Bolsover Fails Duty to Cooperate on Cross Border Strategic Site – Cooperation must mean more than Consultation

Here Inspectors conclusions

The concerns about the Duty to Co-operate centre on the former Coalite Chemical Works site (roughly 58 hectares) to the north-west of Bolsover which straddles the Council’s boundary and so partly lies in Bolsover (about 30 hectares) and partly in North East Derbyshire (approximately 28 hectares)…

This is a complicated brownfield site with viability and remediation concerns.
The present landowner has suggested that it requires comprehensive redevelopment (across both Districts) with up to 800 houses and nearly 95,000 square metres of commercial floorspace…

So far as the Duty on the Coalite site is concerned, I am not persuaded that the Local Plan Liaison Meetings were anything other than consultative and information sharing gatherings. The extracts of the various meeting notes (EX19f) are all written in that manner, and do not indicate any constructive,
active or on-going work to jointly and proactively plan for the Coalite site

PPG warns that effective co-operation “is unlikely to be met by an exchange of correspondence, conversations or consultations between authorities alone” (ID 9-011-20140306). The 2004 Act, the NPPF, and the PPG
use the term “co-operation” and not “consultation”. If the Duty had been merely to consult then the 2004 Act and subsequent Government policies would have said so. I have to test the outcomes of co-operation and not just whether the Council approached others

It does seem that after the failed attempt in 2010 to prepare an Area Action Plan that the Council focussed too much of its attention on the planning proposals and planning applications coming forward from the Coalite site
landowners, and put to one side, or forgot, the strategic plan-making requirements of the Duty which came into force at the end of 2011…

I have also carefully considered the judgement in Zurich Assurance Limited v Winchester City Council and the South Downs National Park Authority [2014] EWHC 758
(Admin) in EX13f, cited by the Council (particularly the sections it thought especially relevant), and also my colleague’s Report on the examination of the
Chesterfield Local Plan Core Strategy of June 2013 (EX19g). However, their circumstances are not the same as those here and they do not, in my view, form a precedent binding on this Duty issue which concerns a single strategic matter cross boundary site with a particular and unique history and sequence of
events.

 

 

 

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