We love Central Lancashire’s countryside and greenspace, as we know you do!

25th November 2019

CPRE Lancashire is preparing a response to the Central Lancashire: Issues and Options consultation, for the Valentine’s deadline and we would like to hear your views.

Our response will urge planners to love and cherish our countryside and greenspace. We will encourage them to aspire to beautiful, thriving rural places that enrich all of our lives, wherever we live. If you have any concerns about the local plan document (which can be downloaded via the link directly below) please contact us. We will consider your comments and we will prepare our response accordingly.

Central Lancashire Local Plan Issues and Options paper

Background

The Central Lancashire Authorities of Preston City, South Ribble and Chorley are undertaking a review of the development plan(s) for the area and are working towards the preparation of a Joint Local Plan for Central Lancashire. This will be a single Planning document containing the Council’s vision and objectives. It will set strategic and local development management policies and site allocations for future development across the three authorities. Once adopted, the Local Plan will guide the future growth and development in the Central Lancashire area and replace the Central Lancashire Core Strategy (adopted in 2012) and the Local Plans/Site Allocations and Development Management Policies of the 3 Central Lancashire Authorities (all adopted 2015).

The ‘Central Lancashire Local Plan Issues and Options Consultation’ is the first stage of the Local Plan. The consultation is in the form of an online survey, which matches the questions set out in the main consultation paper. https://centrallocalplan.lancashire.gov.uk/consultations/issues-and-options/

CPRE Lancashire believes that our countryside sustains us in every way. Its beautiful landscapes provide the food we eat and a haven for the nature and wildlife we love. It’s where many of us feel most alive. But it’s under threat – from pollution, litter, irresponsible development and a host of other pressures. The countryside doesn’t stand still. It’s always adapting and evolving. If it’s going to thrive, it needs our help now. Change in our countryside is necessary, but for it to be positive it must meet the needs of both rural and urban communities. We want a thriving countryside for everyone to enjoy – today and for generations to come.

Earlier in November, CPRE Lancashire responded to the proposals regarding the provision and distribution of housing land.

Flawed Standard Method

The Government’s standard method is deeply flawed. It pushes housing growth into the countryside. It is based on an overly simplistic ‘supply and demand’ economic theory, ignoring the fact that houses are not used just as homes, but capital investments. The affordability ratio simply pushes houses to areas of high demand, irrespective of environmental capacity, high grade of farmland and threatens unnecessarily our rural areas. It is wrong to focus on the profit margin of developers, rather than building needed homes in the right places, where employment and other facilities are located. The local authorities must plan for the people in the most sustainable way regarding the environmental limits of the area.

Reliance of out of date data

What is more, it is bad practice to use out of date data, so it is illogical that the Government promotes it. ONS 2016 data is the best data set to utilise. ONS 2016 shows a Total of 705 dwelling per annum (DPA), (with Preston 19, South Ribble 161 and Chorley 525), whereas 2014 shows a Total of 954 DPA.

In fact, soon Central Lancashire might be able to rely on the ONS 2018 data, to inform the planning of housing for Central Lancashire. Councils should resist having housing requirements that are too high, otherwise they cannot be able to achieve in terms of stringent Housing Delivery Tests, which leads to plans becoming out of date, and as a result more of our productive greenfields have to be released for development, with associated costs in terms of food and job security.

A reality check in future planning is necessary. CPRE supports adequate housing for the people who need a home, particularly lower cost affordable housing options, including houses for rent. There is no evidence to show that the release of Green Belt land provides the right type of housing, nor does it accelerate housing delivery, as often the land is often sold on with the planning permission and the uplift value extracted. The demands of developers should not be the only concern, but instead local economic, social and environmental good.

Brownfield

CPRE campaigns for urban concentration to better utilise previously developed, or brownfield, land in our existing settlements. We advocate sustainable development, harnessing technology for cleaner energy, and reducing our demands to be compatible with climate change carbon budgets. We should reuse brownfield land to make the most of sites in central and accessible places, and not build out in rural places, which places an added burden of car dependency. Consequently, the existing built area of Preston which is the most urban should have the most development, and require higher density with adequate green space and community facilities near to jobs. We therefore think a lower number of housing per annum, split Preston 60%, South Ribble 22.5% and Chorley 17.5% is more appropriate.

The NPPF Section 11 does seek to encourage more Brownfield reuse, and the identification of all brownfield land in the brownfield registers is important. CPRE is urging Government to invest more in our wasted Brownfield land. Preston needs much needed investments as do the existing towns of South Ribble and Chorley. It is possible that a more comprehensive search for previously used sites is necessary as regeneration should be at the heart of the Local Plan for Central Lancashire. Having looked at the Brownfield Registers it appear some sites have been overlooked, or classed as ‘unsuitable’, when in reality they have potential that should be unlocked by relevant stakeholders. We would be interested in speaking to the relevant officers about this. We can mobilise our team of volunteers to help identify suitable housing sites. We have done this in Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Regions to good effect already finding some 100 hectares of additional brownfield land, not included in the Brownfield Registers.

In our view if more brownfield land was recorded and higher density development provides more housing, the need to build on countryside, particularly that afforded Green Belt protection would be avoided.

Green Belt Creation

We think there is scope to create new Green Belt to the north of Preston area to limit urban sprawl and protect rural places that can be enjoyed by the people of Preston and beyond.

Summary

We wish the team well with the production of Local Plan and identification of an adequate supply of housing sites. We hope the policies and allocations will best steer future sustainable development, and so the countryside of Central Lancashire is best protected and enhanced for the benefit of future generations.

We will continue to seek local plan policies and site allocations that will best look after our natural spaces for all, as the Joint Local Plan is progressed.

If you would like to become a planning volunteer for the areas of Preston, South Ribble or Chorley please do be in contact with Jackie Copley, Planning Manager at jackie.copley@cprelancashire.org.uk