Following the Examination in Public of Warrington’s Proposed Submission Version Local Plan (“draft Local Plan”), the Planning Inspectorate have set out their initial views in a post-hearing letter.
This letter, available to read on the council website, provides initial views from the Inspectors on the key issues discussed during the Examination in Public and the next steps for progressing the Local Plan.
It states that importantly, the Inspectors are satisfied with the council’s housing calculation requirement of 816 homes per year, and while they do not consider we can rely on housing completions from the Waterfront site and that the southern part of the Fiddlers Ferry site should not be removed from the Green Belt, they conclude that there would still be a sufficient supply of housing sites to meet the housing requirement over the plan period.
From an employment perspective, the Inspectors’ initial view is that the amount of employment land required isn’t as much as stated in the draft Local Plan, on the basis that the council’s assessment of need was based on previous rates of employment land completion, compared to the Inspectors’ calculations and views being based on the number of jobs that are forecast to come forward, supported by the number of new homes.
This assessment of employment land has led the Inspectors to take a view that not all proposed employment sites will need to come forward as part of the draft Local Plan.
With this in mind, the Inspectors have made their initial view that with some modifications, the Local Plan will be sound. These modifications will be consulted on publicly by the council for six weeks, early in 2023. Having reviewed the responses to the modifications consultation, the Inspectors will then issue their final report before the Plan is then expected to proceed to Full Council for adoption.
Leader of the Council, Cllr Russ Bowden, said: “We note the Inspectors’ initial views and are pleased that the draft Local Plan is progressing. We will now consider the modifications required to the Plan that will go back out for a public consultation, so that we can continue to gather feedback.
“This further, and hopefully final, consultation on the modifications will give us the chance to respond to any final matters raised in the Inspectors’ initial judgement, as we work towards next year when we expect the Plan to be put forward for adoption.”
To read the full letter from the Planning Inspectorate and to find out more about the Local Plan, visit the Local Plan pages on the council’s website.