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Have your say on proposed modifications to Local Plan

Follow this link to the consultation page of the Local Plan Examination website.

Consultation starts today on proposed modifications to the Northumberland Local Plan.

The plan has been progressing through formal ‘examination’ by a Government appointed planning inspector, and this consultation is expected to be the final stage before it can be formally adopted.

Public examination hearings took place during 2019 and 2020, the inspector Susan Heywood wrote to the council in March this year to outline her findings.

She said that the local plan submitted by the council can be made sound with a series of agreed modifications, and the forthcoming eight-week consultation is an opportunity for people to comment on these.

The inspector has requested that the council consults on the modifications which she considers are necessary to ensure the soundness of the plan. She will then take account of the responses to this consultation before reaching her final conclusions.

The modifications comprise technical matters and some changes that have already been proposed by the council during the inspection process, along with main modifications identified by the inspector in her post hearings letter.

The modifications proposed by the inspector are:
  • removing the safeguarded land allocation for employment at Prestwick Pit near Ponteland and retaining this as Green Belt; 
  • proposing substantial planting around the boundaries of employment sites that will be released from the Green Belt at Harwood Meadows, Prestwick Park and Prestwick Pit; and 
  • a commitment to undertake an early update of the plan in relation to assessment of the need for open space, sport and recreation facilities and the justification for protected open space sites.
In addition to the main modifications the council is also inviting comments on the following:
  • A schedule of proposed modifications to the Local Plan Policies Map
  • Sustainability Appraisal of the Main Modifications and Policies Map changes
  • Habitats Regulations Assessment of the Main Modifications and Policies Map changes
  • Additional evidence published by the Council through the examination since the last consultation held during July to September 2020.
The Northumberland Local Plan sets out a range of development proposals as well as planning policies, which will be used to assess applications and guide the location of future development in the county up to 2036.

Councillor Colin Horncastle, cabinet member responsible for planning at Northumberland County Council said: “I am very pleased to see what we expect to be the final consultation on the draft Northumberland Local Plan getting underway and hope that all those with an interest will look at the modifications and let us have their views.

“We look forward to getting the plan finalised and adopted, and for it to begin to drive the sort of future that we want for Northumberland.

“The new plan reflects modern approaches to tackling important challenges like climate change and enhancing biodiversity. It also seeks to raise the profile of good design and support more active lifestyles through better facilities for walking and cycling.”

Comments are invited on the main modifications and other matters from today, Wednesday 9 June, until Wednesday 4 August 2021, with full details available on the examination website which is linked from www.northumberland.gov.uk/localplan

Comments should be submitted using the form provided on the website and should relate only to the main modifications and not other parts of the plan.  There is no need to repeat any previously submitted comments as these have already been passed to the inspector.  
Comments can also be sent by email to planningstrategy@northumberland.gov.uk or by post to Planning Strategy, County Hall, Morpeth, NE61 2EF.

While the council encourages people to access the consultation documents online, it recognises that not everyone will have the means to do this.  Officers will be available to explain the consultation by telephone or e-mail, and a USB memory stick containing the full set of consultation and associated information documents can also be provided. 

Subject to Covid-19 secure safety guidelines, hard copies of the consultation documents can also be viewed, by prior appointment only, at the main reception at County Hall, Morpeth.  To make an appointment, please call 01670 620003 or 01670 620004. 

All comments on the consultation documents will be passed to the inspector for her consideration, and final conclusions on the soundness of the plan will be set out in a subsequent report.  

If the Local Plan is found to be ‘sound’, subject to necessary modifications, it can be formally adopted by the Council.  

Follow this link to the consultation page of the Local Plan Examination website.

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