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People across Northumberland will soon be able to have their say on a new Local Plan for the county.

Northumberland County Council is set to approve publication of a full draft of the proposed plan for public consultation.

Following the withdrawal of the previous Local Plan Core Strategy in July last year the council has been working at full speed on the new plan, and has made significant progress.

The plan will set 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.  It now covers an extended period period up to 2036, seven years more than had been previously looked at.

The council has said that it wants a local development plan that is truly fit to address the future housing and economic needs of Northumberland, while respecting and protecting the beautiful county.

The new plan aims to ensure that all communities are supported by adequate services, facilities and infrastructure including housing, education, transport, health, social care, sport and recreation.

Key features are policies and proposals to create up to 15,000 new jobs in the county – a quarter in dedicated industrial estates and office parks – but the majority in town centres or more rural locations.

Housing numbers have been much reduced from the previous plan, which the new administration withdrew last year, with 17,700 proposed over the plan period as opposed to 24,000 previously after proper consideration of all of the up to date evidence on population growth and housing need.

Policies will ask for a minimum of 20% of all new homes to be affordable and make provision for accommodation with support for older people and vulnerable adults, for example in ‘extra care’ accommodation.

Councillor Peter Jackson, Leader of Northumberland County Council, said:  “This new plan shows our ambitions for the future economic prosperity of Northumberland.  It will deliver a growing and thriving county in line with our aspirations as a council, with national planning policy, and with the ambitions of the North of Tyne Combined Authority.

“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.

“We have produced a plan which is properly evidence based and we are fully confident will pass at the examination stage, and we have done this in one year as opposed to the previous attempt which had taken up to seven years. This is a plan for a confident and optimistic future for our county, a county that will work for everyone.    

“We have been working very hard to prepare the new plan, and we’re committed to finalising it in the shortest timescale possible, and within the requirements of Government.”

Councillor John Riddle, cabinet member for planning, housing and resilience, added:  “We want to extend housing choice and the plans we are proposing will do this without having to build houses on the Green Belt.

“We want to meet the needs of Northumberland’s population, including those of an ageing population, and also to provide attractive housing options for those moving into the county to boost the economy.  Supported housing for the elderly is extremely important and is in line with our public health agenda. 

“To provide more affordable homes we plan to require a minimum of 20% of homes on new permissions. This will be a mixture of homes for rent and various forms of affordable home ownership.  We are also addressing the issue of second homes where this is a significant issue for communities, and are recognising the need for primary occupancy in our policies.”

“We are committed to ensuring that everyone with an interest in this plan has the opportunity to have their say to help shape the future of the county.”

The draft local plan will be considered by the county council’s communities and place overview and scrutiny committee on 8th June and cabinet on 14 June.  If approved it is proposed that it will be open for full public consultation between 4 July and 15 August 2018.

Everyone with an interest in the plan will be able to view it online or in local libraries and information centres across Northumberland.  Comments will be able to be made online or in writing to the council’s planning strategy team.

The planning team will be running 23 public drop-in events at venues across Northumberland during July and August – the details of these events will be available online and in a leaflet which will be delivered to homes and businesses in advance of the consultation events.  

To see the committee papers click here.

To find out more about the local plan visit www.northumberland.gov.uk/localplan

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