Council Plan

Last Updated: 3 April 2024

The Council Plan is the council’s most important strategic policy document. It sets out SLDC’s vision and priorities for the next five years.

The Council Plan is reviewed each year. The 2021 edition was adopted in February. It provides strategic direction for the many projects plans and strategies which underpin all of SLDC’s work.

Council plan 2021 to 2026 overview

The plan has been updated to respond to some big changes in South Lakeland. The Covid pandemic has had a major impact on the district’s economy and communities and its aftermath will be with us for many years. The council has declared a climate emergency. It has set carbon reduction targets and developed an action plan to meet them. The council has also declared a poverty emergency. Finally, Government proposals for re-organising councils may change the shape of local government in the Morecambe Bay area.

SLDC has a long standing vision of making ‘South Lakeland the best place to live work and explore’.

In areas such as housing and communities, the council is working to make South Lakeland a better place to live. Through its work in economic development and culture, the council is making the district a better place to work. Through its work on the environment and health, the council is making the district a better place to explore.

The updated plan identifies four key priorities to achieve that vision:

  • Working across boundaries, delivering sustainable regional growth across Morecambe Bay
  • Delivering a balanced community, a South Lakeland for all ages
  • A fairer South Lakeland, a South Lakeland for everyone
  • Addressing the climate emergency, a carbon neutral South Lakeland

One big change in the 2021 Plan is closer working with Barrow Borough and Lancaster City councils to build on the positive work on The Bay unitary proposal. This means co-operating on economic development, infrastructure, housing and employment growth as well as skills and knowledge. All of this is vital as our communities emerge from the impact of the pandemic. The three councils are also looking to collaborate on inequality and deprivation, population health and carbon reduction.

The latest Council Plan also gives greater emphasis on sustainability and climate change, and builds in targets for carbon reduction.

Another key change is more emphasis on fairness and reducing disadvantage and inequalities. Work on personal financial resilience needs to be redoubled as many people have been placed under financial stress as never before as a result of the pandemic.

This plan set out how the council’s work supports these key Council Plan priorities to ensure South Lakeland continues to be the best place to live, work and explore.

Our four priorities 2021 to 2026

We have four priorities:

Working across boundaries, delivering sustainable regional growth across Morecambe Bay
Delivering a balanced community, a South Lakeland for all ages
A fairer South Lakeland, a South Lakeland for everyone
Addressing the climate emergency, a carbon neutral South Lakeland

Working across boundaries

Delivering sustainable regional growth across Morecambe Bay

Why this is a priority

South Lakeland lies at the heart of the Morecambe Bay Economic Region between our two partner authorities of Lancaster and Barrow.

Together, we are a critical mass with a population of more than 320,000, more than 13,000 businesses, 18,000 advanced manufacturing jobs and two universities, aligned with economic, environmental, cultural and health geographies.

We can use our combined weight to secure the investment, growth and transport infrastructure that will deliver jobs and maintain and enhance quality of life across the whole Bay area.

Our ambition is for a thriving and diverse sub-regional economy with a skilled workforce, a balanced housing market to meet needs, great leisure services to encourage healthy lifestyles and a cultural offer that appeals to residents and visitors alike as well as delivering excellent regulatory services.

Co-operation and collaboration across the Bay also creates opportunities to develop combined approaches to health, carbon reduction and tackling deprivation and inequality.

In December 2020 South Lakeland District, Lancaster City and Barrow Borough submitted a joint proposal to Government to combine as a single unitary authority. Working across boundaries has been an SLDC priority for some years and as a result, there is already a high degree of alignment between South Lakeland’s plan and the equivalent plans for Lancaster and Barrow.

Working across boundaries also means working across other related geographies including the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks, Westmorland and Furness Council and Local Economic Partnership and the Borderlands programme.

