News and Updates
Public hearing dates announced for Spelthorne Borough Council’s Local Plan Examination
Spelthorne Council announces the dates for the public hearings as part of its Local Plan examination, which will commence on 23 May 2023.
The independent Inspector appointed to examine the Spelthorne Local Plan, Jameson Bridgwater PGDipTP MRTPI, has been reading through the Plan, all the evidence that supports it and the representations received from members of the public and other stakeholders. With the examination well underway, Mr Bridgwater is now able to prepare for the public hearing sessions that also form an integral part of examining the Local Plan.
The sessions will be held in person in the Council Chamber, with arrangements in place for virtual participation where required. Those who made representations will have the opportunity to appear at the hearings and speak directly to the Inspector. The Programme Officer will be in touch with those parties in due course. The Inspector will produce a schedule for which topics will be discussed at each hearing sessions, which will be published on the examination website.
The dates for the hearings are as follows, starting at 10am each day:
• Tuesday 23 May 2023 and run until Thursday 25 May 2023
• Tuesday 13 June 2023 and run until Thursday 15 June 2023
• Tuesday 20 June 2023 and run until Thursday 22 June 2023
This is yet another positive step forward to get the Local Plan adopted without further delay as it has already taken over six years to reach this stage. Having an out of date Local Plan and without a five-year supply of housing has counted against Spelthorne at appeal on developments the Council has refused. There are also other significant benefits the Local Plan will deliver, including family homes with gardens, affordable housing, local infrastructure, sports and recreation enhancements, a new sixth form college and a new community centre for Ashford. Importantly, it will greatly strengthen our defence against predatory development on crucial Green Belt sites as well as offering much greater protection for many of our smaller urban open spaces. Once the Plan is in place, the Strategic Planning team can then focus on other essential projects such as design codes, further transport work in Staines and enhancing our local green areas and infrastructure.
Councillor Ian Beardsmore, Chair of Environment & Sustainability Committee, said “We welcome the news that the Inspector is keen to progress with the public hearings. The clear majority of residents support the benefits of what the plan will deliver and achieve and want it to progress without further delay. Our Local Plan will bring many benefits and protections to Spelthorne and we look forward to having it adopted so we can move to the ‘delivery phase’ of the Plan.”
Spelthorne Borough Council examination website: www.spelthornelocalplan.info
Read the representations following the summer consultation at Regulation 20 Representations – Spelthorne Takes Shape (spelthornelocalplan.info)
Regulation 24 Notice: https://spelthornelocalplan.info/wp-content/uploads/sby-local-media/Council-Documents/EDCD001-Notice-of-Examination-Hearings.pdf
20 December 2022 – Planning inspector appointed to examine Spelthorne’s new Local Plan
An independent inspector has now been appointed to examine the Spelthorne Local Plan, following submission to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities on 25 November 2022. The Plan will guide future development in the Borough over the next 15 years.
This is another positive step forward to progress the Local Plan through to adoption. It has taken over six years to reach this stage and having an out-of-date Local Plan and without a five-year supply of housing has counted against Spelthorne at appeal on developments the Council has refused. There are also other significant benefits the Local Plan will deliver, including family homes with gardens, affordable housing, local infrastructure, sports and recreation enhancements, a new sixth form college and greater protection for our urban open spaces.
The appointed inspector, Jameson Bridgwater PGDipTP, will now contact Spelthorne through the Programme Officer to make arrangements for the examination. The Programme Officer provides the channel of communication between the inspector, the Council and those involved in the examination as the inspector can’t be spoken to directly in order to maintain impartiality.
It was announced recently by the Secretary of State, Michael Gove MP, that changes to national planning policy and guidance are expected to be announced before Christmas for consultation. The changes could have implications for Spelthorne’s Local Plan in terms of the number of homes that should be planned for and where development takes place, such as through releasing Green Belt and intensifying use of urban sites. Once the detail has been considered, there will be a Local Plan Task Group meeting followed by an Extraordinary Environment and Sustainability Committee meeting on 31 January 2023 to review the changes and what they mean for the Local Plan, plus options for how the Council can choose to proceed with the examination and respond to any updated Government policies.
However, just last Thursday the Housing Minister allowed a development of 970 houses on Green Belt in York. This scheme represents more than all the proposed Green Belt development for Spelthorne in its Submission Version of the Local Plan.
Cllr Ian Beardsmore, Chair of the Environment and Sustainability Committee, said: “We are pleased to have been appointed our inspector and can progress the Local Plan through to examination but the very mixed messages about changes to the planning system are seemingly contradictory. We are waiting for the detail before making any decisions and will be looking at all the options available to us. We know that our residents want a Local Plan adopted without further delay. However, if there are updates to policy that do offer us opportunities to make positive changes to our Plan, we still have that option.”
Written Ministerial Statement on changes to the planning system: https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-statements/detail/2022-12-06/hcws415
Tuesday 29 November 2022 – Spelthorne Borough Council submits Local Plan to Secretary of State
On Friday 25 November, Spelthorne Council submitted its draft Local Plan to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Homes and Communities for independent inspection. The Plan will guide future development in the Borough over the next 15 years, including affordable homes for residents, local infrastructure, a new sixth form college and offer greater protection for our urban open spaces. The Plan positively tackles the impact of climate change in our borough and ensures important biodiversity is protected.
It has taken more than five years to reach this key milestone. During that time, three public consultations totalling 32 weeks were undertaken on the Local Plan, together with further public consultations on the Staines Development Framework.
Submitting the Plan for examination is a crucial step forward and an independent planning inspector will now be appointed by the Planning Inspectorate to consider whether it is ‘sound’ and can be adopted. This means the strategy and policies will be scrutinised in detail to make sure they are justified and effective and comply with statutory requirements. The land allocated as development sites will also be considered by the inspector.
There will be a series of public hearings held in 2023 where the inspector will listen to all the arguments for and against various aspects of the Plan. The inspector will then advise Spelthorne if the Plan is sound, likely with some changes that will require further public consultation, before the Plan is brought back for a decision by councillors on whether the Council should adopt it. If so, the Local Plan can then be used when deciding planning applications.
There is a new website dedicated to the examination process where residents can view the Local Plan and the supporting evidence and documents required for submission https://spelthornelocalplan.info . It will be updated in due course to contain further documents needed to stay informed, including officer responses to representations made during consultation, any letters received from the planning inspector, information about what stage is reached and the dates and documents for each hearing session, including links to the Planning Inspectorate videos explaining the examination process.
The hearings will be open to the public and live-streamed online. The inspector will be appointed within the next three weeks and the Council will then provide further details on the hearings, which are likely to take place in spring 2023. The inspector will be notified of those who have requested to appear at the hearings when representations were made during the consultation process.