Public examination of Bury’s Core Strategy, the plan which seeks to guide and control development in Bury for the next 15 years, has been suspended.
At the hearings, which started last week, the council sought to argue that Bury can accommodate only 400 new houses a year without compromising the Green Belt.
However, housebuilders and developers have argued that Bury should provide for between 800 and 1,000 houses a year to satisfy housing needs in the area.
The independent inspector conducting the examination has raised concerns and indicated that the council needs to do more work on its evidence to justify its approach. He has today (24 June) suspended the hearing.
Councillor Sandra Walmsley, cabinet member for resource and regulation, responded: “People in Bury want us to protect the Green Belt, and we have brought forward a plan which reflects those views in the light of increasing developer pressures to release green fields in some of the most attractive parts of the borough. Developers already have permission to build 3,000 new houses in Bury but have not yet done so.
“The council has been put in a very difficult position, as Government planning guidance continues to change and seeks to force local authorities to find more and more land for housing to increase house-building rates across the country, regardless of local constraints and public opinion.”
David Fowler, the council’s chief planning officer, added: “Bury’s Core Strategy has been prepared to meet future development needs in what the council considers is a sustainable manner.
“As such, it seeks to meet housing needs in a balanced way by protecting the borough’s environment and promoting the use of ‘brownfield’ land in urban areas. However, the inspector needs to be convinced that Bury’s future housing needs will be met – either in this borough or elsewhere –
before he can comment on the overall strategy. Accordingly, we will need to consider what work is required to provide the inspector with the information that he needs.”
The inspector will be writing to the council over the next few weeks to explain his concerns in more detail and at this point the council will need to consider how it wishes to proceed.
Press release issued: 24 June 2014.