Local Plan Examination
Hearings Programme: 22 March 2017
An updated Hearings Programme (version 19, 22 March 2017) has been published giving details, including dates where available, on future hearings blocks for both the Cambridge Local Plan and South Cambridgeshire Local Plan examinations. Version 19 provides updated details for the forthcoming two blocks of hearings relating to Matter SC6 (South Cambridgeshire Local Plan – Strategic Sites), Matter CC6 (Cambridge Local Plan – Maintaining a Balanced Supply of Housing), and Matter CC8 (Cambridge Local Plan – Omission Sites).
Further information will be published in due course and you are advised to regularly check for updates if you have an interest in future hearings.
Interim Findings regarding Policy NH/12: Local Green Spaces (16 March 2017)
On 16 March 2017, the Inspectors examining the South Cambridgeshire Local Plan issued a letter to the Council outlining their interim findings on Local Green Spaces following the examination hearing undertaken on 18 January 2017.
The Inspectors have issued preliminary comments on some specific proposed Local Green Spaces and have highlighted that they have serious concerns that the Council’s assessment of proposed Local Green Spaces has not been carried out with sufficient rigour nor focussed fully on the stringent criteria set out in national planning policy, which set a high bar given that Local Green Space sites enjoy the same level of protection as Green Belt land. The Inspectors also comment that the Council does not appear to have given consideration as to whether alternative designations as Protected Village Amenity Areas (PVAAs) or Important Countryside Frontages (ICFs) would be more appropriate in terms of protection to be afforded to the sites.
The Inspectors have therefore advised that they now expect the Council to carry out a review of all the proposed Local Green Spaces taking account of their comments and national planning policy and guidance.
The Council is considering the Inspectors’ preliminary comments and the specific work needed in order to respond to the Inspectors.
Submission of Further Proposed Modifications to the Inspectors: 30 November 2016
The planning inspectors wrote to the Councils on 7 September 2016 asking for clarification on the progress of a number of areas of work, including the provisional modification by South Cambridgeshire District Council to allocate land south of the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. Cambridge City Council responded on 16 September 2016 and South Cambridgeshire District Council responded on 23 September 2016, providing schedules outlining the specific work being undertaken, relevant committee dates and the target dates for submission of the work to the Inspectors.
- Policies for the proposed New Settlements of Waterbeach New Town and Bourn Airfield New Village
- Proposed allocation of land south of Cambridge Biomedical Campus
- Policies for Gypsies and Travellers
- Monitoring the Greater Cambridge City Deal commitment to deliver 1,000 additional homes on rural exception sites
- Hearing statements submitted for Matter SC5b: Delivering High Quality Homes (Development Management Policies) and Matter SC8: Promoting Successful Communities
- Strategic policies for the purposes of Neighbourhood Planning
At this stage in the examination process, modifications can only be put forward as recommendations to the Inspectors for their consideration. If the Inspectors consider that such modifications are necessary to make the plan sound, they will be published for consultation at a later stage in the examination process.
Submission of Further Work and accompanying Proposed Modifications to the Inspectors: 31 March 2016
Further to the letters issued by the Inspectors examining the Local Plans on the 20 May 2015 and 28 July 2015, the Councils submitted the further work to address the Inspectors’ concerns including accompanying proposed modifications on the 31 March 2016.
South Cambridgeshire District Council has provided a separate letter in respect of the provisional Modification to the South Cambridgeshire Local Plan to allocate land south of the Cambridge Biomedical Campus (CBC).
In a separate letter, Cambridge City Council has advised the Inspectors that they will be undertaking further work in relation to student accommodation.
Inspectors' Preliminary Conclusions: 20 May 2015
The Inspectors examining the Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire Local Plans issued a letter on 20 May 2015 outlining some preliminary conclusions following the joint hearings and further work required to support the Local Plans.
The Councils responded to this letter on 30 June 2015 proposing suspending the examination process until February 2016 to allow further work to be undertaken. In a separate letter the Councils asked the Inspectors to consider providing a single issue report on the joint trajectory and sought the Inspectors’ advice in relation to further work on the Gypsy and Travellers Accommodation Needs Assessment.
We received a response from the Inspectors on 28 July 2015. The Inspectors recognised that the Councils are taking a positive approach to addressing the concerns they have raised and they formally suspended the examinations until March 2016.
