Pending General Election delays Public Consultation on Local Plan

September 24, 2019 5:33 PM

Future MVThe extreme likelihood of a general election taking place later this Autumn has forced Mole Valley District Council (MVDC) to review and delay the public consultation process for the Local Plan.

During any election period Councils have a statutory obligation to enter a period of 'purdah'. This severely restricts the Council's abilities to communicate with the public and would therefore completely disrupt the planned comprehensive programme of consultation making full and meaningful dialogue with residents impossible. In discussion with the relevant officers at MVDC it became clear that the Lib Dem administration would need to delay the consultation until early 2020 in order to comply with the regulations. The delay was formally confirmed at the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 24 September 2019.

The Local Plan will provide a roadmap and guidance for all building development in Mole Valley for the next fifteen years. Central Government dictates overall build numbers and each Council is obliged to identify land to accommodate the requisite number of houses. The MVDC Local Plan has been three years in development, with the bulk of the work defined by the previous administration. Since being voted into control of the Council in May the Lib Dems have crucially sought to challenge the overall build figures with the Government. Council Leaders held a meeting with the Secretary of State's Chief Planning Officer in the summer to present the case for reducing the build numbers which threaten our Green Belt.

Councillor Margaret Cooksey, Cabinet Member for Planning states: 'Mole Valley was advised that the numbers are immovable and if we don't decide where to put the houses central Government will. It is therefore critical that all residents have proper opportunity to review and discuss the Local Plan with their Councillors and Council Officers to fully understand what the Government is telling us to do.'

Officers had already prepared a comprehensive programme of roadshows and public meetings alongside media coverage and information sheets ready to run from 21 October to 1 December. None of this could happen during a General Election period due to the 'purdah' regulations, so the decision has been taken to defer the process until February 2020.