What we are doing

Housing and communities:

  • ensuring that all three Districts (South Lakeland, Barrow and Lancaster) have up to date Local Plans
  • intervening to deliver strategic sites
  • working with partners to deliver critical transport and other infrastructure
  • attracting new delivery partners

Housing and communities targets:

  • deliver 320 homes every year across the district
  • produce draft Local Plan by mid-2022
  • support delivery of new Swarthmoor roundabout in 2021

Economic development and culture:

  • working across the Bay to secure investment and high value jobs
  • attracting funding and delivering critical infrastructure
  • working with partners to deliver an effective economic response to the COVID crisis
  • promoting unique value propositions such as cultural, creative and marine industries

Economic development and culture targets:

  • submit Morecambe Bay Growth bid
  • complete Master Plan for GSK site in Ulverston by July 2021
  • economic Development strategy setting out delivery framework and targets to be completed by December 2021

Health and Environment:

  • supporting our NHS partners in managing the impacts of the COVID pandemic in the area
  • working with Morecambe Bay CCG to develop a population health approach

Health and Environment targets:

  • develop Morecambe Bay Population Health Strategy
  • support Morecambe Bay CCG in managing Covid Pandemic

Our ambition

South Lakeland is at the centre of a Morecambe Bay Economic Region at the cutting-edge of delivering sustainable economic growth in the north of England with the right homes, high value jobs, world class knowledge and exceptional quality of life.

Delivering a balanced community

A South Lakeland for all ages.

Why this is a priority

Recent population and household projections suggest that the decline in the district population identified in previous years has been arrested and the population is starting to grow again.

Our population is forecast to rise from 105,300 to 110,200 by 2040.

This also means that the number of households increasing from 48,200 to 52,100, around 191 per year.

However, a major concern is that the South Lakeland population is ageing. By 2040, there are projected to be 3,200 fewer people of working age and 8,700 more people over 65.

This is a concern because it means that the local economy needs another 3,200 working age people, or 160 every year, just to stand still and even more if the economy is to develop and grow.

We need to encourage our young people to stay, encourage those who have left and acquired knowledge and skills elsewhere to return, encourage economically active people to come in and encourage our older residents to stay healthy and active.

This means encouraging enterprise and the creation of high value jobs and housing people can afford. It also means ensuring that our digital infrastructure is fit for purpose for our young people, for our workforce to work remotely and for our firms to access talent across the country.

It also means ensuring that our towns and countryside provide the lifestyle including schools, connectivity, leisure, cultural and recreational opportunities to attract young people and the ‘wealth creators’ that will provide employment.

Our older residents are the backbone of many of our communities and voluntary organisations. Many stay economically active well beyond retirement age. To ensure that they remain active, independent and healthy, we need to ensure that appropriate housing and support is provided, that community support networks grow and that our towns and villages enable independent living and interaction between the generations and encourage continued active lifestyles.

This issue is not confined to South Lakeland. Economic and housing growth across Morecambe Bay, better quality of life in towns and villages across the sub-region and better connectivity between them will ensure that the benefits of sub-regional growth will be felt across all three districts. This is why South Lakeland is adopting a collaborative approach and aligning its strategic thinking with those of its neighbours.

What we are doing

Housing and communities:

  • new affordable homes to rent
  • new extra care and specialised housing for the elderly
  • a range of housing to attract and retain young people
  • new models of housing delivery
  • working to reduce the number of second homes

Housing and communities targets:

  • deliver 477 affordable homes for rent between 2020 and 2025
  • deliver 588 affordable homes to buy between 2020 and 2025
  • deliver 300 extra care units between 2020 and 2025
  • deliver 337 self and custom build dwellings between 2020 and 2025

Economic development and culture:

  • unlocking development sites and enabling local businesses to grow
  • understanding the needs of local businesses
  • encouraging graduate retention and the creation of high value jobs
  • using culture and the arts to support the unique offer of our towns and countryside

Economic development and culture targets:

  • economic Development strategy setting out delivery framework and targets to be completed by December 2021
  • implementation of Kendal Town Centre Strategy including provision of new employment floorspace
  • commencement of development on 5 allocated employment sites by 2025
  • delivery of Great Places programme

Health and environment:

  • using our distinct environment to create opportunities for all
  • working with communities to reduce isolation and loneliness
  • improving access to citizen driven technology
  • helping people to be independent

Health and environment targets:

  • completion of Customer Connect Transition programme
  • ensure that community interests championed in National Park plans and strategies
  • ensure that population health strategies make relevant provision for the elderly
  • ensure that social programmes address loneliness

Our ambition

A more balanced South Lakeland which houses a growing working age population and provides the best possible quality of life for all age groups.

