Ashfield Local Plan is ‘back on track’

NMAC11-1343-1''Coun Tom Hollis the country's youngest councillor pictured at Ashfield District Councils offices on Monday
NMAC11-1343-1''Coun Tom Hollis the country's youngest councillor pictured at Ashfield District Councils offices on Monday

Ashfield District Council says staffing issues which led to the development of its local plan being delayed have been resolved.

Last year the council voted to withdraw its local plan after a Government inspector said it was probably ‘unsound’.

A meeting of Ashfield District Council on Thursday heard that the authority must deliver the plan by 2017 or the council would lose its right to determine applications.

Councillor Tom Hollis questioned whether the planning department had enough staff to produce the plan on time.

Coun Hollis said: “The local plan is the most important document this council is producing at the present time.

“It will change the face of Ashfield as we know it forever. Possibly for the better, potentially for the worse.

“With such importance being placed on the production of the local plan by both members and local residents, what is the deputy leader doing to ensure that “staffing pressures” are resolved?

Councillor Don Davis said: “We have had staffing issues in the planning department, due to key two members of staff leaving.

“I am pleased to inform the council we have a full complement of staff within that department. This will underpin our evidence based approach.

“It is one of the hardest things you have to do as a councillor but it is something we have to do to maintain control, to provide sufficient land to meet our development needs.

“We are now at the stage that councillors must work closely with officers to meet the requirements of public examination.

“Any delays to that are more likely to be around councillors rather than staff shortages.”

He told the meeting: “We have to deliver our plan by 2017 plainly if we fail to do so this may result in the council losing the right to determine applications.

“We all agree we do want growth for Ashfield this is achieved in many ways through regeneration and one of the key points is building houses, however difficult it is to allocate those.”