Here for Hereford responded to eighteen of the sections in the Council’s Pre-Submission Publication (PSP) Core Strategy (2011-2031). They paid close attention to Planning Inspector Guidance. The local plan must be based on a strategy which seeks to meet objectively assessed development requirements, deliverable over the Plan period and underpinned by a credible evidence base. In each of their Representation Forms, Here for Hereford conclude that Herefordshire Council will not be able to demonstrate at an Independent Examination by the Planning Inspectorate that their PSP May 2014 Core Strategy is sound.
It appears that Here for Hereford is not the only organisation that considers the Plan to be unsound, as currently drafted. There are rumours that even the Council recognises there are problems arising mainly from the absence of a pledged 5 year Housing Land Supply, and continuing uncertainties over the deliverability of major infrastructure projects. The promised strategic housing sites will not be able to come forward for planning permission if the required water from rivers designated Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) is still in an excessively ‘unfavourable condition’. A Nutrient Management Plan (NMP) is supposed to bring the rivers back into acceptable levels of sustainability, but there are difficulties associated with getting the NMP under way. Natural England still voices its opposition to the Hereford Relief Road. The Highways Agency has no plans to support it. The Planning Inspectorate called for an alternative ‘Plan B’ without a relief road.
What substantial changes to the PSP Core Strategy did Here for Hereford recommend in their Representation Forms?
1. the removal of the environmentally damaging and financially ruinous Hereford Relief Road proposal
2. an objective testing of the alternative stand alone ‘No Road’ option in the transportation proposals for Hereford
3. a commitment to subject all ‘growth’ plans for the county to Sustainability Appraisal
4. a reduction in the proposed 16,500 new dwellings to be built during the Plan period to reflect more realistic population growth levels than those used in the Core Strategy PSP.
5. a clear and concise commitment to building on brownfield sites first before encroaching on the countryside
6. a more enthusiastic and distinctive approach to the provision of affordable housing
7. a greater recognition of the need to use strategies to cope with Climate Change, rather than just pay lip service to them.
If Climate Change had been taken more seriously in the past, perhaps the Council’s record on maintaining clean air in its towns and clean water in its rivers would not be so dismal.