Answers to your questions about the Local Plan process
How have we got here?
The procedure for creating a new Local Plan is tightly constrained by Government regulations and has to be supported by substantial evidence. Work on this new Local Plan started 5 years ago and in December 2017 the then Conservative administration called for landowners to propose sites for housing including Green Belt sites.
This formed the evidence base behind the "Regulation 18" consultation early in 2020, shortly after the Liberal Democrats had taken control of the Council. This consultation attracted over 4000 responses and 24,000 specific comments, all of which have been analysed.
This consultation provided important additional evidence which has supported the Lib Dem administration at Mole Valley in:
- Challenging the Government's unreasonable housing targets for our area;
- Introducing stricter and more systematic criteria to determine whether land should be removed from the Green Belt;
- Strengthening the environmental policies in line with the Council's declaration of a Climate Emergency.
This has led to the current version of the new Local Plan.
What happens next?
Subject to Council approval, this will be issued for a "Regulation 19" consultation whose primary purpose is to test whether the Plan has been correctly drawn up. This is due to be submitted with the Plan to the Planning Inspectorate early in 2022 and it is hoped they will approve it later in 2022.
Why do we need a new Local Plan?
Without an up-to-date Local Plan, development will come forward in an unplanned way and without an opportunity for local communities and elected representatives to influence the scale, location and nature of this future development. Effectively this means that landowners and developers will have a freer hand to determine what development takes place where - including on parts of the Green Belt.
Once adopted, the new Local Plan will set out a vision for Mole Valley and lay out detailed policies against which to assess development proposals seeking planning permission.