Plans that will shape the future of Rugby have been delayed again - this time by two months.
Rugby Borough Council (RBC) announced this week that work on its draft Local Plan has been held up because Warwickshire County Council (WCC) still hasn’t supplied all the evidence needed to support the transport recommendations.
RBC described the delay as “unwelcome” but campaigners said it was good news that would give further opportunity to reconsider the scheme.
The Local Plan is the planning blueprint that sets out what land will be used for housing and business development over the next 15 years.
It includes an infrastructure plan for roads, schools, hospital improvements and more that WCC, the NHS and other agencies consider are needed to support the developments. However, WCC has not yet provided all of its evidence for transport.
With thousands of houses earmarked for south-west Rugby and near Grandborough, as well as the radio mast site, campaigners have said that congestion on the borough’s roads is a key concern.
RBC was due to have its crunch vote on the draft Local Plan on March 28 but with WCC’s evidence now not expected until mid-March, councillors will not be able to make a decision until the end of May at the earliest.
This is the second delay to the process, after a second consultation was announced in November due to an outcry over the planned increase in housing around Rugby.
RBC said the latest delay also allows it to consider how the Government’s recent White Paper on housing might impact the plan, and additional time to take account of consultation feedback.
Cllr Heather Timms, portfolio holder for growth and investment, said: “The Local Plan is a vital document for the borough, allowing us to protect land from unplanned speculative development.
“It is imperative that we are able to adopt a new Local Plan as soon as possible, but we must also make sure that the plan includes everything that it needs and is supported by the evidence. While this delay is unwelcome, we will make the most of the additional time to consider emerging Government policy and to strengthen the plan following the recent consultation.”
Campaign group Stand Against Lodge Farm Village (SALFV) welcomed news of the delay. A spokesman said: “The committee of SALFV suggested that the whole process of creating a sound Local Plan had been rushed from the outset.
“We need a plan; but, vitally, we need the right Local Plan. We do not need a plan where the infrastructure is made to fit retrospectively.
“This delay will enable officers and councillors to reconsider the whole plan in the light of the two consultations, to define properly and in detail the substantial improvements to the infrastructure (not just roads) and to institute a further consultation if they believe that significant changes in the draft Local Plan – including the removal of Lodge Farm and the reinstatement of Walsgrave Hill Farm – are required.”
If the plan is approved in May, it will have to undergo a public examination by a planning inspector. If it is judged sound it is due to be adopted in February next year.