Stevenage’s status as a growth point is in question following a planning inspector’s recommendation that the borough council’s Core Strategy should be withdrawn because it is unsound. A planned 20,000 new homes are now under threat.
Stevenage was designated as a major housing and employment growth point in the former regional strategy, the East of England Plan, adopted in May 2008. At least 9,600 new homes are planned in the area of neighbouring North Hertfordshire District Council in the shape of new urban extensions to the west and north of Stevenage.
But Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has said that councils can treat his intention to abolish regional plans as a "material consideration", and North Hertfordshire has decided it will no longer be bound by the plan.
It has begun work on setting its own local housing target which is unlikely to make provision for Stevenage’s needs. The planning inspector concluded that as a result the growth of the town planned in Stevenage’s draft Core Strategy was now undeliverable.
Councillor John Gardner, executive member for environment and regeneration at Stevenage Borough Council, said:”The contents of the inspector’s report require careful and detailed consideration. Before we decide precisely what we want to do, we would like to see the progress of the Localism Bill, the long-awaited National Planning Framework and the revised development plan regulations.
“We have not made any decisions about the future development of the town following our receipt of the Inspector’s report and we will not do so before the autumn.”
The Inspector’s report, and its implications, will be considered by officers over the summer. A formal report to the Borough Council’s executive is planned in September 2011 and it is anticipated that a formal decision about withdrawal of the draft Core Strategy will be taken at a council meeting in early October.
2 June 2011