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Article date - 30 October 2020
Setting out the borough’s existing needs for housing, employment, infrastructure and services, together with its future development plans, the Local Plan strikes a balance between growth, prosperity and quality of life for residents over the next 15 years.
Next, the Secretary of State will appoint an independent planning inspector to examine the plan and representations, assessing the legal compliance of the plan and whether it meets the ‘tests of soundness’ set down in national policy.
They will then decide when the public examination will be conducted. Once known, details of the timescales will be shared online at www.sthelens.gov.uk/localplanexamination, where residents can view the easy to read, full colour executive summary of the plan, setting out its scope and vision.
Publication of the inspector’s report on the Local Plan will formally close the examination stage of the process.
The council will only be able to adopt the plan if it is found to be legally compliant and sound by the planning inspector as set out in their final report.
Government requires that every local authority area adopts a plan. St Helens Borough’s has been developed around five key priorities: supporting a growing population and strong economy; a continuing commitment to brownfield first development; regenerating town and district centres; protecting and enhancing open green spaces; and investing in infrastructure.
In reaching this stage, the plan has undergone three public consultations with residents, local communities, businesses and other stakeholders, beginning with an initial invitation for feedback on the scope of the plan in 2016.
The council received nearly 6,000 consultation responses – called representations – on the Preferred Options version in 2016/17, which were all considered in the latest version of the plan, called the Submission Draft.
Approximately 2,000 comments on the Submission Draft have been collated and now submitted with the plan to the Secretary of State. Residents who made a representation in this consultation will also receive a letter or email informing them of submission of the plan and the next steps.
Councillor Richard McCauley, St Helens Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Planning, said:
“In submitting the Local Plan to the Secretary of State we are taking a big step towards its adoption. The Government-appointed, independent planning inspector will now take full account of our plan, assessing its viability and soundness, along with the feedback from our residents.
“Created with and for our borough to meet our future employment and Government-required housing needs, this plan sets out our ambitions to create jobs, build a mix of high quality, affordable homes and shape infrastructure investments utilising brownfield first and foremost.
“It gives residents some certainty about our development plans and future use of land in the borough. It shows where development is planned, and therefore where resources and possible additional infrastructure, such as roads or new schools, are needed to support it.
“It will protect the vast majority of our open green spaces, develop our town and district centres, and help to prevent decisions being made on developments that may not be in the best interests of our local community, as without it we are at the mercy of developers who would be able to cherry-pick development sites without our input.
“And as we look ahead towards our post-Covid-19 economic recovery, a sound and aspirational plan for job creation and growth will be indispensable.”
Paper copies of the Local Plan and supporting documentation are available to view online at www.sthelens.gov.uk/localplanexamination and at all St Helens Borough Council Libraries that are currently open, including Chester Lane Library, Eccleston Library, Newton-le-Willows Library, Parr Library and St Helens Library at The World of Glass. Please check www.sthelens.gov.uk/libraries for the latest library opening times.