Statement of Common Ground - Media Statement

Published Thursday 7 September 2023

The council is pleased that there is public interest in the items it is due to consider at its next meeting on 18 September 2023.

The meeting will receive a report on a decision that enables the local plan to be taken forwards, specifically on the housing needs numbers to be included in the consultation process on the local plan.

The report clearly states officer advice to members is to sign the Statement of Common Ground that will evidence how we are working with our neighbouring authorities on housing needs. This is currently set out in the Duty to Cooperate and the National Planning Policy Framework. If the council cannot evidence it has done this consideration there is a risk that it will not meet the criteria for inspection of the local plan. Therefore officers have recommended that the Statement of Common Ground be signed to progress the local plan as quickly as possible and ensure the district is protected from unwanted development, both under current rules and those that have yet to be implemented. The full details can be found in the report to council on our website.

Cllr Phil Knowles, Leader of Harborough District Council, said “Based on what we know at this time, Cabinet has collectively decided to recommend that Harborough District Council signs the Statement of Common Ground. We have considered the officer advice and have asked for more clarification on key issues, both from officers and other bodies, including the City Mayor and the Secretary of State. We don’t make this decision lightly but we have to do what is in the best interest of the district as a whole. This is not about what’s fair, it’s about what’s needed. The local plan is a vitally important document in managing the future development in the district and we need to ensure it progresses at pace. There have already been delays in this process and this decision and we cannot delay any more.

“There have been recent articles in the press on the decision council will make, about how it is not fair and that Leicester City needs to take its fair share. The city’s housing need was increased by central government to add an extra 35% on top of its own housing needs, regardless of consideration of its capacity. This central government policy is the root cause of this increased need and this is the issue that we should be tackling and not how the local council is acting. We are following all our officers’ advice to do what is in the interest of the district as a whole. If there is any lobbying to be done it should be to central government.”