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Flaws in Telford & Wrekin Council planning blueprint 'an embarrassment'

Telford | News | Published:

A planning lawyer claims a inspector's rejection of Telford & Wrekin Council's blueprint for the future is an "embarrassment" for the authority.

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David Brammer, head of planning at Lanyon Bowdler Solicitors said: "Councils are under a lot of pressure and I think everyone has respect for the important work they do, but this setback is something of an embarrassment for the council.

"It must be worrying for the council that the government planning inspector's note refers to 'serious soundness concerns'.

"A lot of his language is expressed in 'planning speak' but you do not really need to read between the lines too much to realise that the council still has a significant amount of work to do to satisfy the inspector that the local plan is sufficiently robust and consistent with the standards required of such documents.

"This is a serious situation, bearing in mind the fact that this local plan is expected to cover a period stretching into the future which will affect all decisions on housing sites and other matters.

"The wording of his note is quite explicit about the perceived shortcomings of the local plan and the measures which will be required in order to rectify this."

Mr Brammer added that a significant issue raised by the inspector was that it "may have disadvantaged otherwise acceptable sites in private ownership" because it tended to favour publicly-owned land, which the inspector said had no basis in national planning policy.

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The council's deputy leader Councillor Richard Overton said the inspector had given the council an opportunity to address his concerns before the final submission is made.

The authority has been asked to review several aspects of its local plan, with Government Inspector Michael Hetherington warning that the selection of sites for housing is "flawed".

The local plan covers its aspirations for the economy, jobs, growth and housing development up until 2031. It identifies sites where certain types of development can take place. But the interim examination of the plan has identified concerns over the predicted level of job creation and supporting for the choice of housing sites. The report states that a clear audit trail is required to show how the council arrived at decisions.

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