Friday, 20 February 2015

CBC versus LBC And A "Duty To Co-operate"

An Inspector has said that he "considers the co-operation between Central Bedfordshire Council and Luton Borough Council in particular has fallen short of the required level." [http://www.hrnd.co.uk/2015/02/cbc-has-failed-in-its-duty-to-cooperate.html]

He is now recommending non-adoption of the Development Strategy Plan for Central Bedfordshire.

Cllr Nigel Young has responded saying, "I cannot and will not accept the Inspector’s conclusions that it is ‘inevitable’ for the area to meet all of Luton’s unmet need. We genuinely feel his findings are at best misguided, if not perverse, and next week I will be seeking the support of the full Council to call for a judicial review of the process."

Well, I think the next CBC Council meeting will call for a judicial review, but it's six of one and half a dozen of the other. LBC have not co-operated with CBC. At the development meeting I attended last week the 2 parcels of land in Houghton Regis off Bedford Rd were for determination as part of the overall scheme for Development. An LBC planning officer attended to verbally object but admitted they had not made written objections during the consultation period and that their councillors had not discussed the applications; it was just their planning officer objecting. As far as their ideas on planning go, he apparently wasn't even clear as to how he was to get back to Luton, as our Town Clerk ended up offering him a lift back to Clophill so he could catch a bus.

The Inspector's decision will make it harder for local councils to resist other housing schemes that come forward. By allowing building to go ahead off Bedford Rd on land that actually does include a minimum of some green stretches to broadly fit in with the aspirations of the HRN Framework Plan, CBC planning dept could argue they are doing their best to keep to the plan. With that plan now being classed as unsound due to insufficient co-operation with neighbouring LAs, developers could just argue back (with expensive QCs) saying that there should be no hinderance to them building. After all, they've long been saying that the Green Belt will be rolled back to the line of the A5-M1 link and assuming that it does get rolled back, then there would be nothing to stop developers arguing the case to fill up any remaining plots. CBC would have no plan to fall back on that says "This is how many homes we said we'd build, and we've now reached that limit".
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