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Local Plan Examination: Overview

On 27 September 2018, the South Cambridgeshire Local Plan was adopted and the Adopted Policies Map was agreed for publication.

The Local Plans have been found sound: 3 September 2018

The independent Inspectors appointed to examine the Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire Local Plans have written their Final Reports, published on Monday 3 September 2018.

The Inspectors’ Reports conclude that the Cambridge Local Plan and the South Cambridgeshire Local Plan (see below) are sound and provide an appropriate basis for the planning of the area, provided that a number of main modifications are made, which are detailed in their reports.

The Inspectors have considered responses received during these consultation periods, and all other matters raised throughout the Examination period, in reaching their conclusions.

A copy of the Inspectors Report into the South Cambridgeshire Local Plan was available to view at South Cambridgeshire Hall, Cambourne Business Park, Cambourne, Cambridge, CB23 6EA.

Following receipt of the Inspectors’ Report the Examinations of both Local Plans have now concluded. The South Cambridgeshire Local Plan was presented to a Cabinet meeting on 24 September 2018 before a final decision on adoption was made at a Council meeting on 27 September 2018.

Inspectors Report documents

Previous stages of the Examination

Main Modifications to the South Cambridgeshire Local Plan and Cambridge Local Plan

Public consultation on Main Modifications to the South Cambridgeshire Local Plan and Cambridge Local Plan (and associated Sustainability Appraisal of the Main Modifications) ended at 5pm on 16 February 2018.

The Statement of Consultation provides a summary of the representation received.

The representations (in full) received were submitted to the Inspectors undertaking the examination for their consideration.

Submission of Further Proposed Modifications to the Inspectors: 30 November 2016

On 30 November 2016, we submitted to the Inspectors a letter [PDF, 0.2MB] and further proposed modifications relating to:

  • 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

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 [PDF, 0.1MB] and 28 July 2015 [PDF, 0.1MB], the Councils submitted the further work to address the Inspectors’ concerns including accompanying proposed modifications on the 31 March 2016 [PDF, 0.3MB].

We provided a separate letter [PDF, 0.2MB] 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 [PDF, 0.3MB], Cambridge City Council advised the Inspectors that they would 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 [PDF, 0.1MB] on 20 May 2015 outlining some preliminary conclusions following the joint hearings and further work required to support the Local Plans. 

The Council's responded [PDF, 0.2MB] 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 [PDF, 0.2MB] 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' [PDF, 0.1MB] on 28 July 2015. The Inspectors recognised that the Councils are taking a positive approach to addressing the concerns they 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 were suspended and asked the Councils for their views on this possibility.

The Inspectors issued a further letter [PDF, 70Kb] 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 would 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 had been completed and asked the Inspectors to keep the matter open at this stage.

We received a response from the Inspector [PDF, 75Kb] on 10 September 2015. The Inspector did 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 said 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 [PDF, 0.5MB] 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

Together the Hearings Programme and the Matters and Issues show the dates of the hearings, what matters were discussed and also who participated at the hearings.

The Inspector 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 issued Inspector Note 1 [PDF, 0.1MB] (RD/Gen/150) which relates to the context for hearings on site allocations, strategy and omissions sites at the Local Plan Examination.

The Inspector issued Inspector Note 2 [PDF, 46Kb](RD/Gen/151) which relates to appearances in relation to the Proposed Modifications representations.

A note [PDF, 26Kb] was 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.

The Inspectors and Programme Officer

The Secretary of State 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 was 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 has now reported on her findings, including advising if changes are needed to make the Local Plan sound. The Inspector was assisted by an Assistant Inspector – Alan Wood MSC FRICS – and a Planning Officer – Laura O’Brien.

Gloria Alexander was the Programme Officer who is assisting the Inspectors. All correspondence relating to the examination should be via the Programme Officer:

Laura Graham was also appointed to examine the Cambridge Local Plan. Given the close relationship between the two plans, key shared issues were to be considered by the Inspector at joint hearings.

The Examination Process

  • 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 was updated during the examination process.
  • Production of written statements - these statements were 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 held hearing sessions. Hearings were 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 were able to attend the hearing sessions to observe proceedings.
  • Production of the Inspector’s Report giving her recommendations.

Throughout the examination process there was 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]