05:00PM, Wednesday 02 August 2017
Consultation has been extended for the Borough Local Plan (BLP) Regulation 19 following concerns from residents.
The council launched the consultation on Friday, June 30 and had been repeatedly telling residents to comment on the ‘legal and technical soundness’ of the plan, with a deadline of Friday, August 25.
But today it announced the consultation will now run until Wednesday, September 27, and residents will be able to comment on all aspects of the plan.
The BLP is a planning blueprint which will run retrospectively from 2013 to 2032 and unites development policy for a range of areas, including housing, retail, employment and leisure.
The sudden extension follows legal advice issued from John Hobson QC, of Landmark Chambers, that the borough’s approach to the process was ‘unduly restrictive’ and ‘misleading’.
Leader of the council Cllr Simon Dudley (Con, Riverside) said: “We want to make clear that no other changes are being made to the BLP: 2013-2033 Submission Version, or supporting documentation which continues to be available for inspection online, in borough libraries and parish offices.
“We have decided to extend the period for making Regulation 20 representations (to the Regulation 19 consultation) following queries from residents and local resident groups who were concerned that our earlier press releases and library communications about Regulation 19 did not accurately explain the procedure.
“We want to be clear that Regulations 19 and 20 in no way restrict the nature of the representations that any person can make to us about the plan.”
At a full council meeting last week, Cllr Dudley said council barristers were looking over legal advice issued to them and their response would be published on the borough website.
However he said today he had been advised not to.
He said: "My preference was to make the legal opinion public but our counsel has advised otherwise.
“Though we are unable to publish the actual document the advice given to us as a council is reflected in the press release sent out today."
RBWM Residents Action Group (RAG), which campaigned for the Regulation 19 consultation to be restarted, said it welcomed the extension but still opposes the current BLP.
A spokesman said: “We welcome the borough’s recognition that their current communications surrounding Reg 19 BLP consultation were felt to be misleading and unlawful and acted to deter residents from commenting on all the issues that concern them. We also welcome the extension of the deadline.
“We are deeply disappointed though that the borough have decided against any review of the BLP itself. RBWM RAG remains strongly opposed to this plan and will continue to campaign for a new plan to replace it, produced in consultation with local residents.”
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