representations and a response to those main issues. These are set out in the main issues and responses report. 

The inspector will now consider all of the representations made on the Proposed Main Modifications before deciding how she wishes to proceed with the Examination. Should the Inspector decide that no additional Hearing Sessions are necessary we understand we will receive her report early in the summer. 

Local Plan examination - next steps

The final scheduled hearing session for the Local Plan examination took place on 26 September 2018. At the end of the session the Inspector set out the way forward for the examination.

The examination is not over until the Inspector has submitted her report to the Council, but no indication was given that there would be any further hearings, although she could still choose to schedule some.

The Inspector is not producing an “interim report” but has posed further questions to the Council. 

Our responses to the examiner's follow-up questions have now been published:

  • Follow-up question 1: Sustainability Appraisal - this will be published alongside the main modifications consultation, and will be consulted on as a part of the consultation.
  • Follow-up question 2: Strategic context [PDF | 132KB]
  • Follow-up question 3: Household projections [PDF | 197KB]
  • Follow-up question 4: Student housing [PDF | 125KB]
  • Follow-up question 5: Delivering land for business [PDF | 101KB]

The inspector has provided her response to our submissions in respect of the follow-up questions.

On 5 February 2019 the Inspector published a letter relating to the Proposed Main Modifications of the Wycombe District Local Plan. This letter includes detail on a public consultation on the Proposed Main Modifications, including identifying which documents will be subject to public consultation, how the consultation should be conducted and the process for handling all comments (representations) received as a part of the public consultation.

New Wycombe District Local Plan submission

We submitted the new Wycombe District Local Plan on 28 March 2018 to the Secretary of State for examination in public. This follows on from the consultation on the regulation 19 publication version local plan in October and November 2017, and the various previous stages of the local plan's development.

The planning inspector

The Secretary of State has appointed independent planning inspector Nicola Gulley MA MRTPI to conduct an independent examination into the soundness and legal compliance of the Wycombe District Local Plan.

The consideration of the soundness of the local plan will be considered based on the criteria set out in paragraph 182 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). These criteria are whether the plan is:

  1. Positively prepared - assessing if the plan is based on a strategy that seeks to meet our objectively assessed development and infrastructure requirements, including unmet requirements from neighbouring authorities where it is reasonable to do so, and consistent with achieving sustainable development;
  2. Justified - assessing if the plan presents the most appropriate strategy when considered against the reasonable alternatives, based on proportionate evidence;
  3. Effective - the plan should be deliverable over its period (2013-2033) and based on effective joint working on cross-boundary strategic priorities; and
  4. Consistent with national policy - the plan should enable the delivery of sustainable development in accordance with the policies in the Framework

The planning inspector will take into account the representations submitted as a part of the consultation on the Wycombe District Local Plan (regulation 19) publication version as far as they relate to soundness considerations.

The planning inspector has arranged a number of hearing sessions on principal matters. These will take the form of informal debates, and will be based on the matters, issues and questions identified by the planning inspector.

At the end of the examination process, the Inspector will submit her report, which may include modifications to the Plan should we request her to suggest modifications in order to overcome any soundness concerns. 

The planning inspector has prepared guidance notes to help explain the local plan examination process.

Any queries regarding the examination process should be directed to the Programme Officer, who will be happy to assist.

The programme officer

The Programme Officer will act as the contact for any person who has an interest in the examination. He will act as a liaison between the Inspector, Wycombe District Council, and representors. He is an independent officer of the examination and works on the behalf of the planning inspector to organise and manage the administrative and procedural elements of the examination process. All statements will also be submitted through the Programme Officer.

Any matters that anyone wishes to raise with the inspector should be submitted through the Programme Officer.

Hearing sessions

The examination hearings commenced at 1.30pm on Monday 16 July 2018 in the Council Chamber at the Council offices, Queen Victoria Road, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, HP11 1BB, and adjourned on Thursday 26 July 2018. Further hearing sessions were held between Tuesday 4 September 2018 and Thursday 6 September 2018. A session was held on Wednesday 26 September 2018 to hear outstanding matters relating to Matter 8 (Princes Risborough development framework) and Matter 9 (Rural Areas development framework).

A programme for the examination hearing sessions was produced, which set out when the examination took place. The inspector issued her matters, issues and questions which were discussed at the hearings sessions.

A version 3 of the Matters, Issues and Questions has been published. This includes a list of persons participating in the hearings. NB - version 2 of this document corrected an error in the previous version where the incorrect site was named against site reference HW21 in question 7.1(q)

Agendas for the hearing sessions have now been published. These follow the timetable previously issued by the inspector.

Written statements

The following statements have been received in response to the inspector's matters, issues and questions.

Examination documents

The following documents were produced during the course of the examination of the Wycombe District Local Plan.

EXAM2 Local Plan examination action points and responses - Week 1

EXAM3 Local Plan examination action points and responses - Week 2

EXAM4 Outstanding action points position note (31 August 2018)

EXAM5 Local Plan examination action points and responses - Week 3

EXAM6 Inspector's follow-up questions

EXAM7 Tree preservation order, Picts Lane, Princes Risborough

EXAM8 Inspector's letter 5 February 2019

Statements of common ground

The following statements of common ground were prepared during the examination of the Wycombe District Local Plan.

Evidence base documents

As a part of the process of preparing the Wycombe District Local Plan, a number of documents were referred to and informed the development of the local plan. These collectively form the evidence base for the examination.