Local Plan row simmers on – crunch meeting on 8 April

The next meeting of High Peak Borough council on Tuesday 8 April is  “to agree the latest consultation version of the Local Plan“, according to a press release from the council.

The controversial site C9, off Macclesfield Road, Whaley Bridge, which failed by one vote to be deleted from the plan at the last meeting, has been the centre of a bitter argument. There were 673 objections to C9 from Whaley Bridge, by far the largest number from any area, with two petitions of 527 signatures.

The borough council press release goes on to say:

“The meeting builds on the council meeting held two weeks ago, when it was agreed to include a number of sites in the Local Plan. Councillors are now recommended to accept a series of policies which will form a critical part of the Local Plan. These policies will help to protect areas from, and set standards for, development.

“If approved the Local Plan will then be published and representations about its soundness invited from residents and other interested parties.  Any valid comments received will be reported back to a Council meeting in July before final submission to the Planning Inspectorate.

“The report adds that if further significant changes are considered necessary then another round of consultation may be necessary before the Local Plan can be submitted which would extend the timetable. New guidance or evidence issued prior to submission may also lead to further changes to the Local Plan which could impact on the timetable.

“If councillors  do not agree the submission version of the Local Plan, or if alternative changes are made, there is a very significant risk that the Local Plan will not be found sound or that the council may be advised by the Planning Inspectorate to reconsider the plan before any examination can take place or to withdraw the plan altogether. This would lead to a significant delay to the adoption of the Local Plan.

“Any delay makes High Peak more vulnerable to speculative planning applications”, says the report.

“Councillors are also warned that the most significant risk lies with the proposed housing targets and the proposed housing allocations.  These are already below the objectively assessed need so there is no scope for any further reduction in the housing provision.”

In a letter to local newspapers, Cllr Godfrey Claff,  the council’s executive member for regeneration, writes about the last meeting where the Local Plan was declared ‘unsound’ after a site in New Mills was voted out. He says the High Peak is now at “serious risk of unbridled development”, adding: “It will be up to the Labour councillors  to rescue residents from this abyss – and we will.”

Campaigners in Whaley Bridge, who oppose the inclusion of the site known as C9 in the plan are now finalising their approach to the next meeting.  The campaign group Whaley Bridge Matters faces a battle on two fronts.  Gladman Developments has submitted plans for a 107 homes estate on much the same site.  Watch Whaleybridge.com for updated news.

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