New submission date for Teignbridge Local Plan
Teignbridge District Council is to reschedule the submission of its emerging Local Plan in order to carry out further work so it meets Government and Planning Inspectorate guidance.
The decision to defer submission to the Inspectorate comes so more detailed work can be completed to make sure the 20-year planning vision meets guidance and passes the test of soundness.
The Council says while the decision is disappointing, it wants to make sure it has got the best plan possible for the district, its residents and future generations.
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The Local Plan outlines how jobs, facilities, homes, green spaces and more will be provided across the district to meet local needs over the course of the next 20 years.
At its core is a vision to provide a future where there is a job for every working age person in Teignbridge, people can afford to buy and build their own homes, the economy continues to thrive and flourish, and there are greater protections for the natural environment.
The Plan needs to go before an Independent Planning Inspector for a public examination before it can be declared 'sound' and fit for adoption. Before this happens, the council needs to make sure it complies with Government guidance and planning obligations.
This process has been complicated by changes to the original advice given relating to the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), the need to carry out further work on a Habitat Regulations Assessment and Teignbridge is also awaiting further analysis by Torbay Council on its own housing needs.
The CIL is a new levy that local authorities can choose to charge on new developments in their area. The money can be used to support development by funding infrastructure that the council, local community and neighbourhoods want. Before charges can be imposed, the CIL proposals also have to be considered by an independent inspector.
In October last year the Government's Planning Inspectorate told Teignbridge it could submit the Local Plan first and then follow it up with proposals for CIL.
This has changed and the Government now advises that they require CIL and the Local Plan to be submitted together.
Teignbridge still has some work to do on CIL and it is preferable to submit the two together. This issue is considered to be crucial in making sure the plan passes the test of soundness.
Secondly the council is also carrying out more work on its Habitat Regulations Assessment – a legal requirement for submission – to satisfy further comments from Natural England.
Lastly, Teignbridge is waiting for Torbay Council to complete some more analysis on its own Draft Local Plan. Under the Localism Act, there is a legal and procedural requirement for neighbouring authorities to demonstrate a 'duty to cooperate' when preparing their own local plans.
The duty to cooperate is a significant issue for local plans being examined at present and it has to be exercised before submission because errors or omissions cannot be rectified later on.
Torbay is currently working on its own additional evidence before discussions with Teignbridge can continue. It is hoped this can be resolved by the end of May.
If authorities can't show they have fulfilled their obligations under the duty to cooperate, it can put their plans at risk.
It is important Teignbridge has an adopted Local Plan as quickly as possible and, crucially, it submits a document that can be found sound, either with or without modification.
All of these issues mean rescheduling the Teignbridge Local Plan for submission in June with a public examination in October. If the plan is found 'sound', the Local Plan and CIL charging schedule should be adopted early in 2014.
Teignbridge District Council's Executive Spokesperson for Housing and Planning, Cllr Philip Vogel said:
"It is crucial for Teignbridge to have an approved plan to guide our decisions over the next 20 years and the route to achieving this becomes ever more complex.
"This is disappointing but we have to operate within guidance which is constantly evolving and it is imperative that we do not submit a plan which could be found unsound. We are not alone and many other local planning authorities are experiencing similar problems.
"It is vitally important that we don't miss the opportunity of introducing CIL. It will provide the funding for the much needed infrastructure to support the development proposed within the Local Plan, some of which will be available for local communities.
"We are determined that, when we come to present our case before an independent inspector, we will have done everything possible to ensure that we have left no room for a challenge of our procedure. It may take us a bit longer to get there but we are still on the right track."
All councillors have been informed of the situation. The matter will go before Teignbridge Council's Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on April 3 in Forde House, Newton Abbot.