Northumberland residents, businesses and local groups have until midnight on Wednesday to have their say on a key planning document for the county, before it is finalised and submitted to the Government for independent examination.
The core strategy sets out the council’s planning priorities for Northumberland in the future – which include policies to support the creation of 10,000 additional jobs by 2031 and extending choice in the housing market.
The strategy defines the amount of development needed in the next two decades for future jobs, houses and facilities, as well as where these should go. It supports the economic and housing growth aspirations of the North East devolution deal – increasing the number of new homes in the region and aiding economic development.
Important policies that will conserve and enhance Northumberland’s distinctive natural and historic environments; ensure connectivity and infrastructure are delivered; support community well-being; and help to effectively manage natural resources are also included.
Future planning applications will be decided based on the policies in the strategy.
Consultation opened on October 14, and, in line with Government rules, comments must be made around the soundness of the document, whether it has been positively prepared, is justified, will be effective and is in line with national policy.
This is the fifth large-scale consultation on 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: "I would like to thank everyone who has attended an event or provided us with their comments and feedback so far. We will be looking carefully at all of these comments as we move towards the version of the plan that will be submitted to Government for independent inspection.
"At each consultation stage we have listened carefully to what people have to say and have amended the strategy where we can. 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.
"We need positive intervention to ensure that the county is sustainable into the future and this will involve releasing a relatively small amount of green-belt land in some places where there aren’t enough brownfield and previously developed sites. This has only been proposed in exceptional circumstances and we have reduced the amount of green-belt land previously proposed for release by around 10 hectares, following consultation. We are still protecting the majority (more than 99 per cent) of green belt in Northumberland."
At the start of the consultation a leaflet about how to have a say was posted to every address in the county. Twenty-three drop-in events have been taking place right across Northumberland, where people have been 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 are available on the council’s website. Responses must be received by the council by midnight on Wednesday. Following this consultation 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.