Failure to consult leads to 'unsound' Coventry Core Strategy being rejected
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Development
coventry city council
The Coventry Core Strategy has been declared unsound and has been rejected by planning inspectors as a consequence of the city council's failure to consult and co-operate with neighbouring authorities when preparing its Local Plan.
Coventry City Council's draft Local Plan allocated just over 11,000 new homes compared against the old West Midlands Regional Strategy of 30,000.
The draft plan drew criticism from neighbouring local authorities and, amongst others, the Home Builders Federation.
Colette McCormack, planning partner in law firm Winckworth Sherwood's Manchester office, said: "This decision to reject Coventry City Council's draft plan highlights the legal requirement for a local authority to consult with neighbouring authorities when preparing a Local Plan. If they do not or are unable to show evidence of consultation they can expect inspectors to reject their draft plan."
The issue of consultation was also raised when Salford City Council withdrew its Local Plan in November last year.
Ms McCormack continued: "Salford City Council withdrew its Local Plan for a number of reasons and, whilst the legal requirement to consult only came into effect from November 2011, the Inspector at the Salford Local Plan inquiry wanted to know whether there had been any consultation on housing number with adjoining authorities.
"Local authorities should not only consult, but be able to demonstrate consultation by, for example, including the minutes of meetings and other supporting documents. They need to be able to demonstrate that they have complied with this legal duty, which means more than just talking to an adjoining authority but showing how the adjoining authority’s issues have been addressed in the Local Plan evidence. If they do not they face having their draft Local Plans thrown out.
"Coventry City Council and Salford City Council will now need to reconsider their strategies and resubmit a draft plan for examination clearly demonstrating how they have consulted on issues such as housing numbers and employment land with adjoining authorities."
In a statement, the council said: "Coventry City Council has been informed today that it must carry our further work before its Core Strategy can proceed through the examination process.
"The strategy which plans for growth in the city between now and 2028 was being considered by the independent planning inspectorate.
"The Inspector, assigned to Coventry, carefully considered all representations, and concluded that the Council’s plan is not legally compliant at this time. In his opinion the Council has not co-operated fully with surrounding areas including Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council and Birmingham City Council in respect of evidence for its housing numbers.
"The inspector has instructed the Council to undertake this work which will involve a joint study of housing need and demand for the next 20 years.
"Once this work is done, Coventry’s Core Strategy along with the results of the new study will go back before the inspector for his final ruling. If the strategy is approved it will then guide where housing development takes place in the city."