2012: What’s in Preston council’s inbox for the first few months of the New Year

The new J. B. Firth Forensic Science building, part of the University in Preston takes shape

Bringing in a new way to recoup money from new developments is on the 'to-do' list for the council this year, replacing the Section 106 method

The next twelve months will be of tremendous importance for the city of Preston, with the upcoming Guild celebrations dominating proceedings.

But with some of the largest budget cuts of any council in England, all eyes are on the Town Hall and what councillors will be deciding in the coming months.

Here is what is in the in-tray of Leader of the council, Peter Rankin, and his cabinet members for the coming months.

Local Development Framework: Where do we build all these new houses?

The consultation period is over and now Preston City Council has to decide how it is going to meet a huge, and ever growing, demand for new homes, and affordable ones at that, in the city limits.

Working with neighbouring authorities in the Central Lancashire area will help but people still want to live in Preston, but not pay through the nose for it.

Councillors will also have to balance elements of NIMBYism with the need of keeping green lungs around, and within, the city.

They will also want to up the requirements for affordable homes to 30% in every development, currently 20%.

Decision needed by: February

Recycling: Getting rid of the blue boxes

Lids blowing off in the storms, cracked plastic boxes and big recycling targets from central government. Just a few of the reasons why the blue boxes we’ve all grown to remember to put out every week will be disappearing.

Now action needs to be taken to bring in wheelie bins for recycling and ensure the city is hitting its recycling targets, and staying green.

The council is also looking at bringing in “in cab vehicle data system”, this will allow them to track where all recycling lorries and vans are to better plan collection rounds.

Decision needed by: February

Queen Elizabeth II playing fields cash

With the Queen celebrating her Diamond Jubilee this year, the city has a chance to get some much needed cash for supporting playing fields and open recreational space.

Up to £25,000 will be in play from SITA as part of their £1 million fund for the Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge to protect recreational spaces in communities across the country.

Councillors need to decide which of the green lungs of the city should bid for the money, they are currently consulting with the local community.

At the same time the council is reviewing all the play areas in the parks and green spaces across the city.

Decision needed by: April

No more Section 106 money

The council intends to adopt the Community Infrastructure Levy. Keep with us, at the moment developers have to pay money under a Section 106 order to the community they develop in. This money is then put towards playgrounds, new roads and other community facilities in that area.

The new levy will allow the council to get extra funding from developers, more flexibility over what the money can be spent on and should mean it is clearer how much developers should pay – rather than wrangling over amounts at a later date.

The council wants to introduce the new system by September 2012 if it makes it through an independent examination of the new rules.

Decision needed by: February/March

What do you think about what’s in the inbox for the council? What should they do about the key issues above? Let us know in the comments below

Image credit to Tony Worrall

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