Delivering a fairer South Lakeland

A South Lakeland for everyone.

Why this is a priority

Compared to many parts of Cumbria and Lancashire, South Lakeland is prosperous with relatively low levels of most types of deprivation.

This, however, masks some significant inequalities. Some of the key facts that illustrate this include:

  • median house prices across South Lakeland are almost seven times the average annual household income and up to 12 times income in some parts of the district and there are around 4,000 households on the Social Housing Register
  • 7.2% of households in South Lakeland have an annual household income of under £10,000 and 7% of children live in low-income households
  • 13% of households are in fuel poverty – driven both by low incomes and high heating costs in older, less well insulated homes
  • there is major variation in life expectancy across the district, with men living 3.4 years longer and women living 4 years longer in the least deprived areas than the most deprived areas.

The Covid crisis has exposed vulnerabilities in South Lakeland’s local economy. The visitor economy including accommodation, retail, food and drink, transport and visitor attractions has been badly hit.

This in turn has had an impact on the network of services; professional services, catering, building maintenance etc, which supports the visitor economy.

The longer term prognosis is unclear and a lot depends on changing holidaying habits and the balance between increased domestic tourism and reduced international tourism.

The full impact has yet to be felt as a lot of businesses have been in receipt of assistance through various grant regimes and the furlough scheme.

Although still the lowest in Cumbria and well below national and county averages, since the beginning of the pandemic, unemployment in South Lakeland has nearly trebled from 1.1% to 3.1% (November 2020) and the proportion of the working age population has risen from 6.8% to 9.2%.

There is a particular concern that as a result of the pandemic, many people are finding themselves at financial risk, often unexpectedly and suddenly. Many people are encountering the benefits system for the first time and having to budget and manage money carefully. They are having to do this in the context of the physical and mental health impacts of the Covid crisis. There is a need for support.

For all of the above reasons South Lakeland has declared a poverty emergency and is implementing a strategy and action plan to tackle poverty and inequality.

What we are we doing

Housing and communities:

  • preventing homelessness supporting and ensuring the safety of vulnerable people
  • working with landlords to improve standards
  • bringing empty homes back into use
  • maximising access to Disabled Facilities Grants
  • providing energy advice and additional support to households in fuel poverty
  • maintaining our Council Tax reduction scheme

Housing and communities targets:

  • halve the proportion of households in poverty and eliminate child poverty
  • implement Homelessness & Rough Sleeping Strategies
  • reduce the percentage of private sector homes with category 1 hazards to less than 15% by 2025

Economic development and culture:

  • Supporting people to adapt to changes in technology
  • Encouraging links between further and higher education, apprentices and businesses
  • Providing support, advice and affordable premises for new business start-ups
  • Protecting the vulnerable and helping people out of poverty

Economic development and culture targets:

  • distribute grants to aid businesses through the Covid crisis
  • widen and improve the quality of broadband coverage
  • advise businesses
  • deliver new business space in Kendal Town Hall

Health and environment

  • working with partners to reduce domestic violence, alcohol related crime, substance misuse, child sexual exploitation and antisocial behaviour
  • commissioning services through the third sector
  • improving air quality and reducing pollution
  • working with partners to widen access to low cost energy

Health and environment targets:

  • complete Kendal Air Quality Management Plan implementation
  • review the third sector commissioning and the delivery of financial advice and support to vulnerable people
  • work with partners to safeguard people against exploitation
  • work with partners to protect people against domestic abuse

Our ambition

A District where everyone has access to the same opportunities, life chances and potential to lead safe, healthy, happy and fulfilled lives.

Addressing the climate emergency

A carbon neutral South Lakeland

Why this is this a priority

Climate change is a major international threat to our future.

