Controversial housing blueprint looks set to be scrapped after years of delays and hundreds of thousands of pounds spent.
The joint local plan between Newcastle Borough Council and Stoke-on-Trent City Council could have seen around 33,000 homes built across the two areas.ADVERTISING
It included some highly contentious sites, such as the former Keele golf course, where more than 1,000 homes were earmarked on Green Belt land.
A consultation exercise, beset by delays, was finally set to go ahead in autumn, after being delayed again by the coronavirus crisis.
But now the borough council has announced it it ‘taking a step back to review’ it, citing economic fears of Brexit and the fallout from the pandemic.
Its cabinet met last week and hammered the final nail into the beleaguered plan.
Instead, Newcastle planners will begin a ‘standalone borough plan’, for which a cost of £635,000 has been earmarked. The costs include staffing, external commissioning and examinations, and could go higher.
More delays are also predicted for the timescale of the new standalone plan.
The cabinet report states: “Work has now been ongoing for a period of approximately seven years to produce a plan, with a range of council employees, agency and specialist commissions deployed on various aspects of the plan preparation to date.
“To cease the preparation of a Joint Plan at this stage will mean that that funds will have been deployed on a project which is not progressed to fruition.
“Newcastle-under-Lyme’s expenditure to date on the preparation of the joint local plan is estimated to be circa £316,000, plus staff time. A further £90,000 in external commissions would be required to progress to adoption.”
Council leader Simon Tagg said: “I feel at this stage, as the report says, it is the time to pause and ask for some advice and to consult with those people and bring something back in January, so if we do decide to do our own borough plan, we can get on with it.
“The borough then will be the centre of the thinking for our local plan, instead of being attached to a large city which has got different ambitions and different growth targets than a borough.
“I’ll just say, Staffordshire Moorlands, which is the other side of the conurbation from us and the rural area out towards the peaks there, has its own local plan, and has had one in place for a few months now.
“They cracked on and got their local plan on their own and I don’t see why us as a borough can’t get on and do that.”
Cabinet member for planning and growth, Paul Northcott, said: “It’s important that we take a step back now, while we have the chance to look at this.
Of course the real reason – hinted at above is the 25% uplift applied to only Stoke as a Labour Authority. Of course Newcastle will be bound to fail the DTC if it doesnt take its fair share.
Lets hope its reassesses as well. Kelle Golf course is quite the worst major housing site I have seen of very many I have walked. Its 25 degrees in large parts, heavily wooded and forms a clear green belt function on the edge of the green bowl that separates it from Keele. The only reason it was persued was because it was council owned. There are far far better sites.