Archived press release
Date Published: 15/07/10
A statement from Councillor Carole Paternoster, Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning, on future housing growth in Aylesbury Vale
This statement was made to full council on 14 July.
Councillor Carole Paternoster, Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning, said:
"The planning inspector examining our Core Strategy has asked us, and everyone else who made comments on the Core Strategy, for initial views on three questions. These are:
• The impact on the Core Strategy of the Eric Pickles’ statement about the scrapping of regional strategies and the related housing targets;
• The impact of other changes to policy on “garden grabbing” and density assumptions; and
• His preliminary findings on growth at Aylesbury.
"Comments have been requested by 23 July. Last week the Secretary of State did in fact revoke the regional strategies and references to them in national planning policy statements. The South East Plan, and the housing numbers that formed part of it, therefore no longer forms part of the development plan.
"This does not mean that all future development will go away, or that we can stop all we are doing. Aylesbury Vale has always seen growth and has also sought to secure the advantages that growth brings with it. We only have to look at the theatre, the other developments on the south side of Exchange Street and our aspirations for the north side of Exchange Street to see how change can be a positive thing for our residents, businesses and visitors. I am sure that those investing in these high-profile town centre sites are driven as much by what the Vale could be in the future than where we are now or where we have been. Although there are few definite details available as yet, it is also clear that the new coalition government intends that funding and infrastructure should accompany growth, a position the council has also taken.
"Even with our historic support for the principle of growth, in the past we have always been told how much we should have in the district by the government of the day, a regional body or by the county council in the old structure plan days. That has ended and we now have the freedom to step back and assess for ourselves what level of growth we believe is right for us. However, this freedom brings with it responsibilities and we have to be able to justify whatever figure we decide against those who challenge that it should be higher or lower. We also have to look at what is right for the district as a whole, not just those who live in the vicinity of new development.
"Most other councils in the south east were in a position to do this when the South East Plan was formulated. However we (and Milton Keynes) were in the unique position of having just had our growth levels up to 2021 set for us by the Milton Keynes and South Midlands Sub-regional Strategy. Unlike those other councils we do not have a locally derived “Option 1” figure to fall back on. I have asked officers to do some work to establish what that figure might be. However, this information will take a while to pull together and is certainly not something I can speculate on at this moment.
"What I would say at this stage is that I believe the position is quite different in respect of the extension of Milton Keynes into Aylesbury Vale. This allocation responds solely to the requirement to meet the specific South East Plan figures and we argued through the South East Plan Examination process that such growth should be located elsewhere. The scrapping of the South East Plan strikes to the heart of the necessity for this allocation, and I am also mindful of the recent resolution of Milton Keynes Council to oppose this development. These are factors that must weigh heavily as we move forwards from here.
"I am very aware that the level of growth we do take forward is an issue on which all members will have views to express. I am therefore arranging for members to have the opportunity of debating this issue at the next council meeting on 8 September. This will allow cabinet to take account of the views of council when it subsequently considers the way forward. Any decision to formally amend the submitted Core Strategy will be a decision for council.
"In the meantime we need to make our submissions to the inspector. It would be wrong for us to do a substantial amount of additional testing of site allocation options against the now revoked South East Plan figures until we have reached a view on the level of growth we believe is appropriate for us. Our submissions to the inspector will therefore be a technical explanation about the way the current Core Strategy figures evolved and an explanation that we are reviewing our position in the light of the evolving government announcements and actions. We should certainly highlight the particular circumstances relating to Salden Chase. We will accept that the effect of this is that he will need to put the examination on hold until our position is resolved and any consequent technical and procedural work undertaken. Officers will also be addressing technical aspects of the other questions he has posed."