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Parishes move closer to greater say in planning process

1 December 2016

Two South Lakeland communities have taken a major step forward with aims to take a greater role in planning and development in their area.

In July our Cabinet approved that Heversham and Hincaster parishes' Neighbourhood Plan move forward to an 'examination' stage, which is the next step before a referendum and then adoption if the community votes in favour.

Today (Thursday) it was announced that independent examiner, Mr Peter Biggers, approved the parishes' Neighbourhood Plan and can therefore proceed to a Neighbourhood Planning referendum.

A Neighbourhood Plan can establish general planning policies for the development and use of land in a neighbourhood, such as the location and appearance of new buildings and may identify sites for new development

Parishes with a Neighbourhood Plan will also receive 25% of any Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) arising from developments in the area. This is compared to 15% for those that  do not  have a Neighbourhood Plan. CIL is a levy charged on new developments over a certain size and the money raised is put towards providing the necessary local infrastructure to support them.

Heversham and Hincaster Parishes were together designated as a Neighbourhood Area in July 2013, allowing them to work towards preparing a full Neighbourhood Plan.

July's Cabinet decision meant the proposed plan that was put forward complied with all the relevant regulations and procedural requirements, it was also publicised for six weeks from 9 June to 21 July to allow further comments.

Following this the plan went for independent examination with Mr Biggers' report concluding it met the basic conditions set out in the legislation and should now go forward to a referendum.

If the referendum results in a simple majority in favour then it would come back to us for adoption. Both the examination and referendum are paid for by us, although once a referendum date is set, we can submit a claim to the Government for funding to cover these costs.

Once adopted the Neighbourhood Plan would become part of the development plan for the district outside the national parks and would be a key document that has to be taken into account when determining any planning applications within Heversham and Hincaster parishes.

If the Heversham and Hincaster Neighbourhood Plan is adopted it will become the first in South Lakeland outside the national parks.

So far South Lakeland has five designated Neighbourhood Areas, with only Coniston having an adopted Neighbourhood Plan following a referendum in January 2016.

Councillor Jonathan Brook, our portfolio holder for Housing and Innovation, said: “This is a great example of localism at work.

“Neighbourhood Plans are all about giving local communities greater control over what happens in their area, so they can have a real say and determine real policies that carry weight in the planning and development process.

“We have a Council Plan value to embrace localism and empower people to have a say in decisions that directly affect them, so I am pleased that so many South Lakeland communities are getting involved in the Neighbourhood Plan process.’’