The Inspectors also said that they were considering whether it would be possible to progress the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) examinations whilst the Local Plan examinations are suspended and asked the Councils for their views on this possibility.
The Inspectors issued a further letter updating their position on the CIL examinations on 18 August 2015.
The Councils responded on 1 September 2015 to the two letters from the Inspectors asking the Inspectors if they will reconsider issuing a view on the principle of the joint housing trajectory given the 5 year land supply issues in South Cambridgeshire and sets out the Councils’ view that it would be appropriate to give formal consideration to the timing of the CIL examinations later in the year once further work has been completed and asks the Inspectors to keep the matter open at this stage.
We received a response from the Inspector on 10 September 2015. The Inspector does not consider it appropriate to reach any conclusions on the principle of the joint housing trajectory in advance of knowing the outcome of the further work that is being undertaken. The Inspector says that it is unlikely that the CIL examinations could proceed during the suspension of the Local Plan examinations due to the relationship with the development strategy.
The Councils wrote to the Inspectors on 28 September 2015 updating them on progress and confirming the overall timetable for the further work that is being undertaken.
Hearings Programme, Matters and Issues
The Inspector has issued Guidance Notes for those participating in the examination explaining the examination process in more detail.
Important information relating to the 3,000 word limit for written statements has been released - see note about statements being submitted by participants in hearing sessions.
The Inspector has issued Inspector Note 1 (RD/Gen/150) which relates to the context for hearings on site allocations, strategy and omissions sites at the Local Plan Examination.
The Inspector has issued Inspector Note 2 (RD/Gen/151) which relates to appearances in relation to the Proposed Modifications representations.
A note has been issued by the Programme Officer relating to the issues to be covered in the block of joint hearings in June 2016.
Examination of the Local Plan
On 28 March 2014, the Local Plan and its supporting documents were submitted for independent examination to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government via the Planning Inspectorate.
All representations made during the public consultation on the South Cambridgeshire Proposed Submission Local Plan between July and October 2013 are available to view using the online consultation system.
The Inspectors and Programme Officer
The Secretary of State has appointed Laura Graham BSC MA MRTPI as the Inspector from the Planning Inspectorate to carry out an independent examination of the Local Plan. Her task is to establish whether the South Cambridgeshire Local Plan is ‘sound’, taking into consideration representations made during public consultation on the Proposed Submission South Cambridgeshire Local Plan between July and October 2013. She will then report on her findings, including advising if changes are needed to make the Local Plan sound. The Inspector is being assisted by an Assistant Inspector – Alan Wood MSC FRICS – and a Planning Officer – Laura O’Brien.
Gloria Alexander is the Programme Officer who is assisting the Inspectors. All correspondence relating to the examination should be via the Programme Officer:
- email: email@example.com
- mobile: 07803 202578
- post: Public Examination Office, South Cambridgeshire Hall, Cambourne Business Park, Cambourne, Cambridge, CB23 6EA
Laura Graham has also been appointed to examine the Cambridge Local Plan. Given the close relationship between the two plans, key shared issues are to be considered by the Inspector at joint hearings.
The Examination Process
The Local Plan examination is expected to follow the format outlined below:
- Pre-Hearing Meeting - this meeting held by the Inspector explained the format of the examination.
- Publication of Matters and Issues - these are the matters and issues that the Inspector has identified to date for consideration at the hearings. The list of matters and issues will be updated during the examination process.
- Production of written statements - these statements are written by the Council(s) and objectors in response to the Inspector’s Matters and Issues and may include Statements of Common Ground.
- Hearing Sessions - the Inspector will hold hearing sessions. The programme detailing the hearings that have been identified to date has been published. Hearings are an opportunity for the Inspector to clarify and / or seek additional information on any issues relating to the 'soundness' of the Local Plan. Members of the public are able to attend the hearing sessions to observe proceedings.
- Production of the Inspector’s Report giving her recommendations.
Throughout the examination process there may be correspondence on certain issues between the Inspector and the Council; this correspondence can be found on the Post Submission Correspondence with the Inspector webpage.
If you wish to find out in more detail how the examination of the Local Plan will be carried out the Planning Inspectorate has published a useful guide: Examining Local Plans Procedural Practice.
Reference Document Library
South Cambridgeshire District and Cambridge City Councils have jointly produced a list of documents that are likely to be referred to during the examination hearings: Reference Document Library [note: this is published on Cambridge City Council's website]