Have your say on plan review ahead of deadline

28 August 2020

Residents are being urged to have their say on how they want South Lakeland’s post-Coronavirus future to be shaped, ahead of a consultation deadline next month.

The initial phase of engagement on the Local Plan review closes on 18 September 2020 and residents are encouraged to add their feedback on issues ranging from what employment and housing the area needs to tackling climate change and how special landscapes can be protected.

The first part of the Local Plan Review consultation was paused due to the pandemic after being launched in February, but was re-started in June with an extended deadline to allow time for everyone to have their say.

The council is particularly keen to hear how people think the experience and impacts of the Coronavirus crisis should influence the long-term plan, which guides council policies on new development for the next 10 years and beyond.

Councillor Jonathan Brook, SLDC’s portfolio holder for Housing and Innovation, said: “We’d like to invite people to consider responding ahead of the 18 September deadline, thinking particularly about how they’d like to see the district renew and recover following the pandemic.

“We will likely be living with the impacts and the reality of Coronavirus for years to come, so we need to consider all our plans with this in mind.’’

The Coronavirus crisis has increased the scale of some of the challenges already identified in planning for the area’s future and the need to think about how it might change the way we all live and work in future, and how the council can ensure new development is planned in a way that supports our wellbeing.

Some issues already highlighted by the lockdown include the importance of good-quality places to live as many of us have spent more time at home, as well as the importance of high quality ‘green infrastructure’ for fresh air and exercise.

The Local Plan can set standards for new homes, to ensure that they are built in the right place and are of the right quality to support our health and wellbeing. It also has a role in protecting our green spaces and how we can be better stewards of the environment and tackle climate change; it can examine how planning policies can be more flexible to allow town centres to recover, respond and change following Coronavirus and may look at how demand for new homes in our area could increase, as more people potentially look to move out of towns and cities to areas such as South Lakeland where they can work remotely from home.

The current Local Plan Review is separate to consultation on the Government’s recently announced planning White Paper, which proposes fundamental reforms to the planning system in England.

Councillor Brook believes the implications of the White Paper make it even more important for the council to understand what the residents of South Lakeland want from future planning in the district.

He continued: “Contributing to the Local Plan Review will really help us to build a picture of what’s important to our residents and that will be crucial for us when considering the proposals in the White Paper.

“South Lakeland is a special place to live and to work. It is an area that regularly features among the best in the UK for its quality of life.

“Keeping it special doesn’t happen by accident. The planning system and the Local Plan have a big role to play.

“As we live through the pandemic, it is more important than ever to carefully balance priorities for people, the economy and the environment to help ensure the most sustainable future for South Lakeland.

“The Local Plan is key to ensuring we meet the challenges facing our area, and we hope that everyone who cares about shaping the future of the district will want to be involved.’’

The Local Plan covers the areas of South Lakeland outside the national parks and allocates sites for housing and employment. It also contains the policies that the council will use to decide whether to grant planning permissions for new development.

But it doesn’t just set out rules: it also seeks to set the framework for making the area even better, for example by reducing the environmental impact of new development and supporting measures to tackle climate change, plans to improve town centres, building affordable housing, helping wildlife and enhancing green open spaces, reducing flood risk and even improving infrastructure such as roads and cycleways.

The current review also includes a ‘call for sites’ for land that may be suitable for housing or employment development. The Local Plan website pages provide further details, including how to submit a site for consideration. This initial call for sites exercise also closes on 18 September 2020.

The revised Local Plan won’t be adopted until 2023 following several more consultation phases, including a public examination of the proposals.

Councillor Brook said: “Everything is up for discussion and no decisions have been made. As we look to the future, it is vitally important that we plan carefully and so we want to hear the views of as many people as possible. We want the Local Plan to be everyone’s plan for the future of South Lakeland.

“We also want people to think about not just the here and now, but what is best for the future of the area: the things that your children or grandchildren will want from future development. The Local Plan will look ahead to 2040 and beyond so it’s a long-term plan that will shape that future development.’’

How to get involved

Sign up to the mailing list at Local Plan Consultations to receive newsletter updates.

Read more about the Local Plan Review. Including an early engagement discussion paper, a draft policy review paper and a range of short ‘topic sheets’ on different subject areas.

Answer a survey at Local Plan Review.