Another Core Planning Strategy Unsound?

The City of York’s Core Strategy has been criticised by an independent planning inspector, David Vickery. From his initial reading of the strategy he had “significant concerns regarding its compliance with the legal requirements and its potential soundness”.

The Inspectors note said “ the strategy for the amount and distribution of development needs to be clear and based on a robust justification. It also needs to be realistically deliverable. I am concerned that this may not be the case with the submitted core strategy”.

In July 2011 the overview and scrutiny meeting was warned by a member of the public, that Herefordshire Council’s own report, published just that month (Economic Viability Assessment by Roger Tym and the Three Dragons June 2011), showed that the future plan for the county was “not realistic”. This was mainly due to the high costs of the infrastructure required to support a housing growth, which in Hereford alone was anticipated to grow by nearly 30%. Part of the original infrastructure costs of £560million over the 16 years of the plan, included £130m for a Western Inner Relief Road but no extra funding for increasing capacity at Hereford Hospital. Since then, Herefordshire Council have marginally reduced the housing requirements of the county to 16,500 homes, but this will reduce contributions from developers and mean that local rate payers will have to pay for more of the infrastructure themselves, either directly or through Council borrowings. No revised Economic Viability report for the reduced housing figures was produced to accompany the council’s “Revised preferred option”, which went out to consultation in September 2011. This means local people have not had the opportunity to consider how they want their public money to be spent.

At a meeting on Friday 16th March, Here for Hereford members and volunteers, were told by Forward planning officers that the cabinet members of Herefordshire Council have been fully informed that the Revised Preferred Option had been described by 2 important government bodies, the Environment Agency and the Highways Agency as “unsound” and Natural England expressed that they “have to consider if the CS (core strategy) is legally compliant and meets the relevant tests for soundness”. However, the forward planning team stated today that they had not felt that any other councillors, which included a briefing of Group Leaders on 27th February 2012, needed to be informed of these comments concerning the lack of soundness of the Council’s future plans. The officer present stated that their is no intention of making other councillors aware of these concerns, even though full council was asked to approve further funding of £300,000 for relief road studies in the budget for 2012/13.

If you would like to read more on the York Core Strategy soundness please go to



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