Council “defenceless” without local plan

NEDDC. North East derbyshire council building Chesterfield.
NEDDC. North East derbyshire council building Chesterfield.

A council has come under fire for giving advantage to developers in planning matters by not formulating a local plan.

North East Derbyshire District Council’s failure to create an up to date plan – despite it being ten years since the local plan system was introduced – has put it on the back foot when making planning decisions.

A spokesperson for the Planning Inspectorate said: “A local plan is important as it forms the basis for all planning decisions. Without it the decision is, to a certain extent, taken out of the hands of the local authority.

“It identifies housing need and where development should take place, and where it shouldn’t. If there’s not a local plan in place then the authority will find it difficult to say they wouldn’t want a development.”

It spells bad news for community campaigners fighting to oppose developments in their area, and gives developers ground to bring the council before the planning inspector in costly appeals.

In one, held last month over a housing development on land off Mansfield Road in Winsick, Andrew Williamson for developer Hallam Land Management cited the council’s lack of a plan as part of an application for costs.

Jim Hughes, from the Winsick Action Group – who are fighting the development – said the council have been “left defenceless” by their failure to form a plan.

He said: “North East Derbyshire are in a position where they are getting developers coming and asking to build on greenfield land, when there are brownfield sites there and waiting to be built on.”

But he said the government has put pressure on local authorities to create the plans without adequate resources.

“They are stuck between a rock and a hard place” he added, “but they are not helping themselves by not making it a priority.”

A spokesperson for North East Derbyshire District Council, said: “We are not working within a policy vacuum as we do have some policies that we work within.

“It is however important to note that progress on the Plan has been, and continues to be, directly affected by the constantly changing legislation which has an effect on the amount of resources we have to implement this Plan.”

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