Ashfield District Council finally ready to put forward its Local Plan

councillor Don Davis, deputy leader of Ashfield District Council.
councillor Don Davis, deputy leader of Ashfield District Council.

Ashfield District Council has announced it is finally ready to put forward its long awaited Local Plan.

The Council is now at the stage where it has a Local Plan (Publication Local Plan) that it would like to take forward and adopt.

The plan will set out how Ashfield will deal with an expected 10,000 new jobs over 15 years and 480 new homes a year to be built.

After years of going back to the drawing board and consultations about controversial housing sites, the authority is finalising the process of sending the plan to Government.

A meeting of the authority’s cabinet on September 22 will decide whether to give the green light to the plan which must be submitted before early 2017 or it will be imposed.

Deputy Leader of the Council, Don Davis said: “Whilst difficult decisions have had to be made, the Council has to consider the needs of future generations.

“We want to ensure our children and young people have the same opportunities older generations have enjoyed to have a choice of homes and access a range of jobs.

“While some of these decisions may raise concerns, the Council does not feel it is right for our children and young people to have to leave the District to access homes and jobs.”

The plan has a target of delivering at least 7,683 new homes by 2032, at least 480 dwellings a year and 400 residential care home bed spaces by 2032.

Over the same period it aims to deliver at least 59 hectares (ha) of employment land and in town centres deliver between 5,800 and 7,300 sq m of convenience retail and 7,800 and 12,300 sq m of

comparison retail

The council has council published a final list of areas affected by allocations for new housing of 7,683 houses over the next 15 years.

There has been widespread opposition by residents particularly in green sites such as the Mowlands site in Kirkby where 900 houses are planned,and Beck lane Skegby where 400 are allocated.

A recent planning application to build more than 200 houses on land allocated in the plan off Ashland Road West, Sutton was rejected by the authority.

During the consultation period earlier in the year a number of public exhibitions and meetings were held, enabling the community to engage with the Council and discuss proposals contained within the plan.

The authority maintains consultation was ‘well received’ with the council receiving 683 formal responses about the proposals put forward in the Local Plan.

Coun Davis said over the spring and summer the Council has been assessing all the comments received and where appropriate has revised or enhanced the Local Plan.

Some of the comments received focused on proposed housing sites, and the Council has created development briefs for the 16 largest sites to help address some of the comments raised by residents, detailing key considerations that future development must address.

Coun Davis added: “We want to ensure our communities stay together and prosper. To achieve this we must provide new homes and areas for businesses to grow. We also understand that in order to support growth, new infrastructure to be provided.

“The Council is working very closely with the Highways Authority, County Council Education Department and the Clinical Commissioning Groups to ensure these agencies are aware and planning for the infrastructure needed to support the District’s growth.

“This means provision of new or improved roads, schools and healthcare facilities.

“The Council will support this process by negotiating developer contributions to help fund this infrastructure, as well as other contributions towards affordable housing, open space, town centre development and leisure. These agencies are also considering other funding opportunities to help deliver the infrastructure needed.

“I can assure residents that we will seek as much financial contribution as possible from future development for the benefit of the whole of Ashfield.”

If given Cabinet and Council approval, the Council will publish the revised Local Plan, known as the Publication Local Plan for a final stage of consultation in November and December.

This final stage is specifically to check whether the Local Plan has been produced in line with national regulations.

As such any representations must be focused on this aspect. The Council will produce a specific response form together with guidance needs.

Following this final consultation the Publication Plan will be sent to the Secretary of State, who will appoint an Inspector to examine the Plan in public. It is hoped that this will happen early in 2017.

The local plan is one of the most important aspects of the authority’s responsibility as it determines how Ashfield will grow and develop as a community over the next 15 years, and how it will provide a future for residents and their families.

The authority has forecasted 10,000 new jobs will be created in the area over the next 15 years.

Two years ago , the council voted to withdraw its local plan after a Government inspector said it was probably “unsound”.

The authority must deliver the plan by 2017, or the council would lose its right to determine planning applications in the area.

Conservative group leader, Councillor Ben Bradley said: “It is vital we agree a Local Plan and get it approved, because the coucnil’s failure to do so last time in 2013 means we currently have next to control over developers across the District. We need the plan in place to be able to decide what gets built where, and stop the developers having so much power. It also gives us more opportunity to support the High Street, and various other benefits once approved.

He added: “We have no choice as councillors in terms of housing targets, which are set independently, but from Hucknall’s perspective we’ve been successful through the steering group in reducing the number of houses to be built in the town, allocating them in Kirkby and Sutton instead, which is good news locally. As well as that actually almost two thirds of the houses needed by 2032 already have planning permission and are underway, so there are no more plans for huge new estates the size of the Rolls Royce site, for example.

“I would urge residents to have a look and have a say on the plans to make sure there’s nothing in there that would prevent us getting this plan approved, because that would prevent us from getting that control back from developers.”

More when we have it.