South Somerset District Council has agreed to request a six month suspension of the examination into its draft Local Plan following receipt of a letter from the examiner setting out a number of concerns relating to the soundness of the plan.02 Aug 2013
The Planning Inspector appointed to carry out the examination sent a letter (13-page / 115KB PDF) to the Council last month following two examination hearings in May and June. He said that there were three "significant areas of concern" and asked the Council to give "very serious consideration" to whether there is an appropriate way forward.
The Inspector's concerns included issues around the sustainability appraisal the Council had carried out in relation to the site selection process for its proposed Yeovil Urban Extension. He said that, on the evidence submitted, he could not be "sufficiently certain that the most appropriate location for a sustainable development of about 2,500 dwellings has been selected."
The Inspector said that the Council's "proposed direction of growth at Ilminster appears not to be sound". He also said that its policy on employment provision was not properly evidenced and that, even with modifications proposed by the Council, it would not be sound.
"As it stands I regret that I am currently unable to confirm that the submitted local plan is sound," the Inspector concluded. He said that "substantial further work" was required and that there was a risk that the necessary changes would be "so extensive that they could not be reasonably made to the submitted plan without it becoming an entirely different strategy".
The Council said in a statement that it would undertake further work to address the Inspector's concerns if the examination suspension was granted.