Epping Forest local plan due in autumn after changes by new inspector

Epping Forest District Council is expected to vote on adopting a planning blueprint for over 11,000 homes this autumn, cabinet members have said

A final six-week public consultation over the council’s local plan is set to happen in August after modifications were made by a new planning inspector.

According to a council report, more work needs to be done to satisfy new inspector Jonanthan Bore that a five-year housing land supply will be available when the plan is adopted.

Council leader Chris Whitbread (Con, Epping Lindsey and Thornwood Common) said at a cabinet meeting on Monday the council has been working on the plan for 12 years.

Cabinet members met to note the progress of the plan and its examination after the appointment of Mr Bore as the new inspector overseeing the council’s local plan in May.

Council officer Nigel Richardson told the cabinet: “We will get there one day. There’s a bit of frustration isn’t there that we’re going to be required to do some further consultation on main modifications, but just to make it clear officers are working very hard to deal with some of the questions that inspector Bore has raised.”

Deputy leader and place portfolio holder Nigel Bedford (Con, Shelley) said: “What was very helpful from the inspector was that he gave us a timetable going forward, and that actually he believes we can finish by the autumn of this year.”

Mr Richardson said a full council vote on adoption is more likely to happen towards the end of the autumn than the beginning.

Cllr Whitbread said: “I think we’ll all just be glad to see the local plan finally agreed after all these many years.”

According to the report, additional modifications suggested by the inspector include streamlining policies regarding air quality outside the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation and small changes to strategic masterplans and the infrastructure delivery schedule.

The council will now have to produce a new “schedule of main modifications” with the changes and submit this for public consultation.

A full council meeting will then be held, where councillors will vote on whether or not to adopt the plan.

Local plans are blueprints which councils are required to make, which set out how they will meet the government’s housing targets.

According to the emerging local plan, Epping Forest District Council’s housing target is 11,400 homes by 2033.

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Charlie Ridler

Local Democracy Reporter