Would or Could South Oxfordshire ignore an Inspectors Decision if CS found unsound? #NPPF

Thought about this in the light of the curious statement below in the Oxford Mail.  Oxfordshire is complex as part of the South East Plan was struck out, however the inability of Oxford to meet its own needs within its boundaries is unqestioned and the successful legal challenge to part of the SE Plan was the a strategic Green Belt review was needed to meet Oxford’s requirements.  So has one been carried out – no – so given the new soundness tests in the NPPF how can the South Oxfordshire Core Strategy, which ignores the evidence of those needs, which exist whatever the status of the SE Plan policy on the Oxford Green Belt, be found sound in a month of sundays under the new ‘outcome’ duty to cooperate soundness tests (as opposed to the process legal test) including those from outside the LPA, in a month of Sundays.  This is Oxford’s carefully argued and correct stance, whatever you think about redefining Oxford’s Green Belt.  Of course there is the option of one of more Garden Cities in Oxfordshire etc.  as an alternative in the NPPF, have they been assessed and considered eeeer no.

A planning inspector is currently examining SODC’s core strategy, a document that will shape future planning decisions.

The city council and Magdalen College say SODC must take full account of Oxford’s housing needs as a neighbouring authority.

They point to the Government’s new planning framework, which places an obligations on neighbouring councils to work together.

City Council spokesman Louisa Dean said: “The argument put to the inspector by Magdalen College and ourselves is that SODC has chosen to ignore the housing needs of the city.

“These needs have been well documented yet are greater than can be accommodated within the city’s administrative area.”

Magdalen College bursar Charles Young added: “This is a crucial issue for Oxford. Grenoble Road happens to be just one element in the story of Oxford housing.”

The bursar said he remained confident that the site would eventually be developed.

He added: “It remains, in the city council’s view too, the best medium-term solution, allowing people to live close to where they work.

“The infrastructure is already there, down to the bus routes.

“As far as I am aware there is no alternative site of similar size around the city.”

But Michael Tyce, of the Oxfordshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “We thought we had laid this to rest many times but it keeps coming back.”

SODC spokesman Martin Crabtree said the inspector’s examination would not make any difference to the district council’s opposition to housing on the site.

He said: “The council successfully fought the proposals in the South East Plan to build 4,000 homes on Green Belt land in South Oxfordshire a few years ago.

“There is nothing to suggest that the inspector will seek to, or be able to, overturn this by including the proposals in our core strategy.”

So if the inspector said this is unsound, or would be unsound unless, could SODC ignore the inspector under the new rules.

They could not be forced to make changes they don’t want, but that may result in an unsoundness finding.  Could SODC ignore that?  Well it would have no power to adopt even in the new system without a plan being found sound, if it was not however there is no power to force an LPA to withdraw a plan, it simply would have no weight under the NPPF implementation chapter.

If an LPA then refused to cooperate with its neighbours on joint approaches it would be very vulnerable at appeal.  If an appeal were made after a failed such an attempt at a DTC approach then it would be very vulnerable to a ‘very special circumstances’ outcome on a planning appeal as the LPA with the unsound plan would not have any evidence or up to date development plan was in place to ensure that the inner boundary of the Green Belt was defined to last ‘in perpetuity’ as required in national policy.  Even if the case were called in and the SoS refused it they would be at risk of a successful legal challenge as the SoS would be defying their own NPPF policy on meeting needs and the Green Belt.

So SODC – pure spin.

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