More consultation needed over local plan

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Shropshire Council’s cabinet yesterday signed off its local plan, although another consultation is set to take place with members of the public set to have their say.

Shirehall Shrewsbury - Image Shropshire Council
Shirehall Shrewsbury – Photo: Shropshire Council

The Shropshire Local Plan sets out locations for 30,800 homes which would be built in town and village locations across Shropshire until the year 2038.

Locations include the former Ironbridge power station site, Ternhill Barracks, Ludlow, Oswestry and Bridgnorth. Plans to build a 3,000 homes development near Tong have been scrapped.

The council also agreed to the principle of accepting and incorporating up to 1,500 dwellings from the Association of Black Country Authorities into its overall housing requirement up to 2038 as part of the ‘Duty to Cooperate’.

What happened at the meeting?

Many public questions were asked in the cabinet meeting, which was almost-wholly dedicated to the local plan. Councillor David Turner asked a question about Much Wenlock and, Councillor David Vasmer, about the local plan and climate change.

Bridgnorth, Church Stretton and Much Wenlock all came up in the meeting.

Concerns over the local plan have been voiced in the past, including by campaign groups and on dedicated websites.

In light of the questions, an amendment to the proposed recommendations was proposed, to hold another regulation 18 consultation instead of a regulation 19 consultation, and the amended recommendations were accepted by the cabinet.

What’s the difference between a regulation 18 and 19 consultation?

The Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012 Regulations 18 and 19 set out how two different stages of local plan consultations work.

A regulation 18 consultation involves certain bodies and persons being invited to make representations about what the local plan ought to contain.

A regulation 19 consultation involves local plan documents (the proposed submission documents and a statement of the representations procedure) being available for inspection. Council documents explain that the key purpose of this stage is to allow consultees to make representations on the ‘soundness’ of the local plan.

Council documents also explain that the council’s ability to respond to regulation 19 consultations is more limited than its ability to respond to regulation 18 consultations. They state that, following a regulation 19 consultation, while a council can agree to minor modifications, it cannot make significant changes, like the inclusion of an additional site allocation, without yet another regulation 19 consultation, which could be time-costly.

What happens next?

Councillor Peter Nutting, Shropshire Council Leader, set out a new time scale during the meeting. It was not explicitly voted on, but it gives a good indication of what to expect.

He explained that a new consultation would begin “around the end of September 2020 time”. This would then be followed by a regulation 19 consultation, to begin in November 2020, and, at the beginning of February 2021, a full council meeting would take place on the matter.

Additionally, before the local plan comes into effect, the full council will need to submit it to the UK government and the UK government will need to approve it.

Before today’s meeting, the council set out key dates that explained that UK government submission and examination would take around a year. It also read that the local plan would be adopted in early 2022, but with the new regulation 18 consultation, this will probably now change.

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Rowan Hall
Rowan contributes articles to Shropshire Live. A Law undergraduate who lives in the county. He is currently studying Global Law at Queen Mary University of London and has a particular interest in writing about local government.
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