2011 - 2031
Of course HCS is pleased that there is now a Core Strategy in place for the County. We submitted comments and appeared at the Inspection in 2015 and some of the detail is shown, for record purposes, below.
Our particular criticism of the whole procedure is the weight given to private and pulic companies, not resident in the area, to input into the process. Iy is not easy when the process is complicated and involves many interdependant reports. Further, it is of concern that the Nutrient Management Plan has been excluded from the Strategy.
Much has been missed that could have been included, for example, inclusion of a minimum number of two bedroomed houses on sites of more than twenty houses.
UPDATE JANUARY 2020
The five year annual review of the Core Strategy is underway, albeit somewhat delayed due to change of the Herefordshire Council’s membership. This will be a long and arduous process – refer to the Council’s website for updates.
Of particular concern to HCS is the moratorium on all planning applications in the River Lugg Catchment Area. This is likely to have major implications for the Core Strategy.
See article in PLACE Winter 2020 - click HERE
Further responses to Planning Inspectorate have been submitted. HCS remains concerned that without a plan the way is open for unsuitable developments relying on the National Planning Policy Framework. John Faulkner writes:
"SS3. It is noted that the proposed Nutrient Management Plan will "mitigate" the adverse effects on the Wye. My dictionary's definition of mitigate is "make milder or less intense or severe". ie the Nutrients Management Plan does not solve the problems of the river and therefore the Sustainability Appraisal (SA)is diplomatically confirming our worries abouit the NMP. It could be worth saying our worries have not yet been dealt with. Mitigation comes into the SA quite often.
SS2, The previous "likely significant positive " effect on Objective 6 of the SA in relation to access to cultural, leisure and recreational facilities is now deemed "uncertain" mainly because the modifications have the effect that provision of open space in connection with housing proposals may not be applied in all cases,
SD1. The SA assessment on historic environment is now said to be "uncertain" as there is no specific reference to historic environment.
ID1 Infrastructure The comment on Infrastructure delivery now says "The policy wording is now briefer and does not include much detail about the nature of the infrastructure that will be delivered to support new development"
The comment in Appendix 2 on SA objective 18 "Minimise local and global pollution and protect or enhance environmental resources" reads as follows " Policy SS3 seeks to ensure that sufficient residential development takes place over the Plan period, and therefore a negative effect is expected on SA objective 18. However, the policy also ensure that there will be no significant adverse effects on the integrity of the River Wye Special Area of Conservation (SAC) which is likely to have specific positive effects on protecting and enhancing the quality of watercourses and therefore the overall effect is likely to be mixed."
Without a proper NMP this statement seems to me to be at best wildly optimistic and at worst just plain wrong."
February 2015 - CORE STRATEGY EXAMINATION 10.2.15 – 25.2.15
HCS continues to be concerned by the contents of the Core Strategy and the conduct of the Inquiry. A single Inspector is chairing the proceedings and taking her own notes. John Faulkner and John Bothamley have attended on several days, and contributed to the “debate”. The sheer complexity of the strategy and the myriad supporting documents makes it difficult to contribute positively.
It looks as though the Inspector will be sending the proposals back to the Council with some strict instructions. Our concern is that further delays will ensue and the County will have to rely on the NPPF for guidance rather than Herefordshire’s preferences for the type and place of new development.
With teams of consultants from housing developers contributing it is intriguing that locals were only represented by a few dedicated lobbyists, pursuing their own personal agendas, albeit representing local groups. Here for Hereford was most involved and well researched together with IOC.
Below are some pertinent notes taken by John Faulkner from the first few days.
We asked whether the examination is valid as Minerals and Waste not being dealt with?
Inspector says Yes as changes in government policy imminent.
Boundaries are not defined. Definition of Hereford. Evidence base not complete
New University not included.
Demand for affordable housing is higher than assumed – effect on CIL Section 106
Effect of Neighborhood Plans (NPs). Once approved they determine development and limit options.
