Following the results of feedback from the recent public consultation on the Local Plan, the Labour administration at West Lancashire Borough Council has announced that it is changing the timescale for developing the next Local Plan, in order that a new set of ‘preferred options’ can be developed, taking into account the concerns raised by residents.
Council Leader, Cllr Ian Moran, said, “The current planning system works in favour of housing developers, not local authorities or residents, which is why we wanted to develop a plan that could help bring in greater infrastructure funding, to tackle the piecemeal approach to planning that the current Local Plan creates. As shown by our legal defence of the Parrs Lane site last year, we are determined to ensure greater control over the release of land, for the benefit of residents, not developers.
“However, it is clear that many residents have concerns over the longer timescale proposed. As we have said from the outset of this Local Plan process, we want to ensure that residents’ concerns are heard and incorporated into the final proposal. By contrast, the leaders of both opposition parties, Cllr David Westley and Cllr Adrian Owens, shamelessly and contemptibly ignored the views of residents during the development of the last Local Plan and drove their proposals forward without any regard for the results of the previous public consultation.
“What is worse is that they are now lying to residents about this consultation and the cost of the process, having seemingly collaborated to make up a figure for their press statements. All of the recent studies commissioned by the Council, which have fed into the Local Plan development, can continue to be used in setting out a new list of ‘preferred options’ to go back to the public, so this review does not increase the cost to the taxpayer.
“This Conservative government has placed local authorities under huge pressure to deliver new housing, without giving them sufficient powers to tackle the problems of developers sitting on development land and trying to cherry pick the best sites. We have to review our Local Plan every five years, otherwise the government will impose the housing on us without any regard for local infrastructure, so we need to make sure we are doing everything we can to keep control.
“That is why we will continue to listen to, and work with, local residents to ensure that we can deliver a new Local Plan that brings benefits to our residents and puts in place the improvements we need to create jobs, affordable housing, and accessible housing that meets the needs of the elderly and disabled. We need to guarantee that such developments are placed where they are most needed across West Lancashire and we must address key issues like limits on student housing in residential areas and adequate sized parking spaces and garages on new build developments.”
Cllr John Hodson has resigned his role as Portfolio Holder for Planning, ahead of stepping down from West Lancashire Borough Council in May, and the responsibilities have been subsumed into Cllr Ian Moran’s portfolio. Cllr Moran adds, “I would like to reassure any residents or residents’ groups that they can continue to talk to us about the development of the next Local Plan, and we will continue to listen and respond to their concerns.”