Wycombe Labour has blasted the district’s Local Plan as a “rambling document that refuses to take the future of the community seriously” – and is urging Wycombe District Council to look at infrastructure more closely.

The WDC Local Plan is a blueprint outlining where 10,925 new homes will be built by 2033 and a public consultation on the proposals has just finished following “technical difficulties”.

Khalil Ahmed, chair of Wycombe Labour, said WDC needs to “think again”, adding that the council needs to plan for the impact thousands of new homes will have – including roads, services and infrastructure.

The party says despite being nearly 500 pages long, the plan only focuses on the location for new homes and criticised the council for no including details of any plans to expand capacity on the roads, in schools and other “vital” services.

Cllr Ahmed said: “Any consultation and any plans for the future should not hide from the community they seek to represent. Wycombe District Council needs to find a way to actively engage with local residents to ensure their concerns and aspirations are heard.

“We call for Wycombe District Council to acknowledge that this is the beginning of our Local Plan, not the finished item. They should take the work done so far to the county council and fill out the picture in terms of infrastructure and services.

“Only by doing this will they create an image of our area’s future that can be properly communicated to residents. Eleven of the WDC Councillors are also county councillors, so this should not be difficult.

“Equipped with a real plan, WDC should then begin a proper consultation process and take the plan to the community instead of expecting the community to come to it.”

A statement from the Labour party added: “The Local Plan is incomplete, describes unachievable objectives and contains many contradictions, particularly around the number of ‘affordable homes’ to be built.

“There are no details about the infrastructure that will be required to support the increased population – roads, schools, medical centres. There are also no details of who would construct all the new homes beyond a vague assertion that five per cent would be self-build. Both are glaring omissions.”

Full Wycombe District Council response:

The new Local Plan covers the twenty year period from 2013 to 2033 and is a requirement of national planning system, the basis of which is that we have a “plan led” system for meeting our future housing and economic needs. Without this, the Wycombe district is vulnerable to aggressive planning applications in locations that may not be the most sustainable and would not be supported by the required infrastructure.

The Plan that we have recently published and consulted on has already been the subject of very substantial public consultation over the last few years, including very extensive public consultation on a draft Plan in 2016 – the Plan we have now is the culmination of that work and discussion with local communities.

Producing a plan allows the council to identify the infrastructure that is needed and make sure that developers provide, or make the right contributions towards that infrastructure. The Plan itself sets out wide ranging and detailed infrastructure requirements that developers are expected to provide to support their development and further information is set out in the Infrastructure Delivery Plan – which is a product of very considerable dialogue with a whole range of infrastructure providers including the county council who are responsible for road and education planning.

The new local plan not only identifies locations for 10,925 new homes with the district, it also identifies locations for 21 ha of new employment development in addition to locations where road or junction improvements will be required. This means that, along with the Delivery and Site Allocations plan we adopted in 2013, we will have an up to date and comprehensive plan for the whole of Wycombe district, something none of our neighbouring Buckinghamshire authorities currently have.

The plan quite clearly sets out thresholds and requirements for affordable housing and the types of sites that will be expected to provide it. The Council’s affordable housing policy is based on an assessment of viability which factors in the previous use of land, which affects the viability. As a result some sites such as greenfield or former employment sites are required to provide 40 per cent affordable housing and all other sites 30 per cent affordable housing. As a number of sites are small or are in rural locations, they do not trigger this requirement and as a result they do not have to provide any affordable housing. The 23.5 per cent is the level calculated in the Housing and Economic Development Needs Assessment (HEDNA) in terms of the total need for affordable housing which equates to approximately 3,000 affordable homes, however, as not all sites will provide affordable housing we have set a threshold that we believe will ensure we can maximise the amount of affordable housing that is provided, by requiring a higher percentage than that identified in the HEDNA.

The Council has no control over who actually builds new housing (unless it owns the land), but a large number of the sites for housing have either developers or house builders involved with them already. In assessing potential sites for housing, wherever possible we have been in contact with landowners, developers and housebuilders to understand when sites will likely come forward for development as well as making assumptions when this has not been possible. The Plan needs to provide for a higher level of housing than we have in the past to help meet our increased needs for housing and we have made realistic assumptions about when we think that housing will be delivered.