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Housing and Traveller Sites Plan Update

On the 9th December Mole Valley District Council agreed that the preparation of the HOUSing and Traveller Sites Plan be terminated.

In order to fulfil our wider planning responsibilities, including the protection of our Green Belt, the Council takes the preliminary steps necessary to prepare a new Local Plan in line with the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework.

Several events have occurred which have led the Council to this decision.

The first concerns the possibility that the proposed Plan would not be found sound by a Planning Inspector. This concern has been triggered by what we have seen happen to similar plans to ours. Planning Inspectors have been taking the view that housing numbers in local plans should be based on an assessment of needs, rather than figures taken from now revoked Regional Plans. The figure Mole Valley was working towards was taken from the revoked South East Plan and we are concerned that if we were to submit the Housing and Traveller Sites Plan for examination it would not get past a Planning Inspector.

Secondly. the HOUSing and Traveller Sites Plan would almost certainly have proposed some land being taken out of the Green Belt and allocated for housing development. Recent statements by Secretary of State Eric Pickles about the Green Belt have emphasised the Government’s view that when planning for new bUildings, protecting the Green Belt must be paramount and priority given to brownfield sites.

We also know from our consultation and engagement with local communities that there is a strong body of opinion that is opposed to any loss of Green Belt land for new homes.

Finally, we have seen an increase in the number of homes in Mole Valley that have been granted planning permission and the number in the pipeline is also healthy. This has reduced significantly the amount of land that might have been required. It also strengthens our ability to resist development in inappropriate locations.

These issues have resulted in the Council deciding to terminate work on the proposed Housing and Traveller Sites Plan. However we are mindful of the Government’s requirement that local planning authorities prepare local plans to provide clarity about where and what type of development will and will not be permitted in the future. Therefore the Council will shortly need to embark on the preparation of a new Local Plan that will not only address the need to provide new homes but will also look at all the other issues we face, including jobs, infrastructure and safeguarding the environment of Mole Valley.

Jackie Coke

Clerk to the Council 01306 712447 email

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