North Herts planning inspector calls further public hearings for Local Plan

PUBLISHED: 13:22 15 July 2019 | UPDATED: 13:29 15 July 2019

North Herts District Council offices in Gernon Road, Letchworth. Picture: North Herts District Council

North Herts District Council offices in Gernon Road, Letchworth. Picture: North Herts District Council

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The planning inspector for North Herts District Council's Local Plan has penned a letter addressing "issues and reservations", and has called for further hearing sessions in light of new evidence.

Councillor Paul Clark said the council is currently considering how best to address the inspectors requests. Picture: Liberal DemocratsCouncillor Paul Clark said the council is currently considering how best to address the inspectors requests. Picture: Liberal Democrats

Inspector Simon Berkeley, who lead the original hearings in 2017, has concluded that more hearings need to take place due to concerns over housing need, the use of Green Belt, and other issues.

NHDC's executive member for planning, Councillor Paul Clark, said: "We recently received a letter from the inspector who is examining the new Local Plan for North Hertfordshire.

"The letter identified some issues and reservations he has concerning the Local Plan that have come to light since the hearings took place.

"These relate to five main points including the objective assessment of housing need, the Green Belt Review Update, the proposed east of Luton sites, safeguarded land to the west of Stevenage and the main modifications proposing to allocate new land for development.

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"The council is currently considering how best to address the inspector's requests."

One key point raised by Mr Berkeley was the safeguarded land west of Stevenage and the "continuing disagreement between the council and Stevenage Borough Council about which local authority's future housing needs the land should address".

Inspector Simon Berkeley said in the letter: "My starting point here is that further hearings sessions will not usually be held unless they are necessary to resolve a fundamental soundness issue, to deal with substantial issues raised in the representations or to ensure fairness.
"However, in the light of the representations, the new evidence produced during the examination and since I closed the hearings, and my re-consideration of evidence in the context of the representations, I have decided that some further hearing sessions must now take place.

"I anticipate that this news will be received by the council and others supporting the submitted plan with both frustration and disappointment. It is not a decision I have arrived at lightly."

Mr Berkeley concluded the letter stating: "I would reassure the council that I remain committed to progressing the examination to a point where a sound plan can adopted."

To view the letter in full, go to www.north-herts.gov.uk/files/ed166-inspector-letter-council-9-july-2019pdf

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