Councils across Central Lancashire are to launch a third bid to find land suitable for future development in the region.
Preston, Chorley and South Ribble councils have made two previous “calls for sites” over the last twelve months.
The general public, landowners and developers will once again be asked for their suggestions about plots which could accommodate housing and employment developments between now and the mid-2030s. It is part of the process of drawing up a joint “local plan” for the three neighbouring authorities.
The dates for the latest call have not yet been announced, but deputy leader of Preston City Council, Peter Moss, told a meeting of the Central Lancashire joint advisory committee (JAC) that it was not a case of just “having another go…because we didn’t like what we found [previously]”.
“I’ve already heard comments [to that effect], so we need to explain the situation clearly to the public,” Cllr Moss said.
Local plan co-ordinator Carolyn Williams said that the aim of seeking a fresh round of proposals was simply to ensure that everybody had a chance to have their say.
“Some people may not have been aware that we have made a previous call. This phase of the local plan is generally an open period for people to submit sites, but we’re trying to do it through specific time slots so that we can concentrate our efforts and so that people can respond well,” Ms. Williams send.
The volume of suggestions from the previous calls has caused the timetable for forming the local plan to slip – it is now unlikely to be adopted by the three local authorities by the target date of summer 2022.
Almost 500 proposals have been put forward so far and, while some may be duplicate suggestions from different respondents, each will need to be assessed. Public consultation will take place on the final plans.
Papers presented to the JAC reveal that an assessment of the region’s greenbelt for potential development is not currently deemed necessary – and could only be justified in future if “it becomes apparent there is an inadequate supply of land to meet identified need”.
Consultants have been brought in to carry out a study to determine housing need in the area – and how future housebuilding targets should be distributed between Preston, Chorley and South Ribble.
Local plans have traditionally been drawn up by individual councils as a way of meeting of government-imposed targets stipulating how many homes need to be built in a city or district. However, Central Lancashire authorities have been cooperating on the issue since 2012.
The meeting also heard that work is continuing to gather evidence of flood risk in the region which will form a “crucial” part of the local plan process.