The Planning Inspector conducting the examination to determine whether the Cheshire East Local Plan is sound and can be adopted has confirmed that he will be informing the Council of his interim views, which may well cause further delays.
The hearings sessions of the examination were adjoined on Friday 3 October following the need to consider the unexpectedly large volume of statements and material submitted in connection with Matters 14 & 15 of the examination (Site Allocations and "omission" sites).
The Inspector Stephen Pratt also needed to consider the various legal submissions lodged in respect of the legal compliance and soundness of the submitted plan.
Stephen Pratt said "Having considered the submitted plan, the representations, submission documents and background evidence, and the hearing statements, legal submissions, discussions and further material at the hearing sessions, I consider it would be appropriate to inform the Council of my interim views on the legal compliance and soundness of the submitted plan on the basis of the evidence and discussions so far during the examination before the hearings continue. The Council have confirmed that they would welcome such an indication from the inspector.
"Consequently, I expect to inform the Council of my interim views on the legal compliance and soundness of the submitted plan within the next few weeks, and before the expected resumption of the examination hearings in early December 2014. This will include the Duty to Co-operate and Sustainability Appraisal, economic and housing strategy, objective assessment of housing needs, spatial distribution of development, Green Belt and Safeguarded Land. However, due to the need for the Council to fully consider my interim views, it may not be appropriate to resume the examination hearings as envisaged. It may be necessary to adjourn the hearing sessions for a longer period, so that the Council can fully consider the implications of my initial views on the legal compliance and soundness of the submitted plan.
He added "In saying this, I am fully aware of the Council's ambition to put an adopted local plan for Cheshire East in place at the earliest opportunity, and recognise the implications of any further delays to the examination programme. However, it is equally important for me to consider the key issues and legal submissions relating to the legal compliance and soundness of the submitted plan before the examination hearings continue."
Stephen Pratt said he will do his best to let Cheshire East Council know his interim views as soon as he can.
See the Cheshire East Local Plan Strategy - Examination Library for the latest information.