Date Published: 03 September 2021
Councillors have voted to withdraw Rutland’s Submitted Local Plan from examination.
The decision was taken at a Special Full Council meeting on Wednesday 1 September, after Councillors voted not to revisit a previous decision made in March to reject a Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) grant of £29.4million – funding needed to support the development of a new garden community at St George’s Barracks.
Proposals for a St George’s garden community were included in the Draft Local Plan on the basis that Rutland had been awarded a HIF grant by Homes England. The Draft Local Plan was approved by Councillors in February 2020 and submitted for examination in February 2021, following a final round of statutory consultation. Councillors subsequently voted not to accept HIF funding for St George’s in March 2021. It has since been confirmed that no alternative source of funding is available.
In the absence of major funding for critical infrastructure, current St George’s garden community proposals are not viable. This in turn undermines the viability and soundness of the wider Local Plan. All Local Planning Authorities must have a valid Local Plan that sets out where future housing, employment and other development will take place over a period of at least 15 years. There is an expectation from Government that up-to-date plans should be in place by December 2023.
The decision to withdraw the Local Plan means work must now begin on a new Plan. It is anticipated this will take around four years to prepare. Councillors also voted to set aside almost £1.4million to cover the cost of making a new Plan and operating without one during this period. Work on a new Local Plan for Rutland will begin as quickly as possible. The Council will confirm the steps that need to be undertaken, as well as indicative timescales, in due course.
Rutland will not have an up-to-date policy framework to meet its housing and development needs while a new Local Plan is being prepared. The absence of a valid Local Plan will also impact Rutland’s five-year housing supply and make the county more susceptible to speculative, unplanned development.
“I am disappointed with the decision to withdraw the Local Plan, in light of the wider implications for our county. However, I am committed to working with all Councillors to deliver a new Local Plan that allows Rutland to make the best of future housing and development opportunities. We need to protect what is unique and special about our county while meeting the needs of families, businesses and young people. The decision to withdraw the existing Local Plan is not without serious risks, which were made very clear to all Councillors. Our full focus must now be on working together to manage these risks and preparing a new Plan as quickly as possible.”Councillor Oliver Hemsley, Leader of Rutland County Council
The agenda and report for Wednesday’s Special Full Council meeting can be read online at: www.rutland.gov.uk/meetings. Minutes of the meeting will be published within 10 days.