There is new vigour amongst community groups concerning planning matters.
The news that Horsforth’s Strawberry Fields (HG2-41 in Site Allocations Plan (SAP) proposals) was to be increased in size came as a shock, especially as 1952 respondents in the SAP consultation objected to the inclusion of the site for housing in Horsforth.
This, and the use of other significant greenbelt sites across Leeds, prompted the formation of the new Yorkshire Greenspace Alliance (YGA), as it is crystal clear that Leeds is not listening, and that legal challenge has to be made at the Leeds SAP hearing during 2017. This will be held in front of a government inspector. There will be more on this as the YGA group develops its campaign.
Meanwhile (on August 22nd 2016) Inspector Pratt of the Bristol Planning Inspectorate published his findings concerning the soundness of the Bradford (BMDC) Core Strategy. Simply put, he found the plan to be sound, BUT with changes to policy wording that he wrote himself.
Does this not therefore imply that the plan as it stands (as Bradford MDC have not yet agreed the alterations) is unsound?
What is questionable about Pratt’s report is that in many critical sections, like Policy SC7 Greenbelt, Pratt has added policy text to justify the use of greenbelt “in order to meet its (Bradford’s) development needs for housing in full and in order to support long term economic success of the district.” These are, in the same policy text, “the exceptional circumstances (that) exist which justify and require a change to the greenbelt”. Repeatedly the government’s Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has stated that fulfilling a local authority housing target is not to be used as an exceptional circumstance – so Pratt’s revised policy is contrary to that.
So, is Bradford’s Core Strategy unsound without these changes and additions to policy?
How can an Inspector declare his own work sound, and thereby determine Bradford’s CS on the basis of his work rather than that of BMDC?
Has Pratt not exceeded his authority in doing this?
Has Pratt created evidence without which the plan would have been unsound?
WARD will be writing to the minister to draw his attention to the issue of legality of an Inspector writing policy for BMDC, to make a Bradford’s Core Strategy sound.