Thursday, 16 January 2014

Bury Core Strategy in danger of being found unsound. Again.

A Planning Inspector appointed to examine Bury’s Core Strategy has again raised doubts about it's robustness. The Core Strategy was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate on 6 December 2013, but in a letter dated 14 January 2014 the appointed Inspector raises concerns about three key areas.
The news will be a blow to Bury Borough Council, which was forced to withdraw a previous version of the Core Strategy in 2011.
In the letter to interested parties the Inspector raises concerns about the assessment of the Borough’s housing need and the reliance on neighbouring authorities to meet some of that need, as well as the intended approach to employment development in the Green Belt at Gin Hall.
It is emphasised that the Inspector is yet to reach a conclusion as to whether or not the Core Strategy is “sound”, but “wishes to explore his concerns by asking questions of representatives of Bury Council and the relevant neighbouring authorities at this initial stage, rather than involving all participants to the Examination in the time and effort of preparing for and attending hearing sessions if there is little or no prospect of the document as a whole being found sound.”
The Inspector’s concerns come as little surprise to those following the Core Strategy’s progress. The number of homes that the Council intends to promote is based upon the number that can be built without amending the Green Belt boundary, rather than the amount that will actually be required. If the Council can demonstrate that the Green Belt really is not the most sustainable location for new homes then it also needs to demonstrate how neighbouring authorities will accommodate the remainder of the homes required. The Inspector currently appears to share concerns that to date the Council has made neither case.
An Exploratory Meeting in to the Core Strategy will be held at Bury Town Hall on 25 February 2013.

19 June Update: The Examination opened this week and I understand that already the Core Strategy is in danger of being found unsound. The Council's position not helped by an acknowledgement, apparently, that it's housing need evidence is wrong. News is expected next week on how the Inspector wishes to proceed.

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