Two new planning blueprints which will shape the future of the Lancaster district have been officially adopted.
On Wednesday December 17 Lancaster City Council formally adopted the Development Management Development Plan Document (DPD) and Morecambe Area Action Plan DPD.
These documents have been developed over the past four years and will now form key parts of the Local Plan for the Lancaster District 2011-2031.
The Development Management DPD will be used to assess future planning applications across the Lancaster district, and the Morecambe Area Action Plan DPD focuses on regeneration initiatives for the Central Morecambe area.
The documents are available online at www.lancaster.gov.uk/planningpolicy, in local libraries and Morecambe and Lancaster Town Hall during normal opening hours.
Coun Janice Hanson said: “The adoption of these two documents marks an important milestone.
“The council’s planning committee can now make decisions on planning applications using up-to-date planning policies for matters such as building design, flood risk, open spaces and affordable housing.
“The use of these up-to-date policies will help to deliver sustainable development in the district. The Area Action Plan will also direct and support regeneration proposals and investment in Morecambe.”
The documents can still be challenged via an application to the High Court, however, this is only in relation to the way that the documents have been prepared and not the content of the documents. Any challenge would need to be made by January 28 2015.
A motion questioning the way crucial housing figures are calculated when planning new housing developments in the district has also been unanimously passed by councillors.
The motion, proposed by Green Party Coun Tim Hamilton-Cox called on council officers to instruct councillors how they could challenge the current way of working out the figures.
The motion also instructed the chief executive to write to the two local MPs - Eric Ollerenshaw and David Morris - and the government’s planning minister, to try to get a shift in government policy.
Coun Hamilton-Cox said that the motion was put forward because it is currently much harder for the city council to control where developers build houses – and is “leading to planning applications in inappropriate and damaging locations”.
He said: “Our argument has been; let’s step back and see if the 400 homes per year target, set many years ago, fits with the data we now have on things like population and jobs growth. If the 400 target is not fit for purpose, all the calculations should be redone. This could see the 4,095 figure (for new homes) reduce considerably. Many other bodies have been questioning these figures. For example, a recent report for the National Trust has said that the calculations of a five year housing land supply have become more important than common sense in the real world in deciding whether an authority’s land supply is satisfactory.”