Business Eye: Debacle is worst of all planning worlds for Vale

Alex Pratt
Alex Pratt

Probably the most significant recent event to affect the lives of residents and businesses in the Vale, with the exception of the HS2 nightmare in our midst, is the quietly announced refusal by the planning inspector to find the Vale of Aylesbury Plan ‘sound’.

On the face of it, this might seem like an unimportant bureaucratic nicety sent to keep our town planners occupied in the evenings but in truth, since the abolition of the South East Plan, the Local Plan has become critically important in so far as what actually gets built in your back yard.

The subject of housing and jobs growth is always likely to be a sore point with someone, and there is the inevitable tussle between the naysayers and the zealots in relation to pretty much every planning application.

Generally, I favour planned growth in employment, while some others don’t etc. This is simply the nature of the beast, and it is precisely why we need an agreed plan.

Without one, our communitywill be left to grow in contested fits and starts on a chaotic scheme by scheme basis.

In coming to his conclusions the Planning Inspector made clear that there needs to be more cooperation with neighbouring Local Authorities because no single Local Authority is an island.

AVDC needs to look North, South, East and West to make sure it takes our position relative to our surroundings fully into account.

The Council it seems considers us as being more part of the Milton Keynes and Luton housing market area and not Bucks.

The Vale of Aylesbury Plan being found unsound means AVDC has to start over.

This in itself will likely have serious consequences.

While a new plan is being prepared there will in effect be weaker planning defences, meaning sub-optimal development may well gain approval.

Local neighbourhood plans are likely to be adversely affected too, as overall housing growth will I suspect increase by quite some margin, perhaps as much as 50%.

Worse still, in his 2013 Autumn Statement the Chancellor trailed that the New Homes Bonus infrastructure monies may no longer be payable by a developer if their planning consent is only granted after a costly appeal.

If this happens we may have to absorb more house building granted on appeal and then won’t get the funds needed to pay for associated facilities and services.

We are in the worst of all planning worlds.