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Castle Point agrees to step up the pace on Local Plan


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What would a joint strategic plan mean for south Essex?

Castle Point Borough Council is to speed up its Local Plan timetable in a bid to stop central government taking over the process.
The local authority has also agreed to produce a joint spatial plan with five other local planning authorities in south Essex – Basildon, Brentwood, Rochford, Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock – and the county council.
Castle Point was one of three councils highlighted in March by the then-Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, for failing to produce a Local Plan.
He announced he would be sending chief planner Steve Quartermain to Castle Point, Thanet in Kent and Wirral in north-west England to decide whether his department would take over preparation of the Plans.
Castle Point had formally withdrawn its draft Local Plan from examination in April last year after an inspector concluded it had failed to meet its duty to cooperate.
And last month, more than a year on, Castle Point met to confirm that a new timetable would spark the first stage of consultation on the draft Plan this month, with publication of the first draft in November.
After further consultation, submission of the document for examination is planned for April 2019.
The report seen by councillors last month suggests that some Green Belt will need to be considered for housing development.
It also clarifies that the new Secretary of State, James Brokenshire, needs to be confident that Castle Point will prepare its Local Plan to an accelerated timetable and tackle potentially awkward housing issues. If he is not, will order that others – such as the county council or consultants – will take it on at a cost to Castle Point.
Councillors also accepted a statement of common ground prepared by the Association of South Essex Local Authorities, guiding the preparation of a joint strategic plan for south Essex.
Consultation is planned to begin in January next year, with adoption in autumn 2020.