Dear Editor,

THANK you for reporting in last week’s Standard (August 9) that Cotswold District Council has adopted its Local Plan.

I have noticed that several members of the public continue to criticise elements of the Plan, including the timeliness of its production, and I thought that it would be useful to clarify several facts regarding our timetable.

Unlike many councils, CDC opted in 2013 to produce a single comprehensive Local Plan, rather than producing a Core Strategy followed by a series of separate documents which would have taken longer to complete.

Unfortunately, the Government’s local plan progress records do not distinguish between partial local plans and comprehensive ones, so it mistakenly appears that many councils are ‘ahead of the game’ compared with CDC when in fact they have only adopted a Core Strategy (as is the case with Gloucester, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury’s Joint Core Strategy).

Authorities that have only produced partial plans still have a long way to go before they complete a comprehensive Local Plan, incorporating a development strategy, detailed site allocations and a full suite of development management policies.

Cotswold District now has a comprehensive Local Plan which, far from being the last one to be produced, is one of relatively few comprehensive Local Plans in the country that meets national planning guidelines.

Pursuing a comprehensive Local Plan has ensured that Cotswold District now benefits from a complete plan much earlier than if we had continued down the Core Strategy route. As a direct consequence, the Council can now demonstrate a healthy and enduring housing land supply which will ensure it is no longer vulnerable to predatory planning applications in unsuitable locations.

Moreover, according to Planning Inspectorate data, Cotswold District is within the top quartile for speed of completing the Local Plan examination, having taken one year from submission to adoption compared with a 2017 national average of 27 months.

Our progress through the examination has been significantly quicker than neighbouring Councils and this was largely due to the excellent preparatory work undertaken by our Forward Planning team.

Finally, I should also point out that the headline of the recent Local Plan article in the Standard (i.e. '10,000 homes will be built across Cotswolds’) has caused some confusion.

The figure is actually 9,614 homes and, as of 31 March 2017, 3,176 of that total had already been completed.

Some 5,247 more are expected to be built by 2031 on sites with planning permission and on sites allocated in the Local Plan (including 1,800 at Chesterton).

The remaining 1,191 are estimated ‘windfalls’ to 2031 - dwellings that are expected to come forward on unallocated sites. These provide flexibility to help ensure that the District’s current, healthy, housing land supply is maintained.

Cllr Nick Parsons

Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Forward Planning

Cotswold District Council