Public Examination in Central Bedfordshire Council's Local Plan has started Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash

Planning Inspectors investigate if Council’s Local Plan is ‘sound’

The delayed public examination of Central Bedfordshire Council’s (CBC) Local Plan opened today (21 May 2019).

Two Planning Inspectors, Matthew Birkinshaw BA (Hons) Msc MRTPI and Helen Hockenhull BA (Hons) B.Pl MRTPI, are to examine whether the Local Plan has been prepared under the requirements of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 (as amended) and associated Regulations.

The task is to investigate whether the Local Plan meets the tests of ‘soundness’ set out in the National Planning Policy Framework, which are:

  • Positively prepared
    Does the Local Plan seek to meet objectively assessed development and infrastructure requirements? This includes unmet requirements from neighbouring authorities (where reasonable) and consistent with achieving sustainable development.
  • Justified
    Is it the most appropriate strategy when considered against the reasonable alternatives, based on proportionate evidence.
  • Effective
    The plan should be deliverable over its period and based on effective joint working on cross-boundary strategic priorities.
  • Consistent with national policy
    The Local Plan should enable the delivery of sustainable development under the policies in the Framework.

A revised Framework was published in July 2018 (updated in February 2019). However, due the date the Local Plan was submitted (30 April 2018), it is to be examined under the policies in the 2012 Framework.

The Inspectors will take into account the representations submitted upon the Local Plan at pre-submission stage as far as they relate to soundness considerations. Informal debates will take place on the principal matters identified by the Inspectors.

Examination Programme

The sessions are to be held in the Council Chamber, Priory House Chicksands. The examination will run over five weeks:

  • 21-24 May 2019 – Week 1 hearing sessions
  • 11-14 June 2019 – Week 2 hearing sessions
  • 18-21 June 2019 – Week 3 hearing sessions
  • 16-19 July 2019 – Week 4 hearing sessions
  • 23-26 July 2019 – Week 5 hearing sessions

Matthew Birkinshaw said that there could be one of three outcomes:

  1. The Local Plan is found to be sound without any modifications required (an unusual occurrence)
  2. The Local Plan is found to be unsound and not compliant, but could be made sound by changes
  3. The Local Plan is found to be unsound and cannot be made sound with changes

A date for the final ruling has not been set.