On 15th February, I attended an exploration meeting with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate, who was outlining their initial opinion on the Grantham Area Action Plan (GAAP) as submitted by South Kesteven District Council (SKDC).
I had received notice that this meeting was going to be held through a local councillor, and then subsequently found the published article on the SKDC website, and when I arrived there were quite a few people in attendance, including the team from South Kesteven that had drawn up the plan.
The purpose of this meeting was for the HM Inspector to outline their opinion on the GAAP, and advise the council on what steps they can now take to improve the plan, withdraw the plan, or ask the HM inspector to make changes to the plan. The meeting was extremely interesting and I am sure that all in attendance, including the employees of the council, found it very useful. There will be an additional post published about the meeting once I have received the notes.
However, when the invite for the meeting was published, a note to the council was also published. In this note the Inspector outlined a few concerns around the site allocations process used by the council.
On Site Allocations & Policies
- “I have seen no objective evidence to explain why some Local Service Centres have been chosen to receive housing allocations whilst others have not”.
- “On the face of it, the ‘traffic light’ system employed seems relatively crude and it is not entirely clear how it has been employed”
- “There appears to be no obvious way in which sites which have generally similar characteristics have been objectively weighed against one another”.
- “If I found that the site selection process employed in the Site Allocations and Policies DPD was fundamentally flawed, the changes necessary to address the issue could involve a substantial re-write of the DPD”.
This appears to show the HM Inspector is not happy about the way the site allocation has been conducted, and that SKDC have not provided a rounded explanation as to how they have decided on the sites in question. When we look at recent controversies over site allocations in Stamford, questions should now be asked about how these decisions are come to?
The Inspector has also highlighted that if the process employed by the council is fundamentally flawed, then a re-write of the GAAP could be in order, as the changes that would be necessary would be outside the remit of “modifications” that can be made by the HM Inspector. This could lead to further delay in delivering what is vital strategic leadership from SKDC.
Grantham has already suffered over a decade of delay with a number of plans and very little to show for it. We may now be finally understanding why that is.