Stevenage Borough Council takes legal action to move Local Plan forward

01 Feb 2019

Stevenage Borough Council announced today it will be requesting a Judicial Review into the temporary Holding Direction of its Local Plan. The Stevenage Borough Local Plan was submitted to the Secretary of State on 21 July 2016 and received a positive Inspector’s Report in October 2017 recommending its adoption. Today, it  remains under a temporary Holding Direction which means the council cannot progress its plans to modernise Stevenage.

The council has launched Judicial Review proceedings to address the delay and obtain a clear response from government. 

Sharon Taylor, Leader of Stevenage Borough Council said: “I am calling on the Secretary of State to release the Stevenage Local Plan with immediate effect, and support us in building new homes, creating jobs and regenerating our town. We have worked closely with residents, different organisations, and local groups to have a clear Plan for the town.  These conversations started back in 2012, with several stages of consultation so that everyone can have their say.  Having a clear Plan in place is vital for the town, to protect our open spaces, offer new homes for our families, provide space for new jobs, and to help revitalise crucial parts of the town.  

“A government-appointed Planning Inspector agreed that the Stevenage Borough Local Plan is sound and with minor wording changes endorsed the council to sign off the Plan.  However, in November 2017, the government put in place a temporary legal order to stop the Council adopting the Plan, so that the Secretary of State could consider representations from the local MP.  This has caused a delay of over 14 months, affecting plans for jobs, homes and the regeneration of the town.  We have worked closely with government colleagues to provide information to support a swift decision from the Secretary of State.

“It is with real regret that our only option is to start legal proceedings.   It remains my hope that we will see a positive response, and my door always remains open to find the best way ahead. I remain passionate and confident about Stevenage’s future.  We have started to see new homes being provided, with over 168 new Council homes completed towards our target of 500.”

Following the imposition of the Holding Direction, the council provided detailed information to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) with all questions responded to by the start of last year. The reasons behind the ongoing delay still remain unclear.

Stevenage’s proposed local plan, will replace the previous plan that was adopted in 2004, it sets out proposals for regenerating the town centre, creating employment opportunities and revitalising neighbourhood centres as well as allocating sites to build around 7,600 new homes across the town by 2031, including at least 25% affordable homes. The plan is crucial to enabling development within the town.