Council votes for public consultation on preferred local plan

NMAC10-2465-2''Kirkby Ashfield District Council Offices
NMAC10-2465-2''Kirkby Ashfield District Council Offices
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Ashfield residents are soon to get their say on how land is allocated in the Local Plan for 480 homes a year for the next 15 years.

The decision was rubber stamped at an extraordinary meeting of ADCs Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday.

Opposition councillors had called in the decision for further scrutiny amid concerns of how it had been arrived at.

A meeting of the authority’s cabinet had voted in favour of the Preferred Local Plan plan on January 7 and is now set to go through a six-week public consultation process.

Last year, the council voted to withdraw its local plan after a Government inspector said it was probably “unsound”.

The authority must deliver the plan by 2017, or the council would lose its right to determine planning applications in the area.

At the meeting at Ashfield District Council Offices Independent councillor Jason Zadrozny said: “We have significant concerns about the way the process has taken place. He said brownfield sites had been ‘left to rot’ while green areas like Ashland Road west had been included in the plans.

He said the council had not provided him with an actual scoring system for how the land had been allocated.

A cross-party meeting of the Local Development Framework Steering Group to review the sites planned for November had been cancelled and the council had instead pressed on with its Preferred Local Plan.

He said: “In October none of the sites or scoring were made available.

“For all I know the scoring process is robust, But by cancelling that meeting and choosing what sites were included themselves, the transparency of the process was eradicated.

“We failed for that reason last time when the inspector tore up our local Plan.

It is vital for me to say to my residents the plan was scored properly.”

He submitted a motion asking for the Preferred Local Plan to be referred back to the cross party steering committee to look again at the allocations.

The motion also included a recommendation to show better scoring and ranking to show why one site was in and others not included.

The overview and Scrutiny Committee voted against the motion.

Deputy council deputy leader Don Davis said: “Councillor Zadrozny is right if we don’t deliver an evidence-based plan the Government will come in and do it.

“There will be a public consultation and we are now delaying that process and risking Central Government coming in.

“The procedure has been followed in line with the National Planning Policy Framework which does not require formal scoring just clarity and evidence. This can already be found in the plan which is available on the council website.

“It takes into account strategic housing, employment land and a green belt review based on evidence and contributions. It simply asks for a public consultation.”

Coun Davis said suggestions that the preferred plan was developer-led were ‘outrageous’.

He added: “We are obliged by Central Government to do this. It does not follow that all the applications are accepted in the plan.

“All sites are subject to robust assessment which is evidence based. Only sustainable sites are accepted and many have been rejected.

He emphasized all sites have to go through due process and be approved in terms such as structures and egress.

The Preferred Plan is about sites that can be developed rather than the applications made by developers themselves.

The public consultation will last six weeks, using various platforms including social media.

Officers will then consult again on revisions to the preferred approach.

After this second round of consultation, the council will submit the plan to the secretary of state and he will appoint an inspector to examine the plan in public, before making his recommendation to the Government about approval. ADC anticipates this inspection will take place by November or December next year.