Changes to be made to core strategy

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Following extensive consultation on a key planning document for Northumberland, the county council has listened to views and is making changes as a result.

After taking on board feedback from the public, businesses and local communities, Northumberland County Council proposes to change parts of the local plan core strategy and reconsult, before it is submitted to Government.

Through the core strategy and the economic strategy for the county the council wants to ensure a prosperous Northumberland, founded on quality local jobs and connected communities. It wants to help to create 10,000 new jobs by 2031.

Key to this is attracting new workers, who need affordable and decent homes, and the council wants to extend choice in the housing market and address the shortfall in affordable homes.

Consultation on a pre-submission draft of the core strategy took place between October 14 and November 25 last year and around 1,850 comments were received from almost 400 respondents.

This was the fifth public consultation on stages of the core strategy and on each occasion the council has taken comments and feedback into account and adjusted details in the document as a result.

A report which will be considered by council committees from next week which highlights some of the main issues raised during and since the major consultation last year.

The council’s Cabinet will be asked to consider that major modifications should be made to parts of the plan, and to allow the community to have a say on these.

Details of the modifications will be published in June, when there will be a further six-week public consultation on those parts of the plan.

Coun Allan Hepple, Cabinet member for economic growth at the county council, said: "We are determined that Northumberland will grow and prosper – with more jobs, more residents of working age and a greater choice in the housing market.

"To do this we have to ensure that the core strategy and evidence are robust, and can pass Government inspection, but most importantly can deliver these future benefits for Northumberland.

"There was a very good response to last year’s consultation on the core strategy – and I would like to thank everyone who took the time to look at the document, to come along to a drop-in event, or provided their comments and feedback.

"We have listened carefully to the views of residents, and as a result we are changing parts of the plan.

"We know that it is important to finalise the policies in the core strategy as soon as is possible – but they must also be robust and the right ones for Northumberland.

"We will be working with local communities, including parish and town councils and neighbourhood planning groups, before finalising proposed changes to parts of the plan."

Issues that have been raised include the need to amend windfarm policy in line with new government guidance, the need for more retail development, ongoing discussions with other agencies such as Highways England and the Homes and Communities Agency, and further examination of green-belt boundaries around smaller settlements in Northumberland.

Through the core strategy the council has proposed modest changes to some green-belt boundaries, but only in exceptional circumstances, with more than 99 per cent of green belt in Northumberland protected.

The proposed revised timetable for the core strategy will mean that major modifications will be published and consulted on in June and July this year. The final strategy will be agreed in November and submitted to Government in December. This would see examination by Government in spring 2017 and adoption by summer 2017.

A report will be considered by the council’s Cabinet on March 21, and before that by the Economic Growth and Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday.

Further information about the consultation on major modifications, and how people will be able to have a say, will be published nearer the time.