Opinion: Are local councils just going to ignore Lancashire’s regional housing plan?
Town planning found itself in the unusual position of making the headlines over the summer. Especially, if you were a Daily Telegraph reader and following their Hands off our Land Campaign.
The to-do was courtesy of the Government’s publication of the highly controversial National Planning Policy Framework.
Personally, I always felt this was a bit of a sideshow. Real planning controversy only starts when you get down to the local level.
And Government are proposing big change here too: neighbourhood planning, and abolition of regional plans.
And with the latter, you may be excused for thinking why are the Central Lancashire councils consulting on a revised Core Strategy? A Core Strategy that now works to the targets in the soon to be defunct North West Regional Plan?
This is because Inspector Richard Hollox did not feel he could approve their first attempt as “sound” unless it took on board the North West Plan’s housing targets as a minimum.
And this is what the Central Lancashire councils have done. Ironic given abolition of regional plans is being done in the name of devolving decision making to the local level.
Instead what we now have is an extra strategic site at Cottam, and two new “strategic locations” at North West Preston, and South of Penwortham and North of Farington capable of accommodating up to an extra 4,500 houses in the next fifteen years. No doubt the real hand to hand fighting will start as these proposals gain more substance.
View a map below showing the potential locations for new housing
View Potential housing development sites in and around Preston in a larger map
Although reading the consultation document, we are not convinced these new figures are going to last too long. The Housing section leaves considerable room for doubt:
“It is intended the Central Lancashire authorities will, as a matter of urgency, partially review this Core Strategy in respect of housing requirements.”
We don’t take this code for “we are going to revise the housing figures upwards!” but more of an opportunity to make a local decision, free of the regional target, at the earliest available opportunity.
This post is by Michael Wellock, director of Kirkwells Town Planning, who has worked in planning for over 20 years. These views are his own.
What do you think about the proposed locations for new homes? Let us know your views in the comments below
Image credit to jay-jerry