A Government Planning Inspector has ruled that Runnymede Borough Council's draft Local Plan is 'sound' and can be adopted, subject to accepting a number of modifications, if councillors choose to do so.
If it is approved by councillors on 16 July, the Runnymede 2030 Local Plan will be the key document guiding future development of the Borough up to 2030 in planning terms, and the policies used by the Council to make decisions on planning applications will change.
The Local Plan sets a vision and objectives for the Borough, in line with the Council's Corporate Business Plan and:
- Details the type of development needed to meet the needs of local people and those seeking to move into the area, as well as businesses and other key organisations.
- Sets out where development should take place as well as identifying key areas that should be protected.
- Contains policies making clear the approaches to delivering housing, employment, retail, leisure, community uses and activities and infrastructure as well as in relation to the protection of the environment.
Listening and consulting
All district and borough councils in England are required to have an up to date Local Plan, and the content of Runnymede's document was shaped following four rounds of public consultation in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
This resulted in more than 4,000 comments being received by the Council, all of which were reviewed by staff working on the plan.
The Council then submitted the Runnymede 2030 Local Plan for a formal public examination in July 2018. The Government inspector was appointed to consider the 'soundness' of the plan, based on criteria in national planning policy.
During the examination process, the Inspector took into account comments made through the public consultations. Debates were also held on the principal matters identified by the Inspector, at public hearings which took place in 2018 and 2019.
In January 2020, the Council held a further public consultation on modifications which the Inspector put forward.
Following these consultations and discussions, the Inspector has now written to the Council confirming that subject to the modifications listed, the Council's plan meets the relevant tests set out in national planning policy.
The Inspector's report supports:
- the overall amount of housing and employment development in the Plan,
- the proposed locations and sites for new housing and employment development,
- the policies put forward by the Council to protect and enhance the Borough's built and natural environments, and
- the Council's commitment to providing critical infrastructure in a timely manner to support growth.
The report also concludes that the "duty to cooperate" with other bodies has been met, and that the Plan meets all the relevant legal requirements.
On 16 July, Runnymede's councillors will be asked to decide whether to adopt the new Local Plan. The agenda, reports and associated documents will be published here on 8 July.
The Inspector's report, the final schedule of modifications and other examination information can be viewed here.
Reading the inspector's report
The report and related documents are available at the above link, but at present the Council cannot provide hard copies for the public to inspect at the Civic Centre or libraries as they are closed to the public in line with the Covid-19 lockdown measures.
If you know anyone without internet access who needs a printed copy, they can contact the Planning Policy team by writing to: Planning Policy Team, Runnymede Borough Council, Civic Centre, Station Road, Addlestone, KT15 2AH or calling 01932 838383.
Should the Civic Centre and libraries re-open to the public during the six week period that the Council is required to make the report and accompanying Schedule available for inspection, staff will ensure they are displayed in these locations.