Concerns wait for plan review could open door to 'aggressive' development

Breckland Council. Picture: Ian Burt

The concerns were raised at a meeting of Breckland council's cabinet on Monday September 20, 2021 - Credit: IAN BURT

A councillor has raised concerns that a period of three years in which a policy document could be out of date could open the door to “aggressive” housing development.

At a Monday meeting of Breckland District Council’s cabinet, deputy leader Paul Claussen said a policy in its Local Plan needed reviewing.

Paul Claussen, who is preparing to stand in his sixth election as a Conservative councillor, said it

Breckland council's Conservative deputy leader Paul Claussen - Credit: Breckland council

A council report says that due to “a number of changes which have occurred since the Local Plan was adopted”, one of its policies is outdated, and needs reviewing - but doing so will only bring the plan up-to-date until 2024.

A "substantive review" of the entire plan is proposed for completion by 2027. 

Independent councillor Roger Atterwill said: “We find ourselves in a situation where our existing local plan policies will not hold weight, possibly for a period of up to three years before the new plan is adopted in 2027.”

He then asked: “What that will mean for communities in terms of aggressive development applications coming their way?”

Council officer Simon Wood said: “We’ve responded to circumstances that are largely outside of our control and have come forward with a solution which we think is responsible.”

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He said the policy review was only one of “a suite of things that contributes to decision-making” on planning applications and the council remained “in a robust position for some years to make decisions based on the development plan".

Mr Atterwill also told Mr Claussen he was surprised a working group of councillors hadn’t been consulted on the proposals before Monday’s meeting.

He said: “I think that’s a little bit arrogant to be honest, and I’d like to know why that working group wasn’t consulted.”

Breckland councillor and Swanton Morley Parish Council chairman, Roger Atterwill, is concerned about

Independent councillor Roger Atterwill - Credit: Archant

Responding, Mr Claussen said: “What we have is officers coming... wanting this paper to come to this cabinet meeting.

“There was only just enough time to get it through the process, so I had to take the decision, which an executive member is allowed to take, and many councils have only the executive member having oversight.” 

Mr Claussen later said of Mr Atterwill: “He’s the only councillor in my entire time here that makes personal comments and I would just like to say what Margaret Thatcher said - when you get personal, it tends to show you’ve lost the policy argument.”

The cabinet then voted to proceed with the recommended timeline for the policy review and substantive review.