The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark MP, has called in Maldon’s Local Development Plan.
This is only the second example of such an intervention since the NPPF came into force in 2012, the other being North Somerset’s Local Plan which was affected in a similar way.
In May 2015, Maldon District Council’s Local Plan was found unsound by the Planning Inspectorate, as a result of it failing to meet the requirements for Travellers (policy H6). The Inspector also inferred a number of concerns relating to housing policy.
In response to this failing, Maldon District Council requested that the Inspector continue the examination of the plan and allow for the provision of minor modifications to counter the concerns raised. The council contended that the full withdrawal of the plan would be ‘completely disproportionate’, as it was not the whole plan which had failed during the examination.
The Inspector responded:
‘My Interim Findings are that all the Plan’s housing policies, taken together, are fundamentally unsound because the Plan does not identify and meet objectively assessed housing needs and it is not based on adequate, up-to-date and relevant evidence as required in national policy. This means that the Plan’s housing policies should be reconsidered as a whole and further progressed as one integrated series of policies with associated infrastructure.’
However, since the Inspector’s response, Greg Clark MP has written to call in the Local Plan:
‘I note the Council’s concerns in relation to the approach taken by the Planning Inspector and I wish to test whether the inspector has reached a proportionate and balanced view on the Local Plan as a whole in the light of national planning policy.’
Plainview Planning was heavily involved in the Maldon Local Plan examination. We raised concerns about the failings in the housing policies presented to the Inspector, such as:
- The Local plan could only meet between 130-201 affordable dwellings per annum, rather than the required 319-390 dwellings as indicated by the SHMA in September 2014.
- The need for Maldon to raise its overall housing target to meet both affordable and market housing needs in the district.
- Maldon district does not provide any evidence or justification to demonstrate that they are a self-contained HMA and therefore the HMA overlaps with neighbouring boundaries within the markets of Chelmsford and Braintree.
It will be interesting to see the response to the plan from the Secretary of State. In the meantime Maldon District Council will be kept in limbo a while longer on the status of their Local Development Plan.