Newsbrief 72 11 August 2020 Local Plan Adopted
CLOUD NEWSBRIEF NO 72
City Council adopts Local Plan
Government proposes changes to planning system
1. Local Plan Adoption. In Newsbrief no 71 we reported that the Planning Inspector had finally issued his report on the Lancaster Local Plan and declared it be sound. As you may already be aware, the full Lancaster City Council debated the Local Plan at its meeting on 29th July and the final decision was to formally adopt the plan. This means that the Local Plan, including the development in principle of Bailrigg garden village, has now completed its approval process and is operative as the plan for the future of the district.
We exercised our right to address the Council meeting (which was of course a virtual meeting due to the coronavirus regulations). On behalf of CLOUD, committee member Tom Wilkinson delivered the address which we included in Newsbrief 71 - available on the CLOUD website if you want to refer back to it. Councillor Hanson then replied and provided a number of assurances on the points we had raised. While her replies struck us as pretty bland, we did at least elicit a response this time - in contrast to the 2017 council debate at the start of the local plan approval process when our address was listened to in silence and without any response at all.
From CLOUD’s perspective, the most significant part of the debate was the amendment proposed by Councillor Dowding (Green Party) to review the Plan’s house-building targets in July 2021. The justification for this review was stated to be the flaws in the official forecasts for population growth in Lancaster which overstated the house-building targets. Councillor Dowding referred to the evidence which CLOUD and our expert witness presented to the Planning Inspector at the Hearings last year. She didn’t mention any names, but the expert was of course Neil McDonald and his appearance at the Hearings only came about thanks to the funds raised by CLOUD members. Frustratingly, Councillor Dowding’s amendment was narrowly defeated - 26 votes in favour, 28 against and 2 abstentions. We can perhaps take some consolation from the narrowness of the defeat and the fact that without the evidence from CLOUD the amendment might not have secured the support it did.
While this specific amendment failed, there was a recognition that the Plan needed to be reviewed and updated in the light of developments since it was first drafted. These included the Climate Emergency review (as previously announced) and other unspecified elements. This commitment was repeated by the Council Leader at the end of the debate. It was also notable that Councillors from Carnforth were very unhappy with the Inspector’s recommendations. While the issues here were not ones that CLOUD has been involved with, this does show that the Plan is not universally or uncritically welcomed. This is a contrast to the original 2017 debate when only a very small handful of councillors raised any objections to the draft Plan. How far any review process might go in terms of CLOUD’s objectives remains to be seen, but at least the Plan is not set in tablets of stone and we may be able to influence developments? At the end of the debate the Local Plan was adopted by a wide margin - 43 votes in favour, 12 against and 2 abstentions.
2. Changes to the Planning System. Last week the Government published proposals for extensive changes to the planning system - details are available on this link https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/planning-for-the-future . We will be considering these at the next CLOUD Management Committee meeting, but if you have any views or comments on what is being proposed please email them to us at email@example.com . Clearly the present system leaves much to be desired (as we’ve discovered during CLOUD’s 3 years of existence!), but these proposals contain some distinctly unwelcome arrangements. Further more detailed updates on the consultations surrounding these changes to follow in later Newsbriefs.