The High Court challenge to the Joint Core Strategy was not about a minor procedural error. The consideration of reasonable alternatives is a fundamental part of the EC Directive on Sustainability Appraisal and therefore failure to do so was a unlawful. They don’t care, who can stop them?
The Councils appointed their friends to produce an answer which suits them and then put it before the GNDP. The discussion consisted of a 15 minute presentation and then the Leader of Norwich City Council proposed Option 1; the status quo. It was nodded through by the Leader of South Norfolk, because he was terrified that any other option would lead to them taking more housing. The Chairman gratefully accepted the solution and it was passed….. By three councillors, speaking supposedly for their councils who have yet to be told what is going on. So much for the charade that the individual Councils take the decisions.
So what about the consultation which should follow? The public consultation timetable is only on the GNDP website. Clearly the full elected Councils are being denied a say on this important matter. The GNDP timetable allows just 8 weeks for public consultation, four of which fall in the school holidays.
Their rush to judgement is a reflection of the paucity of their arguments.
The Judge in issuing the High Court Order stated in his final decision of 25 April (2012) that leaving the total housing numbers in the Joint Core Strategy did not prevent full argument on the North East Growth Triangle – and that if that leads to changes to the housing total for the JCS area, then as he wrote ‘so be it’.
What chance is there of that? These Councils need all the houses they can get to provide the CIL and NewHomes Bonus income. It has nothing much to do with housing needs at all, its Council greed.
We are not seeing a great rush of house building. There is currently permission in the Norwich Policy Area for 10,000 houses which have not yet been built and little sign that most of them will be in the immediate future.
Since adoption of the JCS in March 2011, there have been a number of changes which would support a housing review:
- the East of England Plan will be revoked legally soon by the Localism Act.
- introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework makes a number of statements relevant to this case.
- local plans must reflect the vision and aspirations of local communities.
- local plans must contribute to sustainable development;
- local plans must be aspirational but realistic;
- local authorities must meet a 5yr housing land supply – they exacerbated the problem by the unreasonable scale of development.
We look forward to a sensible debate in Broadland today and the fall of this unviable, unreasonable and undemocratic project.