Local plan set to enter final stages

A planning document which will ensure that Northumberland is a place where people want to live, learn, work and visit is about to enter its final stage of production.

The ‘publication draft’ of the Northumberland Local Plan will be considered by Northumberland County Council’s cabinet next week, and full council in January, before it is made available for final  public scrutiny, then submitted to Government.

It is an ambitious plan which promotes growth within the county - but not at the expense of the Green Belt and the special environmental character of Northumberland.

It sets out strategic planning policies and planning principles for the whole county, the general scale and distribution of new development, and the detail of where new homes, workplaces and facilities will be located.

Since the council withdrew the previous Core Strategy in July 2017 very fast progress has been made in development of this new Local Plan and by May 2019 it will be submitted to the Minister for Housing, Communities and Local Government for examination by a Local Plan Inspector.

The new plan will ensure that all communities are supported by adequate services, facilities and infrastructure including housing, education, transport, health, social care, sport and recreation.

It is predicated on an ambition to support the delivery of additional, better paid and higher skilled jobs in the County, and to provide homes to meet not only the needs of the resident population, but also to accommodate the needs of people moving into Northumberland.

It will extend housing choice and aims to ease pressure on low income families and those priced out of their own communities.  A level of affordable housing will be required in all new developments - the percentage determined by housing values in that area.

Northumberland has an ageing population, and supported housing for the elderly will be promoted in line with the council’s public health agenda.

The overall housing numbers have been much reduced from the previous core strategy, which the new administration withdrew last year, with 17,700 proposed over the plan period as opposed to 24,000 previously.  There will be no new housing allocations in the Green Belt.

Quality of design in new developments has been highlighted as a high priority in the plan and policies around this have been brought together in a new chapter.  Along with the publication draft plan the council is publishing scoping documents for a Design Guide for Northumberland and a Highways and Transportation Design and Delivery document - which together will provide developers, landowners and applicants with holistic design principles, guidance and good practice.

Councillor John Riddle, cabinet member for planning and housing at Northumberland County Council said:  “Progress has continued at pace on producing this new Local Plan for Northumberland - and we are well on track to have it adopted and in place in just over a year.

"We have produced a plan which is properly evidence based and we are confident will pass at the examination stage.  We have worked closely with teams in Government during its preparation, and a recent overview has highlighted no major issues to address.

“We are committed to ensuring that everyone with an interest in this plan has the opportunity to have their say to help shape the future of the county and this final phase of public consultation will provide a final opportunity for people to review the details.”

Councillor Richard Wearmouth, cabinet member for the economy said:   “This new plan shows our ambitions for the future economic prosperity of Northumberland.  

“It will deliver additional, better paid and higher skilled jobs in the county.  We plan to build on existing strengths while also diversifying and realising the potential of the rural and visitor economies.

“The plan links well with our economic strategy for the county and provides both a portfolio of high quality employment sites and supports the development of high quality office accommodation at locations across Northumberland.

“New in this version of the plan is specific recognition of the continued importance of military-related activity as a source of employment.”

Councillor Wayne Daley, deputy leader and cabinet member with responsibility for training and skills added:  “The plan will deliver a growing and thriving county in line with not only our aspirations as a council and national planning policy, but also with the ambitions of the North of Tyne Combined Authority, the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and the Borderlands Initiative.

“Devolution is offering us a great opportunity to improve the skills of people in our region - getting the workforce up to speed and supporting our aspirations through this plan to develop and diversify our economy.  

“So, in  a relatively short space of time since our decision to withdraw the previous plan we have made excellent progress on a plan that will see Northumberland grow and flourish - a plan that is truly fit to address our future needs.”

The publication draft local plan will be considered by the county council’s cabinet on 19th December and full council on 9th January  If approved it will be open for public consultation between 30th January and 13th March 2019.

You can view the cabinet papers and local plan documents here.


This formal and statutory stage of consultation relates to ‘tests of soundness’.  The plan has to be ‘positively prepared, justified, effective and consistent with national policy’.  Responses must relate to whether the plan is sound in these respects.

The council will run over 20 public drop-in events at venues across Northumberland during February and March - and the details of these will be available online and in a leaflet delivered to homes and businesses in advance of the drop-in events.  

The plan will also be available in local libraries and information centres across Northumberland.  Comments will be able to be made online or in writing to the council’s planning policy team.

To find out more about the local plan visit www.northumberland.gov.uk/localplan
 
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