No doubt you may have heard that Tandridge District Council has received a letter from the Local Plan Inspector. It makes interesting reading in the context of the Government reappraisal of the algorithm to calculate local housing targets and also the impending debate on the Planning For The Future White Paper in the New Year, which intends to overhaul the local planning process anyway-hopefully promoting Neighbourhood Plans to an influential role as gatekeepers on matters such as neighbourhood character and design guidelines.
The key points of the Inspector’s letter are as follows:
- As the money to improve Junction 6 of the M25 is not currently available – he finds TDCs plan to add traffic by creating a garden village undeliverable by reason of lack of infrastructure, at this stage.
- He does not agree with TDC’s Housing Plan targets and proposes a higher annual figure of between 450 and 495 as against TDC’s proposals of 332 in 2016 and 266 in 2018-TDC basing their latest figure on a reduction in housing formation rates locally.
- He doubts sites in the Town Centres are not developable or deliverable and similarly, he says the North Tandridge One Public Estate (mainly focussed on Caterham) is not deliverable.
- Category One (Caterham, Oxted and Warlingham) settlements are therefore limited in their capacity to deliver housing.
- He states It is difficult to comment on how far the Green Belt can be infringed on due to the uncertainties over the correct OAN and that the extent of the Green Belt in TDC which restricts the ability to develop and build anyway.
- He is concerned about the lack of site allocations for gypsies and travellers in Tandridge.
- He makes specific comments about either information he needs or, about the potential of sites listed as allocations in the Plan-including Salmons Lane West, which he says may diminish supply though the Plan.
He therefore concludes “the Plan has a number of significant soundness issues which do not appear capable of being readily fixed and the point has been reached where a decision as to how the Plan should be progressed needs to be made.” He gives two options:
- Pause the Plan and attempt to resolve the outstanding issues including provision of strategic infrastructure, the OAN, housing requirement and supply- including the Garden community, provision for gypsies and travellers, to an agreed time scale along with changes made to the plan as necessary arising though addressing the inspector’s soundness comments
- Withdraw the Plan and commence the preparation of a new plan as per current national planning policy.
Neither option could be completed inside six months.
He is now asking for TDC to comment but he proposes no deadline. He has specifically stated he does not want consultations on his findings with third parties on his letter.
I attach the Link to the Inspector’s Letter. ID-16-Inspector-Preliminary-Conclusions-Advice (tandridge.gov.uk)