A Month of Firsts: First Ever Neighbourhood Plan Referendum / First Council Promoted Planning Act 2008 Scheme

Neighbourhood Plan Referendum

The country’s first ever referendum on a Neighbourhood Plan was held in Upper Eden, Cumbria, and was carried by a landslide of 1,310 in favour and just 138 against.

The Plan consists of a document that aims to protect and enhance the character and historic features that define the neighbourhood’s sense of place by laying out guidelines on issues like:

  • Protecting architectural features (such as windows, doors, cornices, and front garden enclosures).
  • Rear extensions, garden buildings (including sheds) and conservatories – protecting gardens and the backs of houses
  • Exterior painting – enhancing the Conservation Area.
  • Protecting and enhancing our open spaces, gardens and trees.
  • Action to mitigate traffic problems.

Upper Eden is making the most of new powers granted to it as a defined ‘Neighbourhood’ under the Localism Act 2011. Through these powers, local communities are able to influence the local development priorities of their council by playing a large part in the drafting of the ‘Local Plan’ – which must now conform both with the National Planning Policy Framework and the local consensus.

The referendum in a small rural corner of England is just the first, and many more are planned across the country as communities put the finishing touches to their Neighbourhood Plans.

More information on the subject and how you can get involved is available from the Government here.

First Planning Act 2008 scheme promoted by Local Authority gets Green Light

Mid-March saw the first scheme promoted by a Local Government under the infrastructure planning and consenting regime contained in the Planning Act 2008 to receive a Green Light from the Government.

The scheme was promoted by Lancashire County Council and concerns a 4.6km dual carriageway between Heysham, on the west coast near Morecambe, and the central running M6 that connects Manchester with Cumbria. Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin granted consent on the same day that approval was given by Energy Secretary Ed Davey for the building of Hinkley Point C power station, which is the largest project under the 2008 Act to date.

The £123m road scheme includes compulsory purchase powers and planning permission. The council said it would be writing to landowners affected and beginning the formal process of acquiring the remaining land needed for the road.

Cllr Tim Ashton, Cabinet member for highways and transport, is reported as saying:

“Lancashire has been anticipating today’s news for decades and I could not be happier that the Heysham to M6 link road is going to become a reality.

“The M6 link is more than just a road-building scheme – it will be an engine for economic growth for the whole region. The new road will reduce congestion and greatly increase the potential for investment in the surrounding area.”

The approval follows changes brought about by the Planning Act 2008, as amended by the Localism Act 2011, which give the newly formed Planning Inspectorate powers to examine national infrastructure plans before they are submitted to the relevant Secretary of State.

The Acts also constrict the planning process to substantially tighter deadlines, speeding what was a laborious planning process for nationally significant projects. By way of example, the last nuclear power station to be approved, Sizewell B back in 1987, took 2232 days to reach a decision. Hinkley Point C took just 505 days.

With many more infrastructure projects planned to boost growth, the Government will herald these two approvals as the start of significant progress in the construction industry.

You can see what the Government has planned for your area by clicking this link.

27/03/2013                                                                                                         SRJ/LCB

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