Northumberland County Council has confirmed its commitment to producing a Local Plan in the shortest timescale possible.
Last summer, the county council’s new Conservative administration withdrew the Local Plan Core Strategy to review a number of aspects of the document, primarily due to concerns that numbers for the proposed level of new housing were too high. Opposition councillors accused the Tories of playing politics and said that it would be a free-for-all for developers while there is no plan in place.
Then, in November, we revealed that the key document which details where development should take place is not likely to be adopted until 2020. That same day, the Government, through a speech by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid, threatened to intervene directly with councils which had failed to establish a plan – including Northumberland.
Now, a variety of measures have been taken to accelerate production of the new plan which are expected to lead to a shortening of the overall timetable, with a view to it being in place by summer 2020. These have been highlighted to the Government in a written response to its concerns from last November.
The draft plan will be published in the summer of 2018, with the timing of the full Local Plan to be submitted to Government for examination by summer 2019 and, following examination, will be adopted by summer 2020, with periods of public consultation throughout the process.
Council leader Peter Jackson said: “The council is committed to producing a sound and deliverable Local Plan for Northumberland in the shortest time-scales possible.
“Significant progress with plan-making in Northumberland has been made, as evidenced within the previously submitted Core Strategy and the work done since its withdrawal.
“We have measures in place to ensure that plan production is prioritised and well-resourced, with strong officer and political oversight in place to ensure that all actions are closely monitored and remain on schedule.
“And despite the wild and unfounded claims from others, we have been able to make sure that our county will have a full development plan in place in a timescale which is very similar to the one set out by the council’s previous administration.”
This latter comment refers to the fact that the 2020 date is for the entire Local Plan to be adopted, rather than just the Core Strategy element, which was withdrawn.
Coun John Riddle, cabinet member for planning, housing and resilience, added: “We are committed to working with local communities to deliver a Plan which local people want and one that also has widespread political support.
“We are now working towards a single, full Local Plan which will set the strategic planning policies and include detailed land allocations and designations as well as development management policies.
“This will provide clarity and certainty to communities and developers about where development will take place in order to deliver the council’s development strategy.”