North Warwickshire meets its Duty to Cooperate
Image by Peter Black2007 of Flickr
11th June 2013
In a letter to North Warwickshire Borough Council’s Forward Planning and Economic
Strategy Manager, the Planning Inspector examining the Local Plan concluded he was satisfied the borough had met its legal requirement with regard to the duty to cooperate.
The inspector has also outlined a number of examination progress next steps he would like a report on, including: implications for the Core Strategy of the emerging Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment, the Employment Land Review and the initial results of the Strategic Housing Market Assessment, with a completion date of September 2013.
Planning Inspector Anthony Thickett, said “A number of representors point to alleged shortfalls in the number of new houses and employment land and argue that this demonstrates a failure to engage constructively with neighbouring authorities. To my mind, most of these representations relate to the merits of the Core Strategy and raise issue of soundness. As I indicated at the preliminary meeting, at this stage I am limiting my considerations to whether the Council has satisfied the legal duty to co-operate as set out in Section 33A of the Localism Act 2011.
The Council is criticised for allegedly concentrating on housing matters in its dealings with its neighbours and others. However, the Duty to Co-operate statement and the supplementary submission outline how NWBC engaged with other authorities, statutory undertakers and service providers on a range of strategic issues.”
Of the representatives from Birmingham City Council, Coventry City Council, Lichfield District Council, Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council and Tamworth Borough Council, only Coventry City Council and Nuneaton and Bedworth were satisfied that North Warwickshire had engaged at an appropriate level given the particular circumstances of their relationship and the stages reached in their assessment of their own needs.
Birmingham City Council wrote to North Warwickshire in 2012 suggesting that it may not be able to accommodate its future housing needs within its own boundaries.
Although the two Councils disagree on the exact wording, North Warwickshire have proposed a change to the Core Strategy to indicate that they will work with Birmingham to undertake an early review of the Core Strategy if provision is required in the Borough.
The Inspector’s final conclusion of the North Warwickshire Borough Local Plan was to say: “I am satisfied that the evidence submitted to the examination demonstrates that NWBC has met the legal requirement with regard to the duty to co-operate.”
The Borough now have until September 2013 to produce the reports set out by the Inspector and if the finding point to a need for significant revisions to the Core Strategy, the Council will be recommended to consider withdrawal.
The progress of the examination beyond September 2013 will depend on the results of the surveys. Nevertheless, the Inspector feels it appropriate to proceed to hearings until the SHMA is completed.
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