Longwick-cum-Ilmer Parish Council have decided to withdraw their Neighbourhood Plan from Wycombe District Council.
The decision comes as a result of recommended changes made by an Examiner who has the power to pass, modify or reject a Neighbourhood Plan.
The Longwick Neighbourhood Plan was drawn up by Longwick-cum-Ilmer Parish Council who worked closely with planning officers from Wycombe District Council and who also employed an experienced planning consultant to guide them in the process of the plan.
The plan which was submitted set out a new settlement boundary directing new housing development to the most sustainable locations, to protect the village against sprawl and included specific policies that any future development would have to meet to ensure that development in the village would be sustainable.
The recommendations made by the Examiner in order for the plan to meet the ‘basic conditions’ essentially removes the limit to development outside of the settlement boundary and severely restricts the ability to control where and how development should take place. It also removes the need for sustainable transport to be provided before new development commences. Without this in place, the Neighbourhood Plan no longer protects the character of Longwick and does not achieve the fundamental aims and objectives that were integral to the Plan.
At present Longwick is a small village of approximately 440 homes, which offers very limited public transport, local services and facilities. Without the protection policies to direct development within the settlement boundary and provide sustainable infrastructure to support development, the Neighbourhood Plan would result in unsustainable development.
The key aims of the Neighbourhood Plan were to provide for a mix of housing which would maintain the rural character of Longwick and ensure that development would only take place with better public transport links, safer highways for people to walk and cycle; provide better community facilities and provision to support the local economy.
After advice from Wycombe District Council, the Parish Council has reluctantly decided to withdraw the plan.
This means the Examiner’s Report does not hold any material weight in the decision process for assessing planning applications. Instead, planning applications will continue to be assessed as they have been in the past against the development plan framework.
Expressing his disappointment with the decision Cllr David Johncock, the Cabinet Member for Wycombe District Council responsible for Planning and Sustainability said: ‘We’ve worked closely with the Parish Council on this for a very long time to find an acceptable way to accommodate some development within the village whilst ensuring that it largely maintains its present character and provides sustainability.
It’s therefore very disappointing that after all this work, we have had to in effect press the ‘reset’ button. We now need to see how we can somehow tack the proposed Longwick policies into the New Local Plan.‘