A Welsh Government Inspector has officially recommended that Wrexham’s Local Development Plan (LDP) be withdrawn this morning, potentially putting the process back by two to three years.
Wrexham Council’s executive board reluctantly agreed to support the withdrawal at their meeting on Tuesday after the inspector raised fundamental concerns with the plan.
Planning Inspector Mr Hywel Jones recommended that the provision of 12,000 homes be included in the plan as opposed to the council’s proposals for 8,000 new homes.
Further issues stemmed from an apparent lack of provision for affordable housing and gypsy/traveller sites in the LDP.
Wrexham Council’s Head of Community Wellbeing and Development Lawrence Isted said: “The council is disappointed that the Wrexham Local Development Plan, which has undergone extensive public consultation and member consideration over several years and which has wide-spread community support, has come to a halt.”
Councillors expressed their frustration at the prospect of withdrawing the plan at the eleventh hour arguing that the Welsh Government’s population projections, on which the housing figures are based, were inaccurate.
However, they accepted that the six month period allowed for the suspension of the plan would not be sufficient to resolve the issues, meaning that they accepted that the inspector may recommend the withdrawal of the plan.
Planning Inspector, Mr Hywel Jones said: “It seems to me that suspension is not the appropriate course of action, on that basis I intend to formally recommend that the plan is withdrawn. A formal letter will be lodged with the council next week for them to then withdraw the plan.”
When questioned on the implications of the plan’s withdrawal for the local planning process Mr Jones declined to comment.
Wrexham Council now intends to obtain further evidence to address the concerns raised, Mr Isted said: “The council hopes that this evidence will support changes that are consistent with the overall strategy of the plan and therefore entail a delay of approximately 12 months before resubmission.”
Mr Isted admitted that if the evidence did not support the authority’s strategy the process could take considerably longer: “If the evidence requires the strategy to be reconsidered the plan will need to return to the pre-deposit stage to allow for revised assessments, full public consultation and member involvement and this is likely to entail a delay of two to three years before resubmission.”
The council will assess 2011 census statistics, affordable housing needs and whether to allocate new gypsy/traveller sites as part of its evidence.
To find the latest information on the LDP visit http://www.wrexham.gov.uk/english/planning_portal/plan_policy/independent_examination/index.htm