Northhampton Borough seeks to Block Two Urban Extensions – Even though its Joint Core Strategy was Adopted Last Month

Quite incredible.  You can see why Northampton Borough once had to have its power to determine such applications taken away.

Report here

The West Northamptonshire Joint Core Strategy Part 1 Local Plan was adopted on 15th December 2014. The report seeks to clarify Northampton Borough Council‟s position in relation to its adoption; in particular Policies N5 and N6 and the strategic highways infrastructure which the Council‟s members on the West Northamptonshire Joint Strategic Planning Committee did not feel were adequately addressed in the Core Strategy adoption process.

In terms of representation, the numbers of voting members of the Committee are Northampton Borough 4, South Northamptonshire 3, Daventry 3 and Northamptonshire County Council 2 votes. Decisions are made on a majority basis with the chair (rotated annually between the three district Councils on a rolling basis) having the casting vote. [So Northampton could be outvoted – that was the whole point]

after considering representations made at the Examination Hearings, the Council‟s members had greater concerns than previously identified to officers about the appropriateness of the submitted CoreStrategy‟s allocations in Policy H5 on land south of Northampton (Collingtree) and Policy H6 on land south of Brackmills (Hardingstone). [ah they listed to verbal objections and not the advice from officers from the traffic model I see]
Time constraints caused by the Examination process meant that either the Committee had to propose modifications, or risk the Plan being found unsound by the Inspector. If found unsound the Core Strategy preparation would have had to recommence at the beginning of the statutory processes, leading to significant delay in attaining an adopted Core Strategy. This would have associated risks to the development management process in addition to requiring a further significant resource for completion. Notwithstanding these issues, the Council‟s members felt unable to support the modifications proposed by the Unit to the Joint Committee.

Ultimately overall consensus between the partner Councils was not reached. The decision to publish proposed modifications was approved by the Joint Strategic Planning Committee on the chair‟s casting vote (Daventry), with both Northampton Borough and Northamptonshire County Council voting against issuing the modifications….

The transport model used by the County Council was old and at the outset wasn‟t designed to cover such a long period or the volume of development proposed in the revised Core Strategy. It had a number of „patches‟ added to allow some estimation of impacts to occur for the purposes of strategic plan making. [This is becoming a farce]

[This could] undermine long term delivery by committing to sites which ultimately might require such expensive infrastructure post 2029 that development would become unviable. {utterl;y ridiculous to base a decision on NPV 15 years ahead, the sensitivity to simple assumptions on cost, interest rates etc. are huge over this period – total silly red herring].

To overcome this uncertainty associated with the traffic modelling, for additional housing in the period 2026-2029 the Council considered it more appropriate for the forthcoming Part 2 Northampton Related Development Area Local Plan to allocate the necessary sites. This would allow the partner Councils, developers and local communities more time to appraise the options using more robust evidence and come to a consensus on the most appropriate sites to allocate. [rotfl]

The Council was unable to make further comment on the policies N5 and N6 as there were no substantive changes to the original wording of these policies. As such any comment would have not been considered to be „duly made‟ and given limited weight by the Inspector in his deliberations. Nevertheless, the Inspector was aware of a letter provided by the Leader requesting that he gave weight to the concerns of local residents in relation to the Urban Extensions. [you cant duly make an objection in the middle of an examination].

Then it gets worse, option on do nothing or JR your own plan. (legal advice said it would be taken to cleaners)

As the Council delegated its Executive function of Development Plan adoption to the West Northamptonshire Joint Strategic Planning Committee and had representation on the Committee, Counsel considers based on case law it unlikely it will be able to meet the test of being “a person aggrieved”. Counsel‟s opinion is that this is not really an option open to the Council.

And ‘drum roll’ the recommended option is to

Council resolution confirming objection to policies N5 and N6 of the Joint Core Strategy and the inadequacy of the transport model for identifying the scope of strategic highways infrastructure including a North West by-pass in association with development.

(this) would constitute a material planning consideration in the determination of planning applications, provided it is founded on matters that relate to the use and development of land

The objection is a material consideration that the decision maker may take into account if relevant to a particular application; however Council should be mindful that in relation to S38(6) that as it is newly adopted, the Plan is the starting point for the determining of applications and will have substantial weight. In addition, the resolution should not be seen as binding on members of the Council who sit on Planning Committee, prejudicing the decision maker‟s (including Planning Committee‟s) ability to weigh up all the facts when determining an application. The resolution is not in any way planning policy itself.

Of course iots planning policy.  The act clearly says all planning policy has to be in the development plan.  The planning policy for Northampton is the JCS.

The Council‟s Joint Strategic Planning Committee‟s members considered that the transport, impact on setting of the existing settlements, increased flooding risk and social infrastructure implications of the policy N5 and N6 allocations are so significant that these sites should not be allocated in the Core Strategy.

And the other JCS members disagreed as did comprehensively the inspector at teh JCS EIP.  So here we have the truth of it.  Northampton wanted to allocate land to iots neighbours were defeated and now want to use a pretext of traffic impact as an excuse to refuse plnning applications.

Let hope that when the inevitable appeals are heard the developers make partial award of costs.grounds on treating this matter as an ‘other material consideration’.  This is just a cover for the dodgy decision on the South of Brackmills planning application and shows how Northampton BC could not be trusted with taking over from the WNDC.

 

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