St Albans Local Plan inspection delayed until next year
PUBLISHED: 14:11 16 August 2019 | UPDATED: 14:11 16 August 2019
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An official examination of the St Albans Local Plan has been postponed until early 2020.
A week of public hearings was scheduled to be opened in mid-October by inspectors Louise Crosby and Elaine Worthington to check the housing document is legally sound.
Residents or organisations have a chance to speak about the proposals, which include nearly 15,000 new homes for the district between 2020 and 2036.
However, Ms Crosby and Ms Worthington have now pushed it back to either the week beginning January 20 or February 3, 2020.
A spokesperson from St Albans City and District Council said: "We anticipated that this was likely to happen as the inspectors have a heavy work load.
"It has been put back because of other work commitments."
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The document was submitted to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government in March, but since then there have been concerns about its progress.
In April the inspectors wrote a letter telling the council it had not sufficiently justified some of its policies or explained how it chose vast amounts of Green Belt land for development.
There are 11 large protected sites proposed for settlement and employment developments, including on a controversial Park Street spot which is earmarked for a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange.
The council has now replied in multiple documents, arguing that the Green Belt "exceptional circumstance" test had been met.
One of the documents says: "The district is wholly bounded by the Green Belt and Duty to Cooperate discussions with adjoining and nearby authorities currently show no reasonable prospect of the district's housing need being met elsewhere at this point in time."
Just over 80 per cent of St Albans district is classified as Green Belt land.
An 2016 version of the Local Plan, the Strategic Local Plan, was thrown out at this inspection stage for failing to cooperate extensively enough with neighbouring authorities.
View the Local Plan documents, including the inspector's letter and council's responses, at www.stalbans.gov.uk/planning/Planningpolicy/localplan/latestnews.aspx