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Clark backs Maldon over local plan wrangle

Published: Thursday, 17th March 2016

Communities Secretary Greg Clark has sided with Maldon District Council which last year took issue with the planning inspector examining its local plan.

When the inspector issued his initial findings [on the plan] he concluded the strategy was unsound because its stance on sites for travellers wasn’t consistent with national policy.

The council claimed the inspector’s interim findings were neither balanced nor proportionate and complained to Communities Secretary Greg Clark. He subsequently directed that the plan should be submitted to him for approval. The inspector involved has since retired.

Clark has written to the council agreeing that “it was not proportionate for the inspector to find the whole plan unsound because he had not examined the whole plan.

The SoS acknowledged that the inspector was correct in his analysis that the local plan policy on travellers’ sites was deficient. But he said the inspector was wrong not to give the council an opportunity to remedy the problems.

Now Clark has announced he will appoint a new inspector to consider the local plan “and all the currently available written and audio evidence from the initial hearings and to then reach their own view on what further evidence is needed, including any further hearings”.

Councillor Mrs. Penny Channer was chair of the council’s planning committee throughout the local plan preparation period.

She said: “Maldon District Council feel vindicated by the response by the Secretary of State, as we felt we had submitted a robust plan”.

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Roger Milne