Council pledges to press on with its local plan despite national uncertainties

Published Wednesday, 07 September 2022

The council has pledged to continue its work on progressing its Local Plan following consultation on a submission draft of the Plan which was published in February.

The Local Plan is crucial when it comes to planning in the borough, controlling what can be built and where.

It sets out preferred locations for new housing and employment and includes several planning policies. These policies cover issues such as conserving and enhancing the environment, sustainable transport, and addressing the growing issue of climate change. 

Originally, the Local Plan had been due to be sent to the Secretary of State for examination, after the council finished the necessary public consultations on the document in March this year. 

However, the council has been forced to review its timetable based on several factors including new national requirements and housing targets, uncertainties around government statements on proposed changes to the planning system and the need for further work by local agencies to assess and advise on local impacts such as highways and education.

The council was preparing to submit its plan to government for examination following consultation in March this year. However, following legal advice it has been forced to delay submission until later in 2023.

In summary the main issues are:

  • The revised methodology published late March by the government has increased the numbers of new homes the council must plan for to meet revised affordability requirements
  • The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill published by government sets out changes in respect to the ‘Duty to Co-operate’ with adjacent councils and is expected to be replaced by a new ‘Alignment Test’. However, no details of this new test have been announced, leaving uncertainty about how councils should treat the housing and employment needs of other areas
  • A promised new national ‘Prospectus’ for changes to the National Planning Policy Framework has yet to be published – this could have significant implications for how Local Plans are progressed
  • Statements made by the new Prime Minister in the run-up to her appointment have indicated a removal of the requirement for housing targets, the ‘duty to co-operate’ and the requirements to maintain a five-year housing supply
  • Clarification of the number of additional houses that HBBC would be required to accommodate from Leicester city’s target has also since been published

Executive Member for Planning at Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council, Councillor David Bill, said:

We are committed to plan for the future needs of our residents but wish to ensure the new homes and employment sites are in the right places with the right infrastructure. We are currently working in very uncertain times and we want to get things right. We are therefore pausing the submission of our Plan to Government pending the commissioning of further work to address new and emerging requirements and to give agencies like the County Council time to complete their assessment on matters such as highway impacts, educational needs which they have said will take them well into next year. In the meantime, we will continue to support development proposals that meet our current requirements but continue to reject inappropriate development schemes.