Maldon District Council have been in the process of producing their new Local Development Plan for a considerable length of time, with the plan submitted for examination in April 2014. The examining Inspector wrote to the Council in May 2015 stating that the whole plan is unsound due to issues with Policy H6, provision for Travellers. The Council disagreed with this approach and Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, called in the plan on 8 June 2015 to test this approach and determine whether it was proportionate.

The Council have been in a state of uncertainty since the submission of their plan, with the majority of appeal Inspectors finding that only limited weight can be given to the housing policies in the emerging plan. On 6 March 2016 Greg Clark issued his response, agreeing with the examining Inspector that Policy H6 is not consistent with national policy. However, Greg Clark disagrees that this results in the whole plan being unsound, stating that the Council should have the opportunity to resolve the issues with Policy H6.

Greg Clark does not comment on the soundness of the plan or its consistency with national policy, other than with reference to Policy H6. Essentially he reopens the examination for another Inspector to review all available evidence, reaching their own view on what further information or hearings are needed. Simon Berkeley has recently been announced as the newly appointed Planning Inspector, who will decide the procedure and timetable for completing the examination.

There is currently no timetable available but it has taken nine months for a response to be received from the Secretary of State and it is highly likely that further hearings will be required, at least regarding the employment policies. There still appears to be a considerable length of time before the plan is adopted, with the weight to be given to the emerging plan limited accordingly. The Council have been stating since last June that they can now demonstrate a five year housing land supply, with heavy reliance on the housing allocations within the plan. Some inspectors have issued decisions disagreeing with this, with Smart Planning also disputing this position. At the current time there is still development potential within Maldon, with weight still to be given to the provision of housing. To discuss the development potential of your site in light of the Secretary of State’s letter please contact us today or book into our free weekly surgery.