Development in Ross and Ledbury limited by AONB.
Inspector says need a statement from HC on protection of countryside and detailed policies that exist at present.
Debate on trajectory of housing programme. Developers wanted more front loading, emphasized absence of 5yr land supply, pointed out present rate of completions poor.
Inspector wants housing programme broken down by years and site and more information on how HC will arrive at 5yr land supply..Is present programme realistic and deliverable with the inadequate infrastructure?
Feels HC have not tackled the practical issues
Complaints re late issue of Statements of Common Ground and updating of web site
More debate on trajectory of housing and discount and buffer allowance.
Inspector wants more information before end of examination.
Debate on infrastructure restraints on housing figures eg water supply, roads, education, transport, financing etc.
Inspector wants HC to set out for each housing site the infrastructure requirements programme, when, how, costs, sources of financing and by who delivered and what happens if requirements not met. Policy SS3 not clear enough. What confidence should she have in figures?.
Interdependence of housing and WRR.
HC asked to clarify sources of funding. Ashcroft claims Strategy is financially viable.
When asked by JBLF the Inspector confirmed this is a major change to Strategy document and it would have to go to future public consultation. (JBLF comment.This will delay approval of Strategy)
More doubts expressed on CIL Section 106 income.
Inspector asked what confidence she should have on 5year landsupply?
Possible discrepancy between NPs and Strategy on sites and numbers of houses.
Inspector wants clarification as present statements not robust enough.
Many villages already met their quota but Ashcroft says NPs do not have a specific cap. Mathews disputes.
Numerous complaints on late issue of new documents and amendments.
Nutrient Management Plan
There was a long debate on this. Phosphate levels are below the limit through Hereford are at the limit between Hereford and the Lugg and above requirements in the Lugg. The Lugg levels are such that it would seem that no more houses should be built in Leominster until solution to treatment problem solved. There appears to be no guarantee it can be solved.
EA said that suitable treatments were being developed - these appear to be very expensive. CPRE raised costs of development and who paying?
CPRE said the present NMP does not produce certainty and has major effect on infrastructure.
EA says ‘dealing with a process not a plan’ and have to be responsive to changes
Inspector clearly worried on whether implications have been considered sufficiently and effect on strategy if solutions delayed or not possible eg Leominster housing. ’None of us know if problem solvable’.
Major problems with control of agricultural waste and effluents and absence of proper drainage plans.
Policies HD 1 to 6. Hereford.
Debate brought out need for much better definition of boundaries between city and surrounding parishes as many of strategic housing sites cross the present boundaries and so affect NPs.
It was acknowledge that the Hereford Area Plan would effectively be a NP but time to produce could range from 18months to 4 years
HC said they would do further work on definitions and Inspector requires statement by 20.2.15 on timetable and effect of slippages in that timetable.
Developer contributions for each site can be assessed relative to overall requirements. HC say they will clarify.
Reference to University and effect on population and housing
Question raised on future of football ground. At present a planning black hole. Needs a mention and vision for future. HC said present policy was to support the club and improve facilities.
HC told to produce a list of proposed modifications to Strategy by 20.2.15
HCS Response to the Consultation on the Core Strategy 2011 – 2031 including response to Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) preliminary draft consultation.
The Society is much concerned about
the consultation process
the complicated questionnaire suggested for responses
Here is what we say in our SPRING 2013 quarterly magazine, followed by the detailed response HCS has written to Herefordshire Council detailing our position.
It is clear – the Draft Core Strategy is seriously flawed
A team of us at HCS, together with other interested groups, have been getting to grips with the plan for the future of Herefordshire, out for consultation until 22nd April 2013. Central Government demands all local authorities submit to the Planning Inspectorate a plan for infrastructure projects up to 2031. Given the state of the global economy this is an unrealistic task, but some proposals are needed so that we can attempt to plan new roads, schools and housing etc.
