Cotswolds local plan to be fast-tracked
A VITAL blueprint for future development in the Cotswolds is being fast-tracked.
Cotswold District Council has pledged to 'speed up' the adoption of new planning policies by two years.
It aims to compress several stages required by law into a single comprehensive local plan.
The main components will be produced and examined once rather than at two or three separate public examinations.
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Community concern was growing that the Cotswolds does not have a local plan, to help protect the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty from over-development.
The local plan will now incorporate work already done to prepare a core strategy - which looks at future levels of house building and economic development - with more detailed development proposals and local planning policies.
The council's planning committee has recently rejected large-scale planning applications on green field sites, such as at Tetbury, only to see them approved on appeal because of the UK's critical need for housing and complex debates about the adequacy of land supplies.
The new local plan will be more effective in supporting its stance and should be completed about two years sooner than if the council had continued down the core strategy route.
Strategic director for planning and communities Andy Fotherby said: "Since the publication of the government's National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in March 2012, there has been a big policy vacuum which has tended to favour any proposals for what is claimed to be sustainable development, even when local authorities and local people have raised major objections.
"For a number of years we've been working on a core strategy. However, recent public examinations of other core strategies have made it clear the NPPF actually allows for the production of a comprehensive local plan without publishing a core strategy first.
"This would be a much quicker – and significantly cheaper - means of regaining control over planning decisions."
The council took advice from the Design Council and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment.
A 'quicker' local plan will also reduce the risk of evidence becoming out-of-date and the need for expensive refreshing.
The plan's stages will be:
May to early July: pubic consultation on district housing requirement and proposed distribution of housing.
October to December: facilitated events to brief parishes on potential site allocations, including a strategic site south of Chesterton.
March to May 2014: public consultation on local plan, including development strategy, site allocations and development management policies
October to November 2014: public consultation on pre-submission version of local plan.
March 2015: submission of local plan for independent examination and approval.