Stop Press ‘The Local Plan’: The Planning Inspector has spoken

“It is clear that the consultation did not comply with the Act and there is an unknown possibility that some party or parties could have been prejudiced. Consequently, there is a risk that the plan could be vulnerable to legal
challenge at adoption. The way to lessen this risk, by reducing the risk of prejudice, would be to carry out a further full consultation in compliance with the Council’s SCI, 2019 (as the Act requires). However, we would still be obliged to conclude that the preparation of the Plan, which ends on submission, was not legally compliant and therefore would be at risk of challenge.”

“… our strong advice is that it would be better to withdraw the Plan, undertake the additional work and consult on it in line with the SCI, 2019 and then resubmit the Plan for examination. It is highly likely that this would prove a more expedient route to adopting a sound plan. The examination process itself would be simpler, more efficient and therefore more cost effective. It would also avoid the potential of a legal challenge relating to the consultation procedure and the time and expense associated with such court proceedings. Crucially, in relation to the latter point, it would remove the uncertainty about the legal compliance of the Plan’s preparation and would allow the Council to move forward with confidence.”

Read the full interim report here, just released along with the Council’s response which you can read here.

We’ll try and summarise the main points in a separate post. HBC have also issued their own summary here, but we suspect that there are a few glum faces around the Civic Plaza or its virtual, home-based offices.

While you’re waiting, here’s a brief ‘highlight’ showing the principal author of the report, Mr Jonathan Manning, in action. Suffice to say, it was not Havant Borough Council’s finest moment.