Residents to have a new say on a Local Plan for less development in Three Rivers
16th December 2022
Three Rivers residents will get a new opportunity to have their say on a revised Local Plan for development in the area after councillors agreed a proposal based on what they think is right for the area rather than an “unacceptably high” government-imposed figure.
In October councillors on Three Rivers District Council agreed to produce their own Three Rivers housing number alongside the one expected by the government – which required the district to allocate land for 12,624 new homes by 2038.
In a statement to MPs on 5 December Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, said that the figure would now be advisory, not mandatory and that councils will be consulted on this and other planning changes.
As a result, the district council will now put forward a Local Plan with a much lower new homes figure designed to protect the character of Three Rivers. The council will consult residents on this late next year.
Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst, Deputy Leader of the Council and Lead Member for Infrastructure and Planning Policy, who proposed the new way forward at a meeting of the full council, said: “The council has been clear that government’s method of calculating the housing numbers resulted in an unacceptably high number for Three Rivers which we have objected to. We were committed to getting this reduced and agreed in October to produce, alongside the plan required by the government, our own figure on what was right for Three Rivers.
“Now given the Secretary of State’s statement, and subject to what is in the consultation, we will only put forward our own vision for Three Rivers. I have called this ‘Our vision for Three Rivers- our preferred Local Plan and housing numbers’. This will be based on what we and residents think is best for Three Rivers and we will expect the government to agree with what we put forward.”
Council officers are now to working on reviewing the consultation results from the 2021 Local Plan alongside a consultation on six new suggested sites that might be more suitable for housing. These are going out to consultation in mid-January.
Residents’ views on this and the earlier consultation will be taken into account along with the effects of the pandemic, population changes and the sustainability of new developments as work to develop the new Local Plan is undertaken.
The revised plan with fewer new homes will go before councillors in the summer to consider and will be followed by a public consultation in autumn 2023.
Cllr Giles-Medhurst added: “I know it seems to be odd to consult yet again, but the plans have to be agreed by a government inspector, not by councillors, so we need to ensure we not only go through a detailed assessment process but ensure we have, if at all possible, public backing for what we are doing. Some new homes are needed, and we need the right sort of homes. The plans will also cover strict new planning polices as we aim to get Three Rivers net zero by 2045 as well as covering employment sites.”
Notes to editors:
- A Local Plan is a document which sets out planning policies and proposals for new development, including housing and employment land. All councils in England are legally required by the government to plan for future population growth and demand for housing with Three Rivers given a target of more than 630 new homes a year up to 2037/38 (12,624 in total) . The previous target was 180 new homes a year.
- As a result of earlier consultations on the draft plan (https://www.threerivers.gov.uk/egcl-page/new-local-plan ) 18 new sites were submitted, and three previously submitted sites were resubmitted – six of these are being proposed for potential allocation and are being consulted on. Two of the additional sites are in Bedmond, as a result two sites that were previously included are being removed in order to reduce the cumulate effect on the village. This results in 50 fewer dwelling being suggested for Bedmond.
- The other 15 sites extra sites suggested by landowners have been rejected by councillors as being unsuitable and will not be consulted on.
- The revised Local Plan is currently being developed, details of the plan can be seen here: https://www.threerivers.gov.uk/egcl-page/new-local-plan
For more information contact Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst, Deputy Leader of the Council and Lead Member for Infrastructure and Planning Policy.