23 June 2014, The Cherwell Local Plan Examination was suspended on 4th June 2014. The presiding Inspector has confirmed that the examination hearings would be suspended for a period of 6 months, whilst the Council prepares and consults upon proposed modifications to the Plan. The primary focus of the modifications will be to increase the planned level of new housing development in the District with a view to meeting the full, up to date, objectively assessed needs of the District.
The Council has indicated that it considers the increase in new housing needed, can be achieved without the need for significant changes to the Local Plan strategy, vision or objectives. Cherwell Council has also advised that they do not feel that an immediate review of the Oxford Green Belt is necessary – although an early review of the Local Plan is likely to be required, once the process for considering the full strategic planning implications of the 2014 Strategic Housing Market Assessment have been fully considered (jointly) by all of the Oxfordshire Councils.
The proposed timetable for Main Modifications to the Cherwell Local Plan indicates:
• Preparation of evidence base, formulation of main modifications: 6th June to 11th August 2014
• Proposed main modifications to Inspector: 11th August 2014
• Consultation on proposed main modification: 18th August 2014
• Review of consultation responses: 29th September 2014
• Full Council meeting re. main modifications: 20th October 2014
• Submission of main modifications: 21st October 2014
• Examination hearings: 9th December 2014
Ian Gillespie, Partner, commented, ’Cherwell District Council are not the first local planning authority to be asked to reconsider their planned level of housing provision – and they won’t be the last. There are interesting times ahead, with West Oxfordshire, the Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire District Councils all seeking to adopt new Local Plans over the next few years, and needing to be able to demonstrate that they have worked together under the duty to cooperate’.