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AVDC Planning Uncertainties

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The Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan (VALP) is still in a late drafting stage. Regular readers will know that this plan currently includes the possibility of creating a 'New Settlement' of 5,000+ homes and that Haddenham is one of the potential locations for this major development.

Recently, AVDC had successfully argued that the so-called "unmet housing need" of Chiltern and South Bucks district councils could not be justifiably foisted onto the Vale. This news was favourably received by those residents of Haddenham who believe that our infrastructure could not cope with major housing development beyond the 1,000 homes for which outline planning permission has already been granted by AVDC.

However, AVDC has just written to parish and town councils in the Vale to explain a further complication, which has resulted in a return to significant uncertainty. Their communication is reproduced below.

You may recall from our December update, that the housing numbers for Aylesbury Vale have reduced since the production of the draft VALP last summer.

While this was good news, there are growing concerns that the Government's much anticipated — and delayed — Housing White Paper could have greater implications for VALP. (Central Bedfordshire have already suspended work on their local plan because of these concerns). Latest indications are that the White Paper should emerge this month.

One expected change is that a new method of calculating housing need could be imposed on councils, which may affect how the five year housing land supply is calculated. As a consequence, our housing need could potentially be increased again. A recent appeal decision confirmed that AVDC has a five year housing land supply, reducing the potential for developers to gain planning consent in unsuitable locations, (whilst the five year housing land supply is in place).

Robust discussions are continuing with Chiltern and South Bucks district councils concerning their unmet housing need figures, and officers are continuing their work on key evidence documents to support the plan, such as the Sustainability Appraisal.

Taking all these factors into account, the decision has been made to extend the VALP timetable to allow for the White Paper to be fully assessed. (This had been scheduled to begin with consideration of the Submission Plan at Scrutiny on 6 March). Otherwise, the plan would run the risk of being immediately superseded. Instead, a revised timetable will be drawn up and new committee dates will be published as soon as the implications of the white paper are established.

Meanwhile, work in relation to the local plan continues in earnest and officers will ensure that any change to the timetable is kept to an absolute minimum.

As a consequence, please note the following meetings are now cancelled:

* Monday 6 March — VALP Scrutiny

* Wednesday 29 March — VALP Council

Cabinet on Tuesday 7 March is still in the diary as it was not a special VALP Cabinet.

Peter Williams
Planning Policy Team Leader, AVDC

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