The Coventry Core Strategy is a set of planning policies which will control development in Coventry for years to come. The current version has a housing target of at least 11,500 and protects the Green Belt surrounding the city.
The Core Strategy has been considered by a Government housing inspector. Two public meetings have taken place. On the 27th. February the Inspector wrote to Tracy Darke, head of Development Management, this letter with this appendix.
The letter concerns the 'duty to co-operate', which is a requirement that neighbouring authorities co-operate in drawing up Local Plans, and especially, housing targets. The Inspector does not think this duty to co-operate has been fulfilled.
He offers the Council two choices. The first is to receive his Report, which would recommend non-adoption of the Plan. This would probably mean a new Core Strategy would need to be drawn up from scratch.
The second choice is to withdraw the Plan, go back to a previous stage, and 'to enable the Council to seek to remedy any defects which have been identified. In my opinion, this would include preparing a joint SHMA (housing market assessment) with other local authorities in the Coventry Housing Market Area. This letter and its accompanying annex should ensure that those other local planning authorities will appreciate the importance of cooperating in this matter.'
That process is likely to take a year. During this time, we may be threatened by planning applications in the Green Belt, since there is now in effect no Local Plan in force, while the NPPF gives a 'presumption in favour of development'. We need to be vigilant and oppose these. We also need to make it clear to the Council that we will continue to defend the Green Belt and will not tolerate developers building large housing estates on it.
On 8 March we wrote to John Mutton, Leader of Coventry City Council, asking for a clarification of the Council's position. The letter was sent on behalf of several community groups.
Councillor Mutton's reply is very interesting. In particular, he says
"I would like to re-iterate that the Labour Council's policy of protecting the green belt and green fields is still sacrosanct"