Government approves new Local Plan to guide planning decisions in Northumberland

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The first ever comprehensive Local Plan for Northumberland has received the green light from Government.

The document, which includes new planning policies, will guide and detail the scale and distribution of development.

It will also be used as the starting point for the determination of all future planning applications.

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The plan was submitted to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government for independent examination back in May 2019.

County Hall in Morpeth.County Hall in Morpeth.
County Hall in Morpeth.

Following a lengthy series of hearings during 2019 and 2020, and consultation on a schedule of modifications in 2021, the examination has now concluded.

Government inspectors have declared the plan ‘sound’ and their report has now been published on the council’s website.

Formal adoption will require approval by the council’s cabinet and full council and the aim is to get this done before the end of March.

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When fully adopted the plan will represent a final break from the plans of the former district and county councils.

A comprehensive training package for all those involved in the decision-making process will be undertaken, including direct sessions held with parish and town councils and neighbourhood planning groups.

Council leader Glen Sanderson said: “We are absolutely delighted to have Government approval for our Local Plan.

“It’s progressive, forward looking and reflects modern approaches to tackling important challenges like climate change, enhancing biodiversity and delivering affordable housing.

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“It also seeks to raise the profile of good, locally distinctive design and supporting more active lifestyles through better facilities for walking and cycling.

“I’m pleased to see that Government agrees with us that this is also an ambitious strategy for employment growth.”

Cllr Colin Horncastle, cabinet member responsible for planning at Northumberland County Council, said: “I would like to thank everyone in the team for their dedicated work and commitment over the months and years it’s taken to produce this plan.

“The coronavirus pandemic produced many challenges for the planning team and for the inspectors, but the final adoption of this plan for our county is now firmly in sight.”

The plan sets out a range of development proposals as well as planning policies, which will be used to assess applications and guide the location of future development in the county up to 2036.