Final adoption of Northumberland Local Plan now in sight
02 Mar 2021 ARCHIVED (over 3 months old) - view latest news
The next steps in securing a finalised Local Plan for Northumberland are being put in place.
Northumberland County Council is mapping out what are expected to be the final modifications to the plan, after receiving positive feedback from the Planning Inspectorate.
The Northumberland Local Plan is currently in its examination phase, after a draft plan was submitted to Government in May 2019.
The coronavirus pandemic has inevitably had an impact on timescales, but examination hearings were completed ‘virtually’ by Susan Heywood planning inspector in November 2020, and she has now written to the council with her findings.
She has said that the submitted local plan can be made sound with a series of agreed modifications.
These modifications will 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.
In her letter, Susan Heywood said: “I have now considered all of the Council’s proposed main modifications and, without prejudice to the outcome of consultation on them and the conclusions of the final report, I am satisfied at this stage that they are all necessary to address soundness issues and will be effective in so doing.”
Councillor John Riddle, cabinet member responsible for planning at Northumberland County Council said: “This post hearings letter from the planning inspector is good news for the progress of our plan, and I look forward to its early adoption.
“We are content with the proposed modifications and the team is now drafting them so that we can get the details agreed with the inspector. After that we will carry out a sustainability appraisal and habitats regulations assessment on the modifications, before arranging an eight-week public consultation.
“The inspector will then consider responses to the consultation, and the council’s response to those, before issuing her final report.
“As we are approaching adoption of a robust and sound Northumberland Local Plan for Northumberland, I would like to thank everyone in the team for their dedicated work. Everyone's commitment has resulted in a local plan being turned around in record time.
“As in many other areas of council work, the coronavirus pandemic has produced its challenges for the planning team and for the inspector, but we have moved forward positively, and the final adoption of a plan for our county is now in sight.”
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. The Inspector does not consider that Green Belt release is required to meet identified housing needs in the county during the period covered by the local plan.
The new plan reflects modern approaches to tackling important challenges like climate change and enhancing biodiversity. It seeks to raise the profile of good design and supporting more active lifestyles through better facilities for walking and cycling.
The modifications proposed by the inspector in her letter, and which are now being drafted 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.