What is needed is a broad proposal that has an overall object, is fully costed, together with fall back positions if conditions dictate. So it would be reasonable to expect a pukka business report with baseline information [anticipated economic growth figures, etc] a pipeline of projects and easy links to supporting documents.
Instead we have 286 pages of PR narrative extolling the virtues of Herefordshire, together with poor links to supporting reports and the supporting evidence. To some extent we sympathise with officers – there is so much to cover, rules and justifications and we live in difficult times. Consultants have had a field day. Some of the supporting evidence is outstanding, or in draft, don’t we need the facts before we draft the policy? Edgar Street Grid is a classic example of clumsy procrastination working on out of date information – the property market and world economy had already collapsed by the time the deal was struck. The signs are that this will happen again with unjustified housing and no road or bridge; unless we develop a sensible, measured plan.
This draft is not that plan.
Infrastructure Delivery Plan - Risk Analysis – Funding Availability 7.1
“A key risk to the delivery of the infrastructure required in Herefordshire is that of funding….it is not clear …very difficult to predict…contributions from development will not ….be sufficient on their own to fund the entire infrastructure provided”.
Bear in mind the infamous Link Road, to cost £27m, is still short of £23m, and we were told would be in place before ESG opens in April 2014, to assist easy crossing of the down graded and two laned, Newmarket Street. Thousands of new homes and no new bridge is a very likely scenario.
Para 7.3:-“Even where sufficient funding for an infrastructure item may be available over the life of the IDP, it may be difficult to fund the item as early as it is required. A lack of accessible provision to meet demands of new development will mean greater pressure and consequential reduction in service at existing facilities” (our emphasis).
How can a valid plan for new development admit that it will damage existing infrastructure?
This means more unrepaired potholes and more expense for the future. And no mention of the refurbishment of the Butter Market, or the talked about Transport Hub at the Station!
Housing is referred to in Para 3.1 – “16,500 new dwellings by 2031” and Para 3.3 –
“by 2031 there will be 22,450 more people”. If we presume the extra people will inhabit the new 16,500 dwellings, these new homes will on average house about one and a half people. Some inhabitants of the existing housing stock will transfer to new properties, but it does seem that the two statistics don’t marry up.
HCS believe our submission highlights just how complicated this strategy business is. The eye has been taken off the ball, too many consultants’ reports, too many rules, all conspiring to halt positive development; too many changes of emphasis. And the consultation survey running to over 80 questions, to be completed on line, will deter all but the most conscientious.
Personally I’m backing the new Chief Executive, Alistair Neill, quoted as saying ‘we should be concentrating more on core services and performance and less on structure’. He went on to say that previously there had been too much work on strategy for strategy’s sake and not enough on potholes.
Letter to Herefordshire Council
PO Box 4
11th April 2013
Hereford Civic Society response to HEREFORDSHIRE LOCAL PLAN. DRAFT CORE STRATEGY 2011-2031 CONSULTATION.
We are responding to this consultation by letter as the pro-forma questionnaires with their “tick-box” format are not suitable for setting out the comments and objections that we have. These are set out below and follow the numbering of the Draft Core Strategy. SPECIFIC STATEMENTS ARE SHOWN IN CAPITALS TO HIGHLIGHT OUR CONCERNS.
We would emphasise that we fully recognise the importance of Herefordshire having a Local Plan and Core Strategy in order to satisfy the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and so retain some control over planning in the county. We sympathize with Council officers who have to consider a huge number of regulations and processes but worry that this document is too much like an essay and not precise enough in its cross referencing. However, we are, regrettably, STRONGLY OF THE OPINION THAT THE PRESENT DOCUMENT AND SUPPORTING EVIDENCE ARE NOT “SOUND” and so will not meet those requirements. NOR DO WE BELIEVE THAT MANY IMPORTANT PARTS OF THE PLANNING INSPECTORS FRONT LOADING VISIT OF MARCH 2010 HAVE BEEN TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT. (Highlights from this report are shown as an appendix below).
