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Emerging Local Plan ‘Bears No Weight At All’… Yet

Cllr Paul Spooner

A question from Council Leader Paul Spooner at last week’s (November 29, 2017) planning committee meeting revealed that very limited, if any, weight can be attached to the emerging Guildford Local Plan, yet.

During the determination of a proposal for 11A Clifford Manor Road, Cllr Spooner, who has been the lead member for planning longer than he has been leader, questioned the officers report, which stated: “Given the early stage in the Local Plan process, it carries very limited material weight at this time.”

In the debate, Cllr Spooner asked: “I was somewhat surprised to hear that whilst we have voted for submission of the Local Plan that it still bears no weight at all. Could I ask for some clarification as to when the Local Plan will bear some weight?”

Monitoring Officer Sarah White

The deputy monitoring officer, Sarah White, responded explaining that the emerging plan: “…gains weight as it goes through the process… with the view that it will be submitted (to the Secretary of State) in December… As it’s tested through the Examination in Public it gains more weight through the process, so we are at the early stage…”

The draft Local Plan was approved for submission by the full council on November 21 but until it is further down the process line of examination and approval it will be of limited value in determining current planning applications for which the council will still have to depend on the 2003 plan and the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

Following the changes brought about to the planning system via the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, many local planning authorities struggled to come to terms with the new regime, resulting in emerging plans that were either found unsound or which had to be withdrawn before completion of the Examination in Public. As a result, giving weight in decision-making to untested “emerging policies” was largely dropped as a practice some years ago.

Cllr Spooner was appointed be lead member for planning under the previous council leader Stephen Mansbridge and retained that portfolio when becoming leader in November 2015.

The planning committee webcast can be viewed here:

https://guildford.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/318135

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One Response to Emerging Local Plan ‘Bears No Weight At All’… Yet

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    December 5, 2017 at 10:01 am

    The simplest way for the Executive to understand is to do the actual research themselves and then the legislation – like the rest of us have to do who don’t have the resources provided by the officers.

    Could save an immense time and provide financial savings when putting forward unsound policies.

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