Consult your neighbours on housing needs, Coventry Council told

COVENTRY City Council is having to revise a crucial piece of strategy policy after the proposals were rejected by a planning inspector.

Inspector Robert Yuille said the council’s core strategy document had not been thought out properly as it failed to consider the housing needs of neighbouring areas.

In 2010, Coventry had proposed building 33,500 new homes between 2011 and 2028 but had revised this to around 11,300.

However, Mr Yuille ruled the policy unsuitable because the council had failed to consider the housing needs of Birmingham City Council and Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council, both of which had objected to Coventry’s original proposals.

Coventry is now having to prepare a joint assessment of housing needs taking into account the needs of its neighbours.

A change in the control of Coventry Council from Conservative to Labour in 2010 is has singled out as one of the reasons for the conflict.

Labour pledged that it would not it would not allow green belt sites to be released for development and drafted a new core strategy based solely on Coventry’s needs.

Colette McCormack, Planning Partner at law firm Winckworth Sherwood, said: “This decision to reject Coventry City Council’s draft plan highlights the legal requirement for a local authority to consult with neighbouring authorities when preparing a Local Plan.  If they do not or are unable to show evidence of consultation they can expect inspectors to reject their draft plan.

“It is our experience at Local Plan and Appeal inquiries that Inspectors want to see evidence of the consultation between neighbouring authorities, especially where they are submitting evidence on issues such as housing numbers.”

“Local authorities should not only consult, but be able to demonstrate consultation by, for example, including the minutes of meetings and other supporting documents.  They need to be able to demonstrate that they have complied with this legal duty, which means more that just talking to an adjoining authority but showing how the adjoining authority’s issues have been addressed in the Local Plan evidence.  If they do not they face having their draft Local Plans thrown out,” she added.

Coventry City Council has said Mr Yuille had instructed it to carry out a review to reassess housing demand over the next 20 years.

The council is now working on the revision and once the new strategy is ready the proposals will be resubmitted to the Inspector for consideration.