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Inspector approves Winchester Local Plan

Winchester City Council has had its Core Strategy found 'sound' by a planning inspector, subject to a number of modifications. 18 Feb 2013

The modifications the Council is recommended to make include that the housing total for the district over the plan period is increased to 12,500. The inspector said in his report (31-page / 166KB PDF) that this would reflect extra capacity identified at development sites at North Whiteley and in the Market Towns and rural area.

The inspector recommended that the Council includes a model policy in the plan containing a presumption in favour of sustainable development and that it clarifies the new employment land requirements for the district. The Council is also recommended to make clarifications to its retail policy.

The inspector concluded that, subject to implementation of the recommended modifications, the plan provides "an appropriate basis for the planning of the District over the next 20 years."

The Council has drafted the plan jointly with the South Downs National Park Authority as Winchester District covers the area that lies in South Downs National Park (SDNP). The SDNP will have its own Local Plan in due course which will supersede the Winchester plan.

"I am delighted that the Inspector has found our Local Plan sound, one of only a handful across the country since the introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework in March 2012," said the Council's deputy leader and portfolio holder for strategic planning, Rob Humby.

"This will provide the certainty that the District needs to plan positively. It will ensure that the right amount and type of development is delivered so that the District remains prosperous."

"The Council has listened to its communities throughout the preparation of the plan and we now have a local plan that reflects local views, and which puts Winchester in control of its future," Humby said.

The Core Strategy has been the focus of attention in a long-running battle by developer Cala Homes to gain planning permission for a 2,000-home scheme at Barton Farm in Winchester. Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, had refused the scheme, saying that approval would undermine the emerging Core Strategy. However, the refusal was quashed by the High Court and Pickles granted permission to the scheme in September last year.

The Council said it expects to adopt the plan in March or April.