6. The starting point is the assumption that the Council has submitted what it considers to be a sound plan. Paragraph 182 of the National Planning Policy Framework 2012 (the NPPF) makes it clear that in order to be sound, a Local Plan should be positively prepared, justified, effective and consistent with national policy. The revised NPPF was published in July 2018. This includes transitional arrangements which confirm that for the purposes of this examination the 2012 NPPF will apply.
7. I will consider all of the representations made on the Plan insofar as they relate to legal requirements or matters of soundness. I am not required to report on each and every representation individually however. In some cases, the issues I have identified may not have been previously raised in representations. Nevertheless, anyone who had made a valid representation seeking a change to the Plan, either at the Submission stage or on the Schedule of Proposed Changes, has a right to make their case in person at the hearing sessions. It is important to stress that written representations carry as much weight as evidence given at the hearing session.
8. Those who made representations supporting the Plan do not have a right to participate at the hearing sessions. However, at my discretion I am able to invite additional attendees if I consider it would be helpful to the Examination.
9. Sites that have been put forward for inclusion in the plan, but not selected by the Council, are commonly referred to as ‘omission sites’. It is not part of my role to examine the soundness of omission sites and, subject to the legal right to be heard, such sites will not normally be discussed at the hearing sessions. Sites that were removed from the WHSAP by the Schedule of Proposed Changes are also no longer considered to be part of the Plan. In practical terms, these sites are now considered to be ‘omission’ sites and will be treated as such. However, general issues of the approach to site selection and distribution of housing will be still be considered.
10. Should the situation arise that additional sites are needed, for example because one or more of the allocated sites is found to be unsound, I will look to the Council in the first instance to decide which alternatives should be brought forward for examination. This would require the Council to undertake further consultation on any alternative sites proposed.
11. It is not within the scope of the Examination to re-open discussion on matters and issues that were considered in the examination of the Wiltshire Core Strategy (WCS). In particular, this applies to the plan period, objectively assessed housing need and the housing requirement. Rather, the purpose of this examination in relation to housing provision is whether the Plan allocates sites that are sound and consistent with the requirements of the WCS.