While it is clear that a very considerable amount of time and money has been expended in producing the documents, their extent (the main core strategy document of 256 pages, the 44 items of supporting evidence which includes documents of over 600 pages) is such that it is impossible for any ordinary citizen of the county to absorb this mountain of material let alone comment on them; neither does a short visit from a promotional trailer comprise proper consultation. THE QUESTIONNAIRE IS TOO COMPLICATED FOR MOST CITIZENS TO CONTEMPLATE COMPLETING; AND DOES NOT MEET GOOD PRACTICE IN SEEKING A RESPONSE FROM THE ELECTORATE.
We have restricted our comments and objections to a limited number of what we consider to be key items.
REQUIREMENTS OF NPPF.
We have examined the Strategy against the requirements of the NPPF and the guidance given by the Planning Advisory Service as to whether the Strategy can meet the major requirement of being “sound”. WE BELIEVE IT IS NOT SOUND AND IS NOT SUITABLE IN ITS PRESENT FORM AND CONTENT TO PUT TO THE PUBLIC ENQUIRY STAGE
Requirements of the NPPF that we consider are not met:-
1) The Plan/Strategy to be effective and deliverable. IT IS NOT – SEE BELOW.
2) Other parties necessary to implement the Plan (e.g. Welsh Water, Western Power Distribution, Highways Agency) have been ‘signed up’. WE CAN FIND NO EVIDENCE THAT THEY HAVE GIVEN FIRM COMMITMENTS – only vague statements.
3) There must be evidence of participation by the local community and others having a stake in the area. Early and meaningful engagement and collaboration with neighbourhoods, local organisations and businesses is essential.
While over the last few years there has been a continual flow of consultations on a number of subjects, the extent of participation has been small due to their complexity culminating in the present document and supporting evidence which are not conducive to effective consultation and participation. THIS REQUIREMENT HAS THEREFORE NOT BEEN MET.
4) There has to be a Legal Compliance checklist – WE CANNOT FIND THIS
5) There should be no gaps in the policies and supporting information. There is a major gap with the absence of an updated Local Transport Plan. Coun. Hamilton’s introduction states “In addition to this you will see the newly agreed Local Transport Plan (LTP) for 2013/14 and 2014/15…” IT IS NOT THERE AND IS NOT AVAILABLE UNTIL LATER THIS YEAR. Without this how can the Transportation proposals be demonstrated as viable?
6) Para 173 of the NPPF says “Pursuing sustainable development requires careful attention to viability and costs in plan-making and decision-taking. Plans should be deliverable.” and para 177 states” It is equally important to ensure that there is a reasonable prospect that planned infrastructure is deliverable in a timely fashion” WE DO NOT CONSIDER THESE REQUIREMENTS HAVE BEEN MET
7) The documentation does not appear to have been updated to take account of the establishment and promotion of The Enterprise Zone.
8) Local Plans should be aspirational but realistic. The Plan may be aspirational but it is not realistic particularly in the financing of infrastructure – see below
DRAFT CORE STRATEGY
p.28 Policy SS1. The definition of “Sustainable Development” is woolly and will be very open to debate as to whether development should be approved or not and there appears to be a presumption toward approval rather than rejection of applications. WE APPRECIATE THAT THE CORE STRATEGY IS REFLECTING THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE NPPF BUT IT IS TOO IMPRECISE.
p.38. Policy SS2. The spatial strategy is “housing, economic and environmental led” -surely it is transport led because of the relief road, which is stated to be “fundamental” and being paid for by a charge on housing developers. Further THIS RANKING IS HIGHER THAN AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND SEWAGE TREATMENT.
p.42 “Given the level of growth this plan period, it will not be possible to achieve development of a high percentage of brownfield land, but this will continue to be a priority for future development proposals”. THIS SHOULD BE MODIFIED TO ENSURE MAXIMUM AND PRIOR USE OF BROWNFIELD LAND.
p.49. Policies SS4,HD5 and HD6. Transportation.
