A draft planning document that will shape the future of the county up to 2036 and beyond was agreed by Northumberland County Council yesterday.
The Northumberland Local Plan promotes sustainable growth in the economy as well as expansion of choice in the housing market, but not at the expense of Green Belt and the special environmental character of the county.
The ‘publication draft’ of the plan was considered by the full meeting of the county council, and councillors agreed to its publication for final public scrutiny before submission to Government.
A Labour motion to revert to the previous development framework, which had been lined up for debate at the meeting, was earlier withdrawn.
After a lengthy discussion, Labour councillors abstained when it came to a vote on the draft local plan.
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.
The overall housing numbers have been much reduced from the previous core strategy, 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.
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 linked to house values in that area so that the most expensive areas will require the highest levels of affordable housing provision.
Northumberland has an ageing population, and supported housing for the elderly will be promoted in line with the council’s public health agenda.
Councillor John Riddle, cabinet member for planning and housing at Northumberland County Council 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 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.
“We are committed to ensuring that everyone with an interest in this plan has the opportunity to have their say and help shape the future of the county and this final phase of public engagement will provide an opportunity for people to review the final details and tell us about its soundness.”
Now that it has been approved by full council the Northumberland Local Plan will be open for a six week representation period, between Wednesday 30th January and Wednesday 13th March 2019.
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.
Along with the publication draft plan the council is publishing for consultation 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.
The council will run 23 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