In February 2019 East Cambridgeshire Council decided to withdraw their emerging local plan during mid‐examination. The reason cited by the council was the unreasonable modifications recommended by the Examining Inspector in order to make the plan sound.
The inspector identified a number of changes to the local plan which the council took umbrage with, notably an increase in housing numbers for the plan and including:
- ‐ Increasing the housing numbers on allocated sites;
- ‐ Deleting the policy that requires development to respect the needs and characteristics of a particular named settlement;
- ‐ Deleting the policy for community‐led development, despite this already being an agreed policy in the current local plan
- ‐ Deleting the policy for higher access disability standards
The council also noted that the changes have been required by the inspector without explanation and when coupled with other changes would amend the local plan so substantially that it would render it unrecognisable from the local plan submitted.
Another reason for the withdrawal of the plan may be due to the recommendation of the Council’s Strategic Planning Manager, Richard Kay, who, in the committee report recommending withdrawal, noted that the council had struggled to demonstrate a five‐year land supply since the adoption of the current plan. By withdrawing the plan, ironically, East Cambridgeshire would be in a better position with regards to housing land supply.
This is due to the PPG on housing and economic land availability assessment published in September last year which indicates that where a local plan is five years old the housing land supply should be calculated using the government’s new standard method of assessing housing need. This has been supplemented by further guidance which sets out how the standard method should be used. This guidance advises that the method’s affordability adjustment takes into account past under‐delivery so there is not a requirement to specifically address under‐delivery separately. As such, the backlog that has been building within East Cambridgeshire since the adoption of the local plan will no longer need to be addressed.