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Council rejects press report regarding cost of Local Plan consultation

Published Wednesday 3 November, 2021
Last updated on Wednesday 3 November, 2021

Swale Borough Council strongly rejects the claim in a recent press report that the cost of a consultation on the draft local plan has cost more than £620,000.

The figure quoted was taken from a request for information about the cost of the local plan process.

This asked for the costs of the work undertaken to prepare the plan itself – the costs of employing the entire planning policy team who put together the local plan, IT costs, the costs of specialist reports etc – as well as the costs of writing to every home in the borough as requested by a vote of the full council, which cost just over £36,000.

Cllr Mike Baldock, deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for planning, said:

“If you bought a brand-new car you wouldn’t claim the steering wheel cost you the thousands of pounds you just paid for the whole car.

“To claim that the cost of the consultation includes the day-to-day work undertaken to review the existing local plan Bearing Fruits is a wilful distortion of the facts.

“We were asked for a press comment but with insufficient time to provide a full response.

“The costs quoted include 85 per cent of the staff budget for the entire planning policy team for the year, as well as the cost of commissioning all of the specialist reports and evidence needed to inform the local plan review.

“This covers a wider range of issues from identifying development needs for employment land, housing, retail and leisure, to setting out the baseline position for biodiversity in the borough. These – and many more - are all part of the process of putting together a draft plan along with responses to community consultation.

“We know some people disagree with the draft local plan, and they are entitled to voice their objections. But deliberate distortion of the facts does nothing but undermine faith in local democracy and pushes everyday people away from engaging with issues that affect them and their local community.”