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Housing Plans Not Ambitious Enough


10:18am 23rd December 2013

A Government planning inspector is calling two of our local council's to task over their plans to build more housing.

A meeting's being held next month over the local plan for Weymouth, Portland and West Dorset.

Leader of West Dorset District Council Robert Gould said:

"It is extremely frustrating that completion of the joint local plan could be delayed by this intervention.

"We have followed the process properly in a professional manner with our partners at Weymouth & Portland Borough Council.

"We have taken the views of local people into account following substantial public consultation and changed the plan accordingly to reflect these views where possible.

"The message we appear to be getting is that the plan is not ambitious enough in terms of housing development, but we have applied nationally recognised figures from the ONS while still respecting the views of local people where possible."

Weymouth & Portland Borough Council Brief Holder for Environment and Sustainability Ian Roebuck said:

"This is a robust plan which for the first time embraces an ambitious joined up approach to setting out a strategy for development which takes in Weymouth, Portland and West Dorset as a whole.

"It is an innovative yet challenging approach and, in ensuring we fully embrace the twin aims of Localism and the new National Planning Policy Framework, we have consulted widely and at length with local people and organisations over it. This consultation has produced clear support for most of the proposals but, equally, unambiguous rejection of a small number of them, backed up by reasoned argument.   

"We have taken these arguments on board while maintaining our clear overall strategy, and I am both disappointed and very surprised that this response to consultation appears to be regarded by the Planning Inspector as evidence of a weakness in our approach, rather than the logical conclusion to responsible involvement by our local community."

The local plan sets out a long term planning strategy for the area up to 2031 to meet future housing, employment and leisure needs.

It also looks at how climate change can be tackled, the environment protected and how future development can be made more sustainable.

It covers issues such as where housing could be built, how the economy can be boosted and what infrastructure may be needed.

Councillors also use the plan to help guide their decision-making, such as when considering planning applications.

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