Final consultation on key plan for Northumberland

Brought to you by the News Post Leader.
Brought to you by the News Post Leader.

Northumberland residents are soon to have their final chance to have a say on a key planning document for the county.

A report to Northumberland County Council’s economic growth and corporate services overview and scrutiny committee has set out the details of the core strategy of the local plan on which, if agreed, final consultation will start on Wednesday, October 14.

This will be the last chance for residents and other interested parties to have their say on the document before it is submitted to Government for independent examination and follows four previous public consultations.

The core strategy sets out the council’s priorities for Northumberland in the future, which include the creation of 10,000 additional jobs by 2031 and extending choice in the housing market. The council wants to make sure that Northumberland thrives economically and to do this it must allocate land for economic development and housing, while preserving and enhancing the county’s special environmental qualities.

This is the fifth large-scale consultation on elements of the core strategy, and at each stage the council has listened to views and comments and amended the plan taking feedback into account.

Coun Allan Hepple, cabinet member for economic growth at Northumberland County Council, said: “We are confident that we now have a strong core strategy that will give the county a sound economic future. We have looked very closely at factual information and analysis that we have commissioned to make sure that the figures in this final proposed plan are robust.

“We must ensure that Northumberland can thrive economically and through our planning policies support the creation of new jobs – and to do this we have to have more choice in the housing market. This will involve releasing some green-belt land as there aren’t enough brownfield and previously developed sites, however, this is only proposed in exceptional circumstances. We have listened to views from previous consultations and have reduced the amount of green-belt land proposed for release by around 10 hectares and are still protecting the majority (more than 99 per cent) of green belt in Northumberland.

“I hope that people will take the opportunity to look at and comment on the final plan before it goes off for independent examination. You will be able to comment on whether you feel that it is a sound plan that is able to be delivered.”

The number of new homes proposed has risen slightly overall since the last draft plan, following additional work.

The plan will be considered by the council’s cabinet on Tuesday, September 29, and, if agreed, consultation will start on Wednesday, October 14. This is a statutory consultation and all comments and feedback must be received by Wednesday, November 25.

A leaflet will be posted through every door in the county explaining the consultation and how to have your say. Twenty-three drop-in events have been arranged right across Northumberland, where residents will be able to find out more and ask questions of council officers.

The full draft strategy, all of the evidence work that supports it and feedback forms will be available on the council’s website from October 14.

Following this consutaiton, it is expected that the core strategy will be submitted to Government in March 2016, with the examination taking place during that summer. The plan could then be adopted in autumn 2016.