Herts Ad Comment: Paying the price for challenge
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The waiting game has begun. Perhaps expecting a more positive response to their judicial review, district councillors are still procrastinating over their next move when it comes to the failed Strategic Local Plan.
As we reveal this week, the recent unsuccessful review challenging the Planning Inspector’s recommended withdrawal of the SLP has cost you £35,000, but that doesn’t take into account the cost of putting the flawed plan together in the first place.
Many experts in the field predicted the review would be overturned, as there was no clear-cut evidence of the council’s cooperation with neighbouring authorities. In fact, we understand minutes from one meeting which took place between SADC and another authority back in January have still not been ratified.
Politicians from all sides are naturally putting their tuppence-worth into what happens next, which could further delay any official announcement.
All the while there are developers circling over the district like vultures, looking for any vulnerabilities to exploit before going in for the kill...
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One would hope to see a positive outcome from all of this, especially as there are different people in key positions within the council’s cabinet compared to earlier this year.
For years there was a stubborn refusal to include the former Radlett airfield site, earmarked for an unpopular rail freight depot, as a potential housing site in the SLP. Is now not the right time to reassess that decision and help thwart the depot bid once and for all?
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And what of the long-awaited decision on the Oaklands College housing scheme? Will this be further delayed by the problems with the SLP?
The district council needs to give itself a hard shake and pull itself together in the wake of the judicial review, with a resolution to following the advice given and learning from the mistakes of the past.
There needs to be an open dialogue between our neighbouring authorities, with a view to establishing a housing blueprint for the whole region, not just our district. Only then will we see the necessary infrastructure to support this mammoth undertaking.
One could also argue that the cabinet, whose support of former leader Julian Daly resulted in the collapse of the SLP and this hefty legal bill, should follow in his stead and also stand down.
After all, they knew exactly what they were doing in backing Cllr Daly’s play, and should now pay the price for his decisions...