“Studies which examined the need for additional road infrastructure to serve the Hereford Enterprise Zone did not recommend inclusion of additional road links and such a proposal is not a reasonable option to include in the Core Strategy at this
This statement may well be founded on out of date studies; for example did the JMP 2009 Multi-modal study include for the setting-up of the Enterprise Zone? WE BELIEVE THERE SHOULD BE CONSIDERATION OF HOW THIS LARGE AREA CAN BEST BE PROVIDED WITH ROAD AND CYCLE ROUTES; this should be more easily financed from CIL/Section 106 Agreements than the present proposals.
HOUSING AND INFRASTRUCTURE
p.44 “Overall the delivery of the housing levels and distribution proposed in the Core Strategy is dependent upon necessary infrastructure being funded and delivered.”
Policy SS3 “The release of specific sites may be phased or delayed in order to ensure that necessary infrastructure is in place to support the new development”
p.45 “The achievement of the housing target for the plan period will be challenging, however, there may be a need to phase the release of new development in specific instances in order to ensure that appropriate infrastructure is provided either prior to, or co-ordinated with, the development. This will be particularly the case in respect of major elements of infrastructure such as the Hereford Relief Road”
p.81 A Key element of the long-term Hereford transport strategy is the requirement for a relief road with a second river crossing. This vital addition to the city’s transport network will enable the reallocation of existing highway for bus priorities and walking and cycling measures and the re-routing of the existing A49 Trunk Road (managed by the Highways Agency) removing longer distance traffic from the centre of the city.
The interdependence of these four statements, together with the financing proposal in Policy HD2, show THE PLAN TO BE UNDELIVERABLE IN ITS PRESENT FORM. The housing developers are, through the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and Section 106 Agreements, expected to fill the funding gap of £152million shown in Appendix A of the Infrastructure Delivery Plan. This may or may not be possible but this money will only be raised over the whole period of the Plan up to 2031. The Western Relief Road (estimated cost £115million), if it is to be effective in improving the city’s traffic problem, will need to be constructed and paid for in a much shorter period – so the required funds will not be available from the developers when needed. The phasing of road and housing construction do not match and the forecast improvements in the city’s traffic problems resulting from the relief road will not be available for many years to come; in the mean time additional vehicles will further effect the city’s traffic problems. Consequently THE PRESENT PROPOSAL IS IMPRACTICAL AND THE INFRASTRUCTURE PROPOSALS IN THE PLAN ARE NOT DELIVERABLE, SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORT AND TRAVEL SYSTEMS NEED TO BE IMPLEMENTED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
p.49 “Herefordshire Council’s Local Transport Plan (2011-15) sets out programmes of work …” but plan not yet available.
p.51. Health and well being. Nowhere in the Strategy or Infrastructure Delivery Plan proposals is there any mention of what the effect of the increased housing and population and an ageing demographic will be on the capacity of Hereford hospital. THIS OMISSION NEEDS CORRECTION.
p.57. THERE SHOULD BE PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO IMPROVING ACCESS TO THE RIVER IN THE CITY TO ENHANCE TOURISM AND PRODUCE A HIGH QUALITY ENVIRONMENT.
p.71 Map shows conservation areas – THERE SHOULD BE A COMMITMENT TO RE-ESTABLISH THE CONSERVATION ADVISORY PANEL, or other such body to advise, at an early stage in the planning process, proposals affecting our conservation areas.
p.168 Policy SC1 Social and Community facilities “Existing facilities will be retained, unless it can be demonstrated that an appropriate alternative facility is available, or can be provided to meet the needs of the community affected or it can be shown that the facility is no longer required, viable or is no longer fit for purpose...”
