The Alnwick and Denwick Neighbourhood Plan offers a comprehensive vision for the sustainable development of the town and village between now and 2031.
In chapters covering housing, employment, town centre, heritage, transport, community facilities and open spaces, it sets out 46 policy proposals, which, if the plan is accepted in the referendum on June 15, will then become a reference point for Northumberland County Council in deciding planning applications in the neighbourhood area.
The plan, led by Alnwick Town Council and written by a steering group of local people, has been the subject of extensive consultation within the community, as well as external scrutiny and amendment by the county council and an independent examiner.
Its vision is for an improving quality of life for those living in and visiting the neighbourhood.
It addresses some of the social, economic and environmental issues that hold the key to a sustainable future.
In full, it is available on the website – www.alnwick-and-denwick-plan.org.uk – but here’s a flavour of some of the main proposals which are set out in its 112 pages.
At its heart is an expectation that the neighbourhood will grow both in population and as an employment centre over the next 14 years.
Thus the objectives of the chapters dealing with housing and employment are respectively ‘to provide a range of good quality housing, particularly affordable housing, to meet local need,’ and ‘to support, strengthen and diversify Alnwick as the principal employment and service centre for the wider area.’
The plan expects an additional 1,100 dwellings in the area between 2011 and 2031, about 50 per cent of which have either been built already or have planning permission. It proposes that larger developments should be required to make provision for affordable housing.
The six economy and employment policies support ‘development proposals that provide opportunities for the training, employment and retention of young people...subject to local character and residential amenity being protected’.
The plan recognises that economic and population growth in the area must be accommodated alongside a medieval townscape rich in heritage and culture and the need to preserve vital green spaces.
Sections in the plan addressing these issues set out specific proposals to ensure that vital character of Alnwick town and Denwick village are not sacrificed in pursuit of growth.
The heritage section includes proposals to safeguard our ‘vital historic places’ and the quality of the gateways and approaches to the town centre.
The environment section recognises and lists existing local green spaces and proposes that major new developments should make provision for the creation or improvement of green spaces within their overall scheme.
Other environment policies include the protection of trees, allotment provision and reducing light pollution.
“Holding on to our community facilities is very important for our future,” said Sue Patience, a steering-group member. “It has been so important to get the right balance in the plan for the people of Alnwick and Denwick both now and in the years ahead.”
The plan sets out eight proposals and guidance with respect to the provision and protection of community facilities for sports and recreation, for education and for older people. Also included is a policy regarding the future development of the middle-school sites.
Linking the different strands together are recommendations and policy proposals about transport.
“Transport makes a major contribution to the quality of life for all of us,” said Martin Murphy, a steering group member.
“The plan begins to show how we can improve the balance of priorities for vehicles and pedestrians throughout the neighbourhood, helping to ensure that our residential, community and commercial areas are attractive and safe places.
“This plan is much more than just a planners’ plan. It’s a plan about the future of our community. That’s why it’s important that we each cast our vote on June 15.”