Slough Council on collision course with ALL its neighbours on accommodating town’s expansion
Slough Borough Council has outlined its intention to mount challenges against ALL the Local Plans being progressed by neighbouring authorities in a bid to force them to observe their legally required Duty To Co-operate … and accommodate Slough’s unmet housing need.
Slough Borough Council says it is continuing to make progress on its new Local Plan and is on track for its next public consultation by the end of the year. However, beyond that, the Third Runway decision and a disagreement with South Bucks Council on accommodating a northern expansion of the town could derail further progress in 2017.
In addition, officers at the Planning Department have outlined their desire to mount a challenge against the Local Plans being drawn up by Windsor & Maidenhead, Chiltern & South Bucks plan who are working together, Wycombe and the Vale of Aylesbury!
The Royal Borough is currently proposing to agree the “submission” version of its Local Plan on 10th August, dropping a commitment in January to issue a further draft responding to issues raised. Once published, a submission version cannot be changed prior to the public inquiry.
Despite a promised further round of consultation in the Spring comments and concerns raised by the neighbouring authorities appear to have been ignored. Slough says it has “a number of significant outstanding issues” with Windsor’s plan and may make formal representations in due course. Top of the list of concerns is a lack of engagement with adjoining authorities in developing key strategies in the plan.
A report to Planning Committee members said:
“At recent meetings all of the surrounding local authorities have expressed concern that the Council has failed to comply with the Duty [to Cooperate]. If this is the case it will have serious consequences because it would mean that the Plan would be found to be unsound and could not proceed through the public inquiry process.”
The Duty to Cooperate is set out in Section 110 of the Localism Act. Amongst other things it requires Councils to “engage constructively, actively and on an ongoing basis” in developing strategic policies. It is intended to be an iterative process that is applied throughout the plan preparation process from the evidence gathering stage through to the development of the final strategy.
Looking north, another challenge is likely to be made to the Plan produced by Aylesbury Vale District Council as a result of its new relationship with South Bucks apparently intended to avoid it having to work with Slough.
It had previously been agreed that South Bucks was in the same Housing market Area as Slough and Windsor & Maidenhead. But South Bucks has decided to prepare a joint plan with Chiltern District Council and has opted to be considered as part of the Buckinghamshire Housing Market Area instead. In theory, South Bucks can now look northwards to meet any shortfall in housing in the District even though, while ignoring its previous obligations as part of the Berkshire, in practice, there has been no change to the “functional geography” of the area.
|Slough||12.56 sq mi||144,575|
|South Bucks||54.55 sq mi||68,512|
|Chiltern||75.81 sq mi||93,972|
|Windsor & Maidenhead||76.61 sq mi||147,400|
|Wycombe||125.32 sq mi||174,878|
|Aylesbury Vale||348.55 sq mi||184,560|
Aylesbury is already planning on building 21,300 new homes for its own needs plus an additional 12,000 houses to meet the unmet demand from Wycombe, Chiltern and South Bucks Councils – all very much constrained by Green Belt. Aylesbury would be re-designated as a “Garden Town” and would compete head to head with Slough’s own proposal for a northern extension of the Slough in the form of a new “garden suburb”.
Slough’s planning officers have set out the terms of challenges against Windsor and Aylesbury Local Plans in a report to the Planning Committee.
Windsor & Maidenhead
Slough may challenge the draft Windsor & Maidenhead Plan on the basis of:
Slough may challenge the Aylesbury Vale Plan – and indirectly the plans of Chiltern, South Bucks and Wycombe – on the basis that:
All local authorities are currently required to have a new Local Plan by 2017 or risk the Government putting one in place. Most authorities locally are on track but any challenge could delay the process. Slough is hoping for a reprieve until 2020 on the basis of the uncertainty caused by the Heathrow decision.
With most of the open land in Slough designated Green Belt, and in Colnbrook, the consequences for the village if the Council is unsuccessful in persuading its neighbours to back its plans, could be immense. In spite of the town’s stated preference for a northern expansion, speculators recently submitted plans to develop over 410 acres of Colnbrook Green Belt in the recent Call for Sites.
Members of the Planning Committee, including Colnbrook’s Cllr Dexter Smith, will be asked to confirm the recommendation of Planning officers at the next meeting this coming Wednesday.