South Lakeland is already dealing with the impacts of a changing climate with more frequent and more severe flooding events. As well as these, we can expect hotter, drier summers, rising sea levels and more frequent extreme weather events.

These weather events threaten people’s lives, properties and health but also have a longer-term impact on people’s physical, emotional and financial livelihoods.

South Lakeland must work with the rest of the world to address our emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change. The International Panel on Climate Change (2018 report) recommends reducing global carbon emissions by 45% by 2030, and becoming carbon-neutral by 2050.

South Lakeland will provide the civic leadership to go further and faster. South Lakeland has an opportunity to lead a new low carbon future, which is beneficial to all giving us a more beautiful, cleaner district, with the growth of green industries, sustainable tourism and residents taking pride in their local area and sustaining the local economy.

In February 2019 SLDC declared a climate emergency, its Council Plan committing the council to “working to achieve a carbon-neutral South Lakeland”.

The council’s 2019 climate change policy acknowledges that climate change is occurring, that manmade greenhouse gas emissions are a primary cause and that climate change will continue to have far-reaching effects on people and places, the economy, society and environment in the district, across the UK and the world.

The council seeks to maximise the social, economic and environmental benefits which come from combating, and developing resilience to climate change and developing a sustainable economy.

The council’s carbon footprint has reduced by 50% since 2010 but the council still emits more than 2,600 tonnes of CO2 per annum. The council has committed to being carbon neutral in its own operations by 2030 and working to achieve a carbon neutral district by 2037.

It has prepared a wide ranging action plan to deliver on these targets and is progressively implementing it.

What we are doing

Housing and Communities:

  • ensuring that new development is sustainable, energy efficient, flood resilient and enhances biodiversity
  • working with partners to mitigate risk of major flood incidents
  • working with partners to deliver energy saving and energy efficiency initiatives
  • pursuing opportunities to develop renewable energy
  • enhancing the district’s green infrastructure

Housing and Communities targets:

  • reduce the percentage of homes in the lowest energy performance certificate (EPC) bands (F and G) from 16.4% to less than 10% by 2025
  • updated environmental standards for new development to be included in Local Plan

Economic development and culture:

  • promoting environmental technologies and the green economy
  • developing town centres which are attractive and accessible for living, working and leisure
  • reducing the council’s own carbon footprint
  • promoting local businesses and the circular economy
  • ensuring that business areas are protected from flooding

Economic development and culture targets:

  • enabling agile and home working
  • implementation of Town Centre Strategy
  • completion of Kendal Flood defences

Health and environment

  • achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2037
  • working with Westmorland and Furness highways and other partners to promote and encourage the provision of and access to sustainable public transport across the district
  • promoting active transport including cycling and walking
  • enhancing the biodiversity of the district
  • promoting the waste reduction hierarchy

Health and environment targets:

  • SLDC to be carbon neutral in its own operations by 2030
  • South Lakeland to be carbon neutral by 2037
  • supporting preparation and implementation of Kendal cycling and walking strategy

Our Ambition

A more beautiful, quieter and cleaner district leading the way to net zero with more comfortable, warmer and safer homes, cleaner air and water, more wildlife, more trees and more jobs in a thriving sustainable economy and an environmental quality and quality of life that is recognised as the best in England.

Performance in achieving our four key priorities

We use our performance management framework and risk management process to help make sure that we work towards the objectives set out in our Council Plan. 

Performance Management Framework

The Performance Management Framework is about the delivery of our goals. Performance means more than just back office systems, processes, plans and indicators.

Effective performance management is being clear about our purpose. It has a strong emphasis on achieving outcomes. It has robust and effective planning systems, which ensure the allocation of resources follow service demands. Our work is monitored against clear targets and acted upon.

Performance Management Framework 2022 (PDF 481KB / 12 pages)

Risk Management Process

The Risk Management Process outlines how we are managing risks and opportunities.

This process will enable us to identify risks, assess them, identify how we can control them and allocate responsibility to officers.

Risk Management Process 2022 (PDF 341KB / 10 pages)