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Council chief defends Local Plan consultation process
EVERY resident should have been aware of a public consultation asking where thousands of homes and businesses should be built in the district.
That was the message from Cllr Neil Marshall, who defended the way Wycombe District Council conducted its 11 week Local Plan survey.
Cllr Mohammed Hanif asked WDC’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Sustainability if the authority would re-run the public consultation after some residents did not receive the important document through the post.
Cllr Marshall said: “No. I do not believe anyone was unaware of the consultation and we extended the period to give people time to respond.”
His comments were met with jeers and cries of “you are kidding yourself” from the public gallery inside the Council Chamber on Monday night, as Flackwell Heath residents attended to hand in a petition asking for proposals for a new M40 junction 3a to be thrown out.
Cllr Marshall said he was “surprised and disappointed” to hear some people had not received the consultation document or “do not remember receiving it" and the matter would be taken up with the Royal Mail.
But he said the postal issues affected about one percent of the population so the vast majority of residents should have got it through their doors.
Information about the Local Plan had been displayed on WDC’s website and notice boards, with the documents also available in libraries and parish council offices around the district, Cllr Marshall added.
Exhibitions and meetings were held around the area and the Bucks Free Press carried numerous stories on the proposals, including a front page story on January 31 which spilled into a two page spread, he said.
Cllr Marshall added the authority also reached out to residents in more innovative ways including on social media and by setting up video kiosks in the Eden Shopping Centre over a three day period in March.
He added: “A large number of people attended the exhibitions and we have had over 1,700 responses to the public consultation.”
A report outlining the findings of the consultation will be released in the summer, the council chief revealed.
The council may have to build between 500 and 700 new homes every 12 months between now and 2031 to keep up with growth.
Up to 400 dwellings are currently built around the district every year.
All local authorities have been told by the government to work out how many homes and jobs they require and plan to meet that need.
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