The Hart Local Plan Inspector has issued ‘interim findings’ regarding the Hart Local Plan which can be found at the following link:
As we expected from our attendance at the Local Plan Examination, the Inspector has recommended that the housing numbers are increased to 423 dwellings per annum. This is partly to deliver more much needed affordable housing, but also to help meet the unmet needs of Surrey Heath district.
There is now forecast to be a small shortfall in housing numbers – this won’t be in the short term but will be at the end of the plan period. The Inspector concludes that there is a ‘very healthy level of supply’ in the short term.
The Inspector also recommends that Policy SS3, which sets out the new settlement proposal (known as the ‘area of search’) at Murrell Green/Winchfield should be removed. It is considered unsound in its current form. The new settlement was really an ‘add-on’ to the Plan, rather than fundamental to its content. The numbers were extra, to provide longer-term flexibility to the proposed provision.
If the Council accept the Inspector’s interim conclusions, they will need to prepare main modifications to the Plan, which will then be consulted on for 6 weeks. In reality, they have little choice but to accept the Inspector’s recommendations and make the suggested changes, or the Plan as a whole is likely to be found unsound by the Planning Inspector. This would mean that the Council would be left without a development plan for some considerable period.
The Inspector has only, at this stage, commented on top-level issues. There is a lot of detail (for example the approach of the rural areas, review of settlement boundaries and countryside policies) that he has not yet concluded on. No indication has been provided of the likely timescale for this further work yet. We will report further on this in due course.
If you would like to discuss any implications of this please contact Senior Principal Planner, Liz Alexander.