Slough extends Call for Sites for new Local Plan by two weeks
Slough Borough Council has today announced a SECOND delay to its attempts to develop a new Local Plan. But it follows updated guidance from the Government yesterday which raises the prospect of intervention if significant progress is not made by next year.
Slough Borough Council’s attempt to rewrite its Local Plan has seen its second delay in two months. The deadline for the Call for Sites, set to conclude today, has been extended by 2 weeks until 4th March.
The Council has not given any reason for the delay but it had earlier flagged a shortage of development land and the assumption will be that there has been an inadequate response so far.
Last month the Council said it was delaying the timetable for the new Plan to prevent objectors to a proposed third runway using it to “rehearse their arguments”.
The continuing delay is pushing Slough ever closer to the prospect of the Government intervening. Last July, the government announced that, where no local plan has been produced by early 2017, it will “intervene to arrange for the plan to be written, in consultation with local people, to accelerate production”.
Yesterday, coincidentally, the Government published a consultation document to clarify the scope of that intervention, insisting it will prioritise Councils where inadequate progress has been made on new Local Plans by 2017 and there is “under delivery of housing in areas of high housing pressure”. That is a full three years earlier than the Council is currently targeting.
Last month Slough put said it did not expect to finalise a Local Plan until 2020 at the earliest:
‘The current assumption is that if the Government were to give the go ahead for a third runway in the summer of 2016 planning permission would not be granted until 2019. This would mean that we would not be able to hold the Local Plan Inquiry until 2020.”
And at its January Planning Committee meeting councillors noted a report that said Slough would ignore the findings of October’s Berkshire Strategic Housing Market Assessment until the new Local Plan is ratified. The assessment identified a need for 927 new homes per year in Slough up to 2036 but Slough will target only 550.
“The NPPF requires Councils have sufficient housing commitments to deliver five year’s worth of supply. Not having this makes the Council at risk from Planning by Appeal. In the short term it was agreed that we should respond to the need for more houses by formally adopting the target of 550 new dwellings per annum in the Council’s Five Year Plan”.