“The provision or improvement of a higher education facilities and the continuing enhancement of existing, or provision of new training and skills facilities will be actively promoted. “
While these are good objectives THE PLAN SHOULD INCLUDE A FIRM COMMITMENT TO A NEW LIBRARY FOR HEREFORD WHICH IS NECESSARY IF THESE AIMS ARE TO BE MET. Appendix A of the IDP also needs amending to show the required capital expenditure in this area as the present figure of £1.6million is too low.
p.204. Policy SD1. We welcome this policy and the commitment to sustainable design and energy efficiency which should set the standards for the housing developments proposed but, if the standard of design is to be improved over the present position, there should be an additional commitment to monitor developers’ designs closely. A DESIGN CODE SHOULD BE PREPARED FOR THE COUNTY
p.213 Effluent quality “The Environment Agency and Natural England have committed, through a formal Statement of Intent, to the preparation of a Nutrient Management Plan aimed to control and reduce phosphate within the River Wye SAC and in doing so seek to identify actions to enable additional development. The plan will identify and deliver the management actions required to achieve the conservation objectives
target for phosphate by 2027…”
If this is only to be achieved by 2027 what happens in respect of all the proposed developments in the meantime? There appear to be no assurances from Welsh Water that their capital programme matches the development programme?
p.235 Policy ID1. Infrastructure Contributions.
“However local authorities should have clear evidence about planned infrastructure, its cost, timing and other likely sources of funding to underpin their development strategies.”
DCLG guidance quoted in the Economic Viability Study states:-“Charging authorities will need to be able to show why they consider that the proposed levy rate(s) sets an appropriate balance between the need to fund infrastructure, and the potential implications for the economic viability of development across their area”.
We do not believe this has been shown as there is no clear indication of the amount and programme of funding to be raised from the CIL and Section 106 agreements, as against what is necessary to achieve the Plan, and the funding gap of £176 million shown in Appendix A of the IDP. WITHOUT SUCH CONFIRMATION THE PLAN IS NOT VIABLE.
THE EVIDENCE BASE.
Economic Development Study This study confines itself to aims rather than labour forecasts.
Local Housing Requirements Study We question the figure of 16,500 new houses over the plan period as it appears optimistic when compared with the evidence in the Plan. While there has been considerable work done on the demographic aspects we see an absence of rigour in the job forecasts and their link to the housing forecasts. For example:-
Housing Requirements Study Update March 2013.
“5.16 The labour market evidence thus suggests that there have been an increasing number of people in the county moving out of the labour force with a reduction of 6,900 people in work in the County over the past two years. “
5.19 “There are further downside macro-economic risks to current baseline forecasts linked to:
•The ongoing possibility that there is a default in the Eurozone economy which could result in a collapse in exports, a crisis of confidence and a severe credit crunch (akin to conditions in 2007) with knock-on impacts on business investment;
•An extended fiscal austerity programme resulting in protracted constraints to public sector spending post 2017, with particular implications on public administration and a risk of increasing unemployment;
•The possibility that the current downward trend in inflation stalls, potentially linked to a spike in the oil price resulting from unrest in the Middle East, which the result that consumer spending continued to be constrained.”
While the Enterprise Zone is forecast to produce 6,500 new jobs para 5.24 of the study says-
“However a recent study for the Work Foundation has highlighted a number of weaknesses of previous EZs.
The Study indicated that most of the jobs created were displaced from other areas, while experience from previous UK EZs suggests up to 80% of jobs are taken from other places.”
WE BELIEVE THAT THESE STATEMENTS SHOW THAT THE PLAN IS OVER OPTIMISTIC IN USING A FIGURE OF 16,500 NEW HOUSES AND THAT A LOWER TARGET SHOULD BE ADOPTED. The 16,500 figure appears to have come from the original Regional Spatial Strategy and is being used to justify the building of a Relief Road, for which funding is not certain, rather than a realistic forecast of demographic and jobs growth leading to a realistic housing demand forecast.
INFRASTRUCTURE DELIVERY PLAN.
