Interview with Councillor Martin Forshaw, Portfolio Holder Planning and Transportation West Lancashire Borough Council responsible for the Local Plan.
A question and answer session specifically relating to housing develpment in West Lancashire as part of the 2012-2027 Local Plan, using Yew Tree Farm in Burscough as a working example.
4,650 houses need to be built in West Lancashire. 500 of which are to be built in Burscough, West Lancashire.
The proposed Yew Tree Farm Development in Burscough serves as the example in this interview with the locally elected official responsible for planning.
Councillor Martin Forshaw is asked many of the questions which have come to the fore during the last six weeks of public consultation.
Councillor Martin Forshaw provides categoric reassurances in some areas and points to the future Master Plan in others.
This is how the planning process works throughout the country, not just in West Lancashire.
If you're a West Lancashire resident keen to see your elected officials held to account and answering questions, watch this video. If you don't like or disagree with the answers and have a better plan, comment below, let your elected officials know. Better yet, stand for election yourself!
If you're resident elsewhere in England and interested in how housing is developed in your area, use this interview to become acquainted with the terminology in use in councils right across the country.
Interviewer notes gathered from video (This is not necessarily an exhausitive list of all the salient points made during the interview)
Local plan – strategic development 2012 – 2027
4,650 new homes across the borough
Consultation started in 2008 – decided on 3000 homes in Skelmersdale and 3 options for others – Ormskirk, Burscough or rural dispersement.
In 2010 the outcome of consultation was that there was no preference for any option.
Cabinet in 2011 decided on the Yew Tree Farm site as their proposed option.
Development had to be a combination of Greenbelt and brown field sites – no other viable option.
Land quality was not a critical deciding factor. Aspect and Location are greater key factors. No choice but to release Greenbelt for this plan. Not enough brownfield sites. However, less than 0.2% of Greenbelt will be used in West Lancashire as a whole, as part of the Local Plan.
Yew Tree Farm site lends more to development due to aspect and location when compared with the proposed Edge Hill site.
In Burscough 500 homes to be built up to 2027, land protected for further development in the future. Includes 20 acres set aside for 'employment zone'. Based on estimates from the building industry WLBC think that no more than 100 houses will be developed each year. The first not until around 2020
Utilities upgrades will be sorted first and paid for by developer. United Utilities have to upgrade the waste water facilities in Burscough anyway. No utilities upgrade – no housing development! An “absolute”
Planing Inspectorate will examine the decision in public, then an official Master Plan will be written around 2014. A Master Plan will be produced. This will outline all the amenities and transport plans.
There is a Plan B if the developers can't deliver what is in the Master Plan (in relation to utilities upgrades).
CO2 emissions – West Lancashire Borough Council (WLBC) will encourage use of public transport wherever possible on all sites.
National Government required formalised plan ASAP. Developers in the meantime are able to submit plans that the council didn't have an approved policy to use to counter with to defend against rogue (rogue is my term not WLBC) applications.
Work on Master Plan exercise starts in about 18 months. Residents will be consulted and listened to, WLBC wants residents help on prioritising amenities “wish” list. (wish is my term not WLBC)
No actual development before 2020 (estimate)
Next stage Planning Inspectorate will test and validate the Local Plan in public to ensure it meets the criteria of the National Policy Framework. The plan will then go to full council for adoption. If adopted this then becomes the official local plan for 2012-2027. The Yew Tree Farm type developments which form a part of the Local Plan will then be Master Planned, which adds the detailed planning e.g. site road layout and additions, entrances, exits, housing type, housing layout etc. Local people will be consulted on this detailed planning.
Land allocation approved – Draft Local Plan adopted – detailed work contained in Master Plan
Planning Applications have to be in-line with planning policy “absolutely”
Lancashire County Council Highways Department has already indicated to WLBC that the existing road infrastructure, with some traffic improvements, can cope with planned development.
Councillor Forshaw towards the end of the interview a justification for making unpopular, but necessary decisions. Without an agreed Local Plan the council is vulnerable to developers applications and less favourable developments.
Agreement to meet again and discuss the detail in the Master Plan.
Greenbelt release biggest single concern identified by residents. Councillor Martin Forshaw covers this ground (so to speak) again towards the end of the interview. “No choice, repeat no choice but to release Greenbelt for this development plan” “However, a lot of time and effort has gone into keeping the greenbelt release to an absolute minimum.” Overall over a 15 year planning period total greenbelt release is less than 0.2%
Please leave your comments and views regarding the interview using the comments option.
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