A MAJOR planning showdown is set to go ahead between Bucks Council bosses and inspectors.

This comes after the council hit out at the “significant shortcomings” of The Planning Inspectorate’s verdict on major housing proposals for part of the county.

A hearing will take place between the two parties to get to the bottom of worries raised by inspectors after they revealed their “serious concerns” about the way the Chiltern and South Bucks local plan was produced.

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Earlier this month Bucks Free Press revealed the local plan, which includes suggestions for where more than 15,000 homes could be built in the next 20 years, could be scrapped following the inspectors’ verdict.

During the process of drawing up the local plan, Chiltern District Council and South Bucks District Council were asked to consider whether some of the 10,000 homes Slough Borough Council (SBC) needs to build could go up in South Bucks.

But the Inspectorate suggested planning bosses did not co-operate “actively” with SBC regarding its unmet housing need.

The two district councils no longer exist, so instead Buckinghamshire Council chiefs responded to the planning inspectorate slamming their findings for their “significant shortcomings.”

A hearing will take place between the new council and the Planning Inspectorate so the authority’s chiefs can highlight the “significant weaknesses” of the examiners’ judgements face-to-face.

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A letter sent from Steve Bambrick, Buckinghamshire Council’s planning guru, claimed:

  • Inspectors had ‘asked the wrong question’ about co-operating with SBC
  • Inspectors had not been accurate in their approach to the evidence
  • Inspectors had judged the council on its ability to reach an agreement with SBC, rather than its ability to co-operate.

The letter added: “Your letter correctly anticipated that the council is disappointed with your initial findings but, having considered the substance of your letter, the Council is equally disappointed with the inadequacy of the reasoning which has led you to your initial findings.

“The Council in its response to your letter will demonstrate that when the correct test is applied to the proper context, the only proper conclusion is that the duty was discharged.

“The significant weaknesses in your initial findings have demonstrated that this is not an issue which can appropriately be dealt with exclusively on paper and the council, therefore, requires that the matter and the substance of its response now be dealt with at a hearing.”

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A response from the Planning Inspectorate confirmed the hearing will take place, but suggested it could be some time before this can take place as Buckinghamshire Council bosses want to meet face-to-face, rather than online.

Following the publication of the inspectors’ verdict earlier this month, housing experts from UK Property Forums suggested Slough had ‘won the argument’ regarding the need to accommodate the homes.

Slough Borough Council’s leader James Swindlehurst also hit out at the former Bucks councils, suggesting bosses from the authorities had their “heads in the sand” over the issue.

But Warren Whyte, Buckinghamshire Council’s lead member for planning, said: “To suggest that the plan should also have accommodated up to an additional 10,000 houses for Slough is ridiculous.”

The Chiltern and South Bucks local plan has been in development since 2015 and was submitted for inspection in September 2019.

Buckinghamshire Council, as a new authority is required to put a new local plan in place for the whole of the county five years from its inception date of April 1, 2020.

A spokesperson for the council told the Free Press: “Work on this new Buckinghamshire Local Plan will start very soon but the process will be made more difficult if there is no existing up to date plan in part of the County.”