Northumberland’s new Local Plan – a 20-year framework for development in the county – has been approved for public consultation.
The first draft of the key planning document, which covers issues such as housing, employment and infrastructure for the period from 2016 to 2036, was unanimously backed by the county council’s cabinet last night.
A six-week consultation will open on Wednesday, July 4, and run until Wednesday, August 15. During this period, the council will run 23 drop- in events at venues across the county (details below).
Housing numbers have been much reduced from the previous plan with 17,700 proposed over the plan period, or 885 a year, down from 24,000.
Policies will ask for a minimum of 20 per cent of all new homes to be affordable and make provision for accommodation with support for older people and vulnerable adults.
There is also a specific policy aimed at limiting second and holiday homes in ‘any parishes with 20 per cent or more household spaces with no usual residents’ by only supporting new homes for principal, or permanent, residence.
It has taken less than a year to produce this draft following the new Conservative administration’s controversial decision to withdraw the core strategy – a major element of the Local Plan – last July.
At yesterday’s meeting, council leader Peter Jackson praised officers for their hard work in getting to this point and said he was confident that the authority would meet the deadline set by Government.
Earlier this year, the Secretary of State warned that the plan should be in place three months earlier than billed, although it still won’t be in place until March 2020.
Coun Jackson explained that the new plan was necessary as it was felt that the withdrawn core strategy was ‘not robust’ in terms of evidence for the housing numbers proposed and that too much green belt was being sacrificed.
Coun Nick Oliver, cabinet member for corporate resources, said that he welcomed the focus in the new plan on economic activity in rural as well as urban areas – the document includes policies and proposals aimed at creating up to 15,000 new jobs in the county.
After the meeting, Coun Jackson added: “Through the plan we want to make Northumberland an even greater place to live, work and visit.
“The revised plan is ambitious, using the latest evidence as a proper basis. We are optimistic about the prospects for our county and we will make sure that Northumberland does work for everyone and for all of our communities.”
However, the Labour opposition, which was in power when the previous core strategy was drawn up and submitted, has described the new plan as ‘so damaging to the interests of communities across Northumberland’.
Labour leader Grant Davey said: “Through this strategy the Tories are forcing through, they’re creating a county for old people, with no growth plans, setting the county on the path towards economic decline.”
When the consultation starts, everyone with an interest in the plan will be able to view it online and in local libraries or information centres. People will be able to make comments online or in writing to the council’s planning strategy team.
For more information, visit www.northumberland.gov.uk/localplan
Details of drop-in events:
Wednesday, July 11, 2pm – 7pm, Trinity Methodist Church, Hexham
Thursday, July 12, 2pm – 4.30pm, Allendale Library; 2pm – 7pm, Bell View, Belford
Friday, July 13, 2pm – 7pm, Amble Development Trust offices
Saturday, Jul 14, 10am – 3pm, St James Community Hall, Alnwick
Monday, July 16, 2pm – 7pm, Berwick Town Hall
Tuesday, July 17, 2pm -7pm Hirst Welfare Centre, Ashington
Wednesday, July 18, 2pm – 7pm, Haydon Bridge Community Centre
Thursday, July 19, 2pm – 7pm, Buffalo Centre, Blyth
Friday, July 21, 2pm – 7pm, Parish Council offices, Seaton Delaval
Saturday, July 21, 10am – 3pm, Prudhoe Waterworld
Monday, July 23, 2pm – 7pm, Choppington Social Welfare Centre
Tuesday, July 24, 2pm – 7pm Corn Exchange, Morpeth Town Hall
Wednesday, July 25, 2pm – 7pm, Ponteland Memorial Hall
Thursday, July 26, 2pm – 7pm, Jubilee Hall, Rothbury
Friday, July 27, 2pm – 7pm, Bedlington Community Centre
Saturday, July 28, 10am – 3pm, Concordia Leisure Centre, Cramlington
Monday, July 30, 2pm – 7pm Cheviot Centre, Wooler
Tuesday, July 31, 2pm – 7pm, Corbridge Parish Hall
Wednesday, August 1, 2pm – 7pm, Newbiggin Sports & Community Centre
Thursday, August 2, 2pm – 7pm, Seahouses Sports & Community Centre
Friday, August 3, 2pm – 6pm, Bellingham Library
Saturday, August 4, 10am – 3pm, Haltwistle Library
Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service