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Cabinet approves ambitious Local Plan Preferred Options for public consultation

West Lancashire Borough Council’s Cabinet has agreed the exciting new Local Plan proposals for public consultation next month.

The Plan will be the subject of a six week consultation exercise commencing in October and as part of that process, the Council will be holding a series of events around the Borough at which officers will be available by appointment to meet local residents to explain the proposals and answer any questions they may have. Details of these events will be published on the Councils website and in the local press.

The Preferred Options document approved by Cabinet for public consultation is for an innovative and ambitious long term strategic plan that will help deliver new development to support the growth of the Borough until 2050.  By releasing enough land for development needs for 30+ years, the Council will be in a better position to refuse any applications for development not in line with the Local Plan.

John Harrison, Director of Development and Regeneration, said: “The proposed new Local Plan will be an exciting blueprint for West Lancashire’s future. It will enable the Council to better manage new development in a way that creates more sustainable communities, provides homes for all parts of the community and increased employment opportunities for local people by taking advantage of opportunities emerging from the anticipated economic growth in the region, including those stimulated by the expanded Port of Liverpool. The proposals will also reinforce our case for the delivery of a rail connection to Skelmersdale.”

“The Council will shortly be embarking on a public consultation exercise and I would encourage the public to take the time to view the Plan on the Council’s website and to submit their views on the proposals contained within it.”

The Local Preferred Options would provide new homes and employment space in and around Skelmersdale, including an ambitious initiative to create three new Garden Villages and a Logistics Park alongside the M58. The three Garden Villages will offer comprehensively planned new settlements which enhance the natural environment.  They will provide new high-quality and imaginatively designed homes, including affordable homes, and access to local employment, all combining the best of town and country to create walkable, vibrant, healthy and sociable communities with good access to cycling and public transport infrastructure. This proposal would make a significant contribution to the business case for creating a Skelmersdale Rail Link.

Within Ormskirk and Aughton, the proposed Preferred Options plan for new homes and the opportunity to create an impressive brand new Knowledge Park and Student Accommodation Village on St Helens Road to complement what is already offered at Edge Hill University. These proposals will attract new, hi-tech businesses to Ormskirk and provide much-needed purpose-built student accommodation to alleviate the demand for houses of multiple occupation. They will also enable university graduates to stay in West Lancashire by offering more of the right type of jobs and housing (to buy and rent) for young professionals, and will support Ormskirk town centre businesses.

Some land currently designated as Green Belt will be released for development, but the Preferred Options will also ensure that the rural areas of the Borough will continue to be strongly protected from inappropriate development (over 88% of West Lancashire will remain as Green Belt). This will allow the agricultural sector to continue making its significant contribution to UK food production and ensuring that the natural environment of the Borough will be protected and enhanced.

While the Local Plan Preferred Options look to deliver exciting developments around the Borough’s two largest towns of Skelmersdale and Ormskirk, the proposals also allocate land for smaller opportunities for new developments in the rest of the Borough to meet local housing and employment needs.

The Council is legally obliged to assist neighbouring authorities meet housing and employment development across the wider region. The proposed Local Plan will enable the Council to meet those needs in the best possible way for West Lancashire while ensuring the Borough gains the Council Tax, New Homes Bonus and Business Rates revenues, as well as investment in infrastructure through the Community Infrastructure Levy and other developer contributions. The proposals also give the Council more chance of successfully securing Government investment in new infrastructure in West Lancashire.

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