The recently published consultation on the Strategy for Central Beds shows a distinct lack of cooperation for positive planning.
Central Beds of course had previously prepared a joint plan through a joint planning committee with Luton. but the inspector detected a shortfall in housing and this threw into the frame the previously rejected West of Luton option. So did both LPAs revise the plan, so Central Beds cllrs refused to the joint committee was deadlocked and they voted to abolish it instead. Does this unmet need from the adjoining authority figure in the newly separated segregationist strategy – see the blue question mark above no. They solely and only consider ‘local’ need quite contrary to the NPPF requirement to consider the potential to meet unmet need from the adjoining authority. The SEA does not even consider the overflow need making it unlawful on a second ground.
Bot it does not end there. The second question mark is SE of Milton Keynes. This is more complicated because it was in the SE Plan but the spill over the border is in the old Eastern Region and the EEP amendment was never finalised. The old Mid Beds Core strategy examiner had felt there would be conformity issues until this was confirmed and so took it out until it was. The issue then is whether it can meet ‘objectively assessed need’ from another authority. Rather comically the SEA says –
The land southeast of Milton Keynes would largely be addressing housing needs arising in Milton Keynes rather than Central Bedfordshire.The Milton Keynes Core Strategy does not propose any development on the Milton Keynes side of the boundary and it is therefore considered inappropriate to provide for development within Central Bedfordshire.
Isn’t an SEA supposed to be an objective assessment of impact not statements of prior policy considerations? The only reason Milton Keynes is no longer proposing such housing (in 2010 both districts signed a memorandum for 2,000 houses to be provided on the Central Beds side of the border) is that staggeringly it now proposes to meet ‘local’ need only despite it having the best growth potential in the South East. Are we not supposed to be planning for growth? Is not growth along the varsity line the strategy approved by an independent panel following years of argument? Where will this displaced housing go, to dozens of little villages in Aylesbury Vale District or North Herts – another district that pretends it can shove its head in a hole and present its ass as evidence of cooperation?
Remember the POLICY side of the duty to cooperate is ‘Positively prepared’ adjoining authorities can fake the DTC by cooperating on equally negative plans as here – will they be found sound – not a hope in hell. The Milton Keynes examination opens in a few weeks and one expects that following its early findings Central Beds will be forced to do this consultation again with much less of the attitude of a pisstake of the DTC and Soundness tests.
Indeed what is sad about this is it is deliberately foot dragging tactic to put off the inevitable, positive plans prepared across travel to work areas realistically meeting growth requirements in the parts of the country most able to meet it.
I havent mentioned the Marston Vale here as I dont know enough about the history of it however im sure someone will fill in the details in comments.