On 8 May, an ABC working group approved the first draft of a policy that will form the bedrock for the consideration of any planning application that Imperial College might be minded to submit for Wye. This draft will feed forward into the Core Strategy of the Local Development Framework (LDF). That document will be debated by ABC in August before going out to full consultation under the auspices of the Secretary of State in September.
This is a very important document for Wye. It is the first draft of the policy framework against which any proposals from Imperial will be tested. That policy is firmly rooted in planning legislation, particularly that which protects the AONB. It has long been my view that this legislation gives us the best foundation for our most effective defence against any extreme depredations by Imperial. In its final form, this policy will give direct local effect to the legislation in the specific context of Wye.
Read the paper here: Core strategy
I am putting this paper up here at the earliest possible stage, to keep the community of Wye and beyond informed on this emerging policy. Paper copies will be distributed to the Parish Council and other stakeholders, including all villagers, later this month. After the LDF Core Strategy has been debated by the Council in August, it will be submitted to the Secretary of State. There will then be a period of formal consultation in September when the public can register their comments for consideration by the Secretary of State, who is expected to conduct an independent examination in public of the Core Strategy no earlier than Spring 2007. The inspector conducting that examination can recommend modifications to the document and these recommedations will be binding on ABC.
It is essential that such a key policy does its job properly and is “fit for purpose”. It is up to us as a community, to make sure it is fit for our purpose too. As I say, this paper is for information only at this stage – full-scale consultation will follow in September and I shall make sure everyone knows when that consultation begins. However, if you have any immediate comments, please let me have them and I’ll make sure they are fed directly to the LDF team at ABC.
I do stress that the creation and circulation of this draft does not (repeat, not) mean that there is an Imperial planning application poised to descend on us all. It is intended to ensure that when/if Imperial move to that stage, effective policies are in place that are firmly rooted in the legislation and directly address the local issues we have raised.
Those who attended the stakeholders’ consultation on 9 May, will have heard the SOM presenters stress, more than once, that Imperial are still a long way from that stage. According to SOM, the next key decision for Imperial is whether to proceed and, if they are to do so, in what form. That decision is presently due to be delivered in July.
SOM’s task now is to present options for the way forward. Our task is to make absolutely clear where our lines are drawn and which options are and are not acceptable to us – and why. SOM must make sure those positions are fed back to Imperial, so that any plans Imperial eventually produce take full account of our views, I shall be writing both to Imperial and SOM to make this unambiguously clear.
As always, I’ll be happy to respond to any queries or comments posted up here.