The Epping Forest District Local Plan is moving closer to completion as the Council acts to finalise the Plan before new changes are introduced by the Government.
Last month the Government published proposals to change the way in which housing requirements are calculated for Local Plans. Such proposals would result in major changes being required to the Epping Forest District Local Plan to significantly increase the amount of new housing for the District from 11,400 homes identified in the Draft Local Plan to 20,306 if the Plan has not been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for Examination before the end of March 2018.
As a result the Council is aiming to publish the Plan towards the end of December for a period of six weeks, at which stage it will be possible to make representations in relation to the soundness and legal compliance of the Plan before the Council submits it for Examination. Any representations received will then be made available to the Planning Inspector appointed to undertake the Examination.
By submitting the Plan for Examination before the end of March 2018, the Council is seeking to ensure that the District will be covered by an up to date Plan to meet future development and infrastructure needs at the earliest possible opportunity. The Plan will require high quality development to be accompanied by required infrastructure in the most sustainable locations, enabling the Council to resist development proposals which are deemed to be inappropriate.
Latest update sent to stakeholders
Cabinet Planning Portfolio Holder John Philip is writing to update relevant partner organisations and stakeholders.
Councillor Philip said: “We received more than 3,000 representations to last year’s consultation as well as suggestions for new sites. The sites we identify need to be practical and sustainable. Protecting the character of the district remains one of our top priorities while recognising we must have new housing if we are to meet local need. With housing we also need infrastructure, everything from, roads, public transport and electricity supply to schools, health facilities and leisure centres.”
Councillor Philip continued: “There is a severe housing shortage in the South East and a great deal of external pressure on our district. If we don’t finalise and submit our Local Plan before the end of March, new government proposals could require us to go back to the drawing board and that would leave us without an up to date Plan to guide and manage future growth. Therefore, it is now more important than ever that we get the Plan to the Inspectorate without delay.”
Town and Parish councils, residents associations, environmental groups and individuals are among those receiving the latest update on Local Plan progress.