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Hart District Council's plan fails in duty to cooperate, says Wokingham council member

A local authority has accused a neighbouring authority of failing in its 'duty to co-operate' over a planning document. 15 Jan 2013

Executive member for highways and planning at Wokingham Borough Council Keith Baker criticised Hart District Council over the draft provisions of its Core Strategy, which he said would lead to an increase of traffic on Wokingham's roads.

Under the Localism Act local authorities have a duty to co-operate with neighbouring councils by consulting and engaging with them when preparing local plans. The previous plan safeguarded land to improve the A33 and A327 road corridors, however the new draft core strategy fails to do this and has been developed in isolation, said Baker.

Baker told Planning Resource; "Hart has failed in its duty to co-operate. Quite simply, any development within a borough does not happen in total isolation and they should have worked with us to see what mitigation was needed. Their proposals would generate traffic in Wokingham and we do not believe that has been adequately considered."

Baker’s executive member decision paper stated that:  "it is not considered that the Hart District Core Strategy complies with the duty to co-operate since it has not considered the implications for delivering infrastructure which potentially is required to serve development in Wokingham Borough".

"Whilst the general transport policy (CS13) recognises that highway improvements to support development proposed in Hart District may be required outside of their area, policy CS11 (infrastructure) implies that this will only occur in Hampshire," the paper said.

The paper said that as a significant number of people already travel from Hart District to both Reading and Wokingham Boroughs, Hart District Council needed to demonstrate with technical evidence that its proposals could be delivered without the need for improvements along the A33 and A327 corridors.

Without this, and taking account of the potential need for improvements in Hart associated with Wokingham Borough's development, the paper said that the Hart Core Strategy would not meet the duty to cooperate and, it said, the Core Strategy "is neither justified nor effective."