MODIFICATIONS must be made to a key document outlining growth and development in the Chester area.
But at this stage Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) has “no idea” what changes will need to be made to the Local Plan.
Government planning inspector Kevin Ward conducted a three-week public examination of the document, covering crucial issues including housing, employment, the environment, Green Belt, transport and health.
In his letter to CWaC, he said the plan can be “made sound” with certain modifications, which will “need to be subject to sustainability appraisal and full public consultation for a period of six weeks”.
Cllr Lynda Jones, executive member for growth and prosperity, said: “Given the sheer scale and complexity of a plan which will cover so many crucial issues we fully expected the inspector to identify the need for modifications.
“Indeed, during the examination process we had invited the inspector to make modifications and also submitted a number of our own recommendations to the examination hearing.
“At this stage, we have no idea what modifications the inspector will require, but we have already asked for guidance on time-scale and look forward to working
Mr Ward said the authority had complied with its legal duty to co-operate with neighbouring authorities and other organisations to develop its plan.
A key issue raised at the enquiry related to CWaC’s proposals to allow up to 1,300 new homes to be built on Green Belt land off Wrexham Road. Some said permitting the scheme would set a dangerous precedent and “open the floodgates” for other developments.
But others, including developers, said the extra housing was vital to ensure the city remains the “beating heart” of the borough. It is not known if the inspector’s modifications will relate to the Green Belt proposals.
The Local Plan is designed to shape future development and planning decisions until 2030.
See full story in the Chester Leader