Date issued: 3 December 2020
An independent examination into the Tiptree Neighbourhood Plan, which aims to guide development in the area until 2033, has identified flaws and recommended that it cannot proceed to a referendum.
Representatives of Tiptree Parish Council began developing the plan in 2014. It was submitted to Colchester Borough Council in March 2020, followed by public consultation over the summer.
The plan had sought to be proactive and address as far as possible the planning challenges and opportunities facing the local community in the coming years, including allocating land for more than 600 houses.
However, following an assessment in August, the Independent Examiner, John Parmiter, has determined the plan to be flawed, stating: “Overall, I find the dominating reliance on community objectives within the Strategic Environmental Assessment process, without proportionate and robust evidence to support the spatial strategy, to be flawed. Therefore, coupled with the inclusion of a route across land in an adjoining parish, I conclude that the plan does not meet the basic conditions or the legal requirements.”
The Examiner also raised concerns that the Tiptree Neighbourhood Plan may conflict with the Section 2 Emerging Local Plan Policy SS14 and supporting Policies Map.
The Local Plan Committee will now consider a report, on 14th December, highlighting the way forward. Following that, the Examiner’s Report will be formally published together with the Decision Statement and a joint statement on behalf of Colchester Borough Council and Tiptree Parish Council.
Councillor Julie Young, Portfolio Holder for Culture & Performance and Deputy Leader of Colchester Borough Council, said: “It is deeply frustrating that the Independent Examiner has reached this conclusion. His recommendation was not anticipated by us nor Tiptree Parish Council and we are very disappointed. Despite seeking clarification on several matters, the report still does not reach a positive conclusion.
“Tiptree has worked tirelessly to develop a robust and realistic Neighbourhood Plan and has been ambitious in seeking to allocate adequate land for housing and help plan for the future.
“It seems ironic, therefore, that the Independent Examiner’s justification for why it cannot proceed is because it places too much emphasis on community objectives. Isn’t that what localism and neighbourhood planning is all about?
“He also criticises the plan for being forward-thinking and planning for future infrastructure. No wonder people complain about facilities and infrastructure not keeping pace with new housing when our hands are tied, and we cannot properly plan for it.
Cllr Young continued: “Despite this setback, we will continue to support Tiptree Parish Council to deliver a Neighbourhood Plan that can proceed to a referendum as soon as possible. The Neighbourhood Plan Group is already considering a revised Neighbourhood Plan, which all parties are determined will provide a sound planning framework for Tiptree in the years to come.”