Posted by: westlancashirerecord | November 19, 2018

Labour’s Common Sense New Plan

Today we discuss the second page of the Labour “Common Sense Plan” that explains the rate of development, ie that massive developments will not be taking place all at once, that the figure of 16,000 homes in the new plan incorporates the 4,700 in the existing Local Plan, and new development will equate to only around 400 homes per year across the whole Borough. Fair comment.

Labour asks “Why are we planning to facilitate the housing needs of other authorities” and this refers to the Duty to Co-Operate, a Conservative imposed legal requirement. But some authorities don’t want West Lancashire co-operation, and even think the 30 year plan is inappropriate. Knowsley Council , for example, whose response states “Thank you for consulting Knowsley Council on the Issues and Options for the West Lancashire Local Plan Review. We recognise that there are a number of Issues and Options Papers have been published as part of the consultation.

“Our focus has been the review of the Strategic Development Options Paper, which we consider has most relevance to sub-regional and cross boundary issues of interest to Knowsley Council. We appreciate the need for West Lancashire to plan to meet its objectively assessed needs for new residential and employment development, in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

“We are generally supportive of the principle of West Lancashire growing in accordance with its identified needs and ambitions. As you will be aware, Knowsley Council adopted its Local Plan Core Strategy in January 2016. This Plan secures Knowsley’s ability to meet its own needs and demands for new housing and employment development up to 2028, without the need for assistance from neighbouring authorities. Therefore, given our current policy position, we do not require West Lancashire to meet any of Knowsley’s development needs.

“Notwithstanding this, we are looking forward to working with our Liverpool City Region partners, including West Lancashire, on finalising the Strategic Housing and Employment Land Market Assessment (SHELMA), and any subsequent work on disaggregating development needs identified in this assessment. We would strongly support the commentary at paragraph 3.2.11 of the Strategic Development Options Paper, which describes the intention to work with neighbouring authorities to finding the best solution to meeting any unmet needs and demands for the Liverpool City Region.

“We consider that that the SHELMA, and any subsequent work on disaggregation of unmet needs and demands, will need to be completed prior to us being able to express a preference for any of the Strategic Development Options proposed by West Lancashire.

“With respect to the options for Local Plan periods proposed at section 3.3.1 of the Strategic Development Options Paper, we note that the second option being considered is a plan period which runs to 2050. This is considered to be an extremely lengthy period, well beyond usual Local Plan timescales. Indeed, as this is beyond the period covered by the SHELMA (which covers the period to 2037), West Lancashire Council – may find it difficult to forecast in spatial planning terms need for housing and employment – development up to 2050.

“We appreciate that the NPPF requires local planning authorities to release sufficient land to meet longer-term development needs, when altering Green Belt boundaries, and that a longer plan period would provide more long term certainty. However, our recent – experience with the preparation of the Knowsley Local Plan, which included a plan period up to 2028, was that only one housing site was required to be safeguarded beyond the plan period, supplying three years’ worth of additional housing land. This approach was found by an Inspector to be an “appropriate” and “reasonable” response to the NPPF’s objectives.

“Given this, we consider that the option of a plan period up to 2050 has a high risk of being considered unacceptable. This is due to the lack of certainty regarding needs and demands for new housing and employment development so far into the future, and the subsequent difficulty in meeting the NPPF’s “exceptional circumstances” test to release land from the Green Belt.

“We look forward to continued involvement in the preparation of the West Lancashire Local Plan Review and its evidence base. We confirm that our central areas of interest remain strategic housing and employment issues, including planning for Gypsies and Travellers. This is in view of our priority to ensure any impacts on Knowsley’s communities, or on our shared housing and employment market areas, are addressed”.

Page 2 also mentions “Why develop on Green Belt land?”. Yes, why take 1.7% of our valuable greenbelt over 30 years? Why take ANY valuable local agriculture that makes significant contributions to food production? Who knows why? Well Labour says a 30-year plan is best placed to protect the green belt, close to infrastructure, close to the “settlements” of Skelmersdale and Ormskirk and also close to the motorway networks for sustainability! Of what!

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