Para 4.42 “Welsh Water has confirmed that there are sufficient water resources within their administrative control to meet growth demands without the need for new strategic infrastructure through their Draft Water Resources Management Plan. “
This may well be so but there is no guarantee they will meet the proposed development programme with the problems that will bring as can be seen from:_
Para 4.51“Should such works be required then it may be necessary to phase new development within time-scales set by these programmes.”
The same applies to the “phosphate” problem.
Para 4.86. See our comments above under Policy SS1
This risk analysis demonstrates clearly that the Plan as at present drafted is not viable financially and could even lead to a deterioration in existing conditions. eg
Para 7.1 :-“A key risk to the delivery of the infrastructure required in Herefordshire is that of funding. At the time of preparation of the IDP, it is not clear that all funding needed through to 2031will be available while recognising that over a 20 year period, the shape of public sector funding is very difficult to predict. The high level viability analysis in Chapter 5 concludes that contributions from development will not, with current market conditions, be sufficient on their own to fund the entire infrastructure provided.”
And Para 7.3:-“Even where sufficient funding for an infrastructure item may be available over the life of the IDP, it may be difficult to fund the item as early as it is required. A lack of accessible provision to meet demands of new development will mean greater pressure and consequential reduction in service at existing facilities” (our emphasis) HOW CAN A VALID PLAN FOR NEW DEVELOPMENT ADMIT THAT IT WILL DAMAGE EXISITING INFRASTRUCTURE?
Appendix 1 This demonstrates the enormous funding gap that exists in the proposals including even those which are due to be constructed in the early period of the plan such as the City Link Road (a £21 million shortfall). There are large gaps in forecasts of expenditure and in the programme.
John Bothamley, Chairman, Hereford Civic Society
Treferanon, St Weonards, Hereford, HR2 8QF
Planning Inspector’s (Mary Travers) Note
PINS LDF Frontloading Visit
Herefordshire Council 8 March 2010
1. It is expected that about 50% of the cost would have to come from public funding and this raises doubt about whether the relief road proposal is deliverable. Deliverability is a key component of the soundness of a development plan document and therefore the difficult questions raised by the relief road proposal for Hereford need to be addressed openly and fully in taking forward the CS to publication stage.
6. The relationship between relief road phasing and other `softer’ transport measures to accommodate growth should be made clear, and realistic alternatives should be tested, so that the chosen option is properly justified.
7.Thirdly, given the importance of the transport solution for the implementation of the CS as a whole, there needs to be sound answers to the key delivery questions about any proposed relief road (who will provide it, when it will be provided, how it will be funded and which, if any, sections of it will be prioritised). While the housing growth will take place mainly towards the end of the CS plan period, these questions need to be addressed now and as much certainty as possible should be built into the CS.
Other Infrastructure and the Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP)
9. There are concerns about the difficulty of obtaining information from some of the infrastructure providers and the implications for the level of detail required to support the CS. The POS Enterprises report gives good advice on this point. I can confirm that the examining Inspector will expect the Council to take all reasonable steps to secure agreement with the infrastructure providers so that, at least for the earlier part of the plan period, there can be reasonable certainty that the key items of infrastructure will be available when required.
11. I agree that the broad location approach seems appropriate in Herefordshire’s circumstances, especially given the complex issues that remain to be resolved and the timescale for delivery of housing. Whichever approach is selected, the general advice applies that a CS should be realistic and deliverable, acknowledging any significant risks and setting out contingency measures where appropriate.
13. In terms of timing of this work, it should be clear how the findings of the AA, which is an iterative process, have influenced the selection of options in the CS. As paragraph 5.2 of the above guidance makes clear, it is not open to authorities to undertake a retrospective assessment of decisions in a plan…….. Therefore I encourage the Council to continue its efforts to seek early agreement with the providers/regulators on these matters.
15. The Council recognises the need for a readable, concise document with strong visual appeal. I agree with the Council that good use of photographic and other illustrative material is important to convey messages in an attractive and easily understood way. It is also usually very helpful in reducing the length of the final document and cutting out repetition if one editor has overall control of its content.