The independent inspector tasked with determining if South Gloucestershire Council’s draft Core Strategy is ‘legal and sound’ has halted the examination process because he feels the document needs more work in a number of key areas.
The inspector wrote to the council on 15th August detailing his concerns and giving the council the options of either withdrawing the plan and resubmitting it at a later date or suspending the examination for up to six months to allow additional work to be carried out.
Areas in which the inspector considers more work to be necessary include:
- Providing a detailed breakdown of the differences in the approach to assessing and meeting housing needs between the Core Strategy and the Regional Strategy
- Undertaking an assessment of the Green Belt
- Providing a more detailed analysis of the potential use of Filton Airfield
- Indicating what consequences arise from the redevelopment of Filton Airfield for other parts of the Core Strategy
- Undertaking any necessary revisions to the Sustainability Appraisal as a result of further work which is carried out to support the Core Strategy
- Ensuring appropriate consultation is undertaken in light of any revisions to be made to the Core Strategy
Patrick Conroy, the council’s Spatial Planning Team Manager, replied to the inspector last Friday (2nd September) saying that the council would perform the additional work within six months so that examination could resume in March 2012.
The council says it intends to re-publish the (revised) Core Strategy in December, after which a six week consultation period will commence.
The six month suspension of the examination process is likely to impact the timescales of a number of key projects within South Gloucestershire. For example, the North Fringe to Hengrove Rapid Transit scheme (subject to gaining government funding), for which adoption of the Core Strategy in March 2012 was deemed a ‘key milestone’ in a recent cabinet report.
The Core Strategy is now unlikely to be adopted before September 2012, assuming the examination process takes around